‘Saccharine Scores’ is an absorbing album/book documenting recent chamber works by pivotal contemporary composer Sean McCann, who also runs the excellent Recital label.
As founder of Recital Program and a prolific collaborator and artist, McCann’s work over the past 10 years has placed him at the centre of myriad experimental music scenes, acting as the connective node between everyone from Loren Connors to Sarah Davachi and Ian William Craig, while continuing to pursue his own, dreamy, avant-classical muse, both solo and in collaboration, on dozens of tapes and LPs, and a DVD. He is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in experimental avant-classical music right now.
Marking ten years since McCann’s first release, ‘Saccharine Scores’ offers a captivating window onto his work. Rendered through in-depth scores, poems, photos, and a 4-track CD album recorded in London during a business trip in late 2017, the album and book portray an artist modestly assured of his gift for transmuting the prosaic into the otherworldly, paying testament to his poetic knack for evoking waking dream states.
The CD album ranges from the 10-person ensemble performance of ‘Portraits of Friars’, unfurling 26 minutes of glossolalic chatter and beautifully illusive strings recorded at Fylkingen, Stockholm in February 2018, to his quietly optimistic first quartet piece, ‘Victorian Wood’, performed in Toronto in 2014, along with the haunting blend of text-to-speech vox with solo keys and electronic drones in ‘Passing-Ship’. All tracks feature an assortment of noted guests including Sarah Davachi, Zachary Paul, Geneva Skeen, Celia Eydeland, and Maxwell August Croy.
Ultimately there’s something unquantifiable, and perhaps even slightly unfinished, about McCann’s work and his flaneur-like navigation of timbres, spaces, and textures that distinguishes its charms and deeply endears it to us. And quite possibly you, too.