Maxwell August Croy & Sean McCann - “I” (2014)
Composed and recorded in Los Angeles and San Francisco, “I” is the debut full-length album by Maxwell August Croy and Sean McCann. Croy is best known for his work in Bay Area duo EN, wherein he processes koto, voice, and other instrumentation into ecstatic and nuanced drone-based recordings. McCann is a solo artist whose work continues to undergo seismic evolutions, manifested most recently on the justly lauded “Music for Private Ensemble,” an album of autodidactic modern composition that defies easy categorization. Working as a duo, Croy and McCann have successfully synthesized compositional and aesthetic tropes from their respective discographies in order to produce something extraordinary. “Parting Light (Suite)” opens the album with a flurry of koto, cello, and violin lines masterfully woven together; a complex movement that dissembles to reveal a more spacious environment in which each gesture takes on a heightened significance. Croy’s koto lends the piece an Eastern aura that is complicated by McCann’s playing which is equal parts idiosyncratic and grandiose. Elsewhere, “Alexandria” finds the duo operating at their most celestial, working their instruments into a harrowing, beautiful dirge comprised of clarion tones and wide-eyed string arrangements. Ultimately, the sensibility cultivated by Croy and McCann on “I” proves to be utterly unique, perhaps situated best somewhere among the soundworlds of Gavin Bryars, Taj Mahal Travellers and Richard Skelton. The LP was mastered by Rashad Becker and the jacket features exclusive monotypes by Andrew Chalk.