Vanity Fair by Sean McCann & Matthew Sullivan

Vanity Fair by Sean McCann & Matthew Sullivan was available on Vinyl LP but is now sold out on all formats, sorry.

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Vinyl LP £15.99 Recital One

LP on Recital Recordings.

Sold out.



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Vanity Fair by Sean McCann & Matthew Sullivan
1 review. Write a review for us »
8/10 Mike 06 March 2012

It seems like just a couple of weeks ago (because it was) that I was reviewing Sean McCann's last solo offering, and now I'm lucky enough to get this collaborative effort between him and Matthew Sullivan. As with that solo album, this one has a really fantastic photograph on the front cover. The musics contained on the plastic within are sixfold, with the opener 'Cabrini Green' pairing up quite physical-sounding string drones and what I assume are manipulated field recordings clattering away in the background. It's an awkward passage, but the mixture of earthy bumps and celestial drones is thoroughly absorbing and doesn't outstay its welcome. The rest of the first side is taken up by the epic title piece of awkward musique concrete. There's moments of the kind of therapeutic synth tone/drone business that made McCann's recent solo outing so rewarding, but there's a soup of weird noises over the top. At one point it sounds almost exactly as if somebody is rubbing their wet fingers against a ceramic bath. A curious and lengthy bit of sound art that's not the easiest of listens and eventually transports you to a bizarre bird sanctuary in outer space. Flip it and there's four shorter songs. 'Central Casting' has waves of babbling, indecipherably processed speech accompanied by swells of pure treble tones, and then 'An Unknown Gentleman' surprises with its sudden bursts of reverbed brass and woodwind and strings. This one's almost giving me a Johann Johannsson kinda vibe which is both unexpected and welcome, as the staccato orchestral tones crumble and delay. There's more of the crunchy background noises here too, almost like horror movie sound effects transplanted into the wrong film. The lengthy 'Had It All' then continues this pseudo-classical theme with tinkling piano and chimes over yet more creaking and bumping. Challenging. Closer 'Fan Mail' is all ethereal washes of unidentifiable noise, easing us back into the comfort and predictability of our mundane reality once again. It sounds like it's at least partly derived from vocals but it's hard to tell. All in all this is an awkward meeting of a variety of soothing pleasantnesses and a certain kind of discomfiting clankiness that won't be for everyone, but if you're a fan of cerebral dark ambience it's a delicious treat I'm sure.


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