Agitated Atmosphere: Sean McCann – The Capital

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Sean McCann.

A year can’t pass without Agitated Atmosphere covering Sean McCann.

It’s getting impossible to ignore McCann’s contributions of musical history; and if you are in spite of surmounting evidence to his unending creativity, count yourself unlucky. As cherished as consistency is within musical output, McCann is able to bend those expectations and will them to a higher plane with each progressive release. As beloved as experimentation is no matter the genre, McCann blends all genres together and from this strange vat of building block material constructs a whole new DNA.

Such is the case with The Capital, McCann’s latest vinyl release via Belgian label Aguirre. His output up to this point has been disconnected, not only from widely spread musical forms but from the mechanisms in which those forms are distributed. McCann counts nearly 20 labels as home to his music (including his own, Roll Over Rover. His 46 releases (and growing) over vinyl, cassette, CD, DVD, and VHS have dissected and deconstructed folk, drone, ambient, and Appalachia among the many touchstones McCann counts as influential.

Listen to “Aerial Sapphire Show”:

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The Capital, in its dark morass, condenses each of those opposing forces into one album. Like a car meeting its junkyard fate, The Capital puts immeasurable pressure on the entirety of McCann’s canon until all that’s left is a compact cube of metal, plastic, and fiber. It spans geological ages and eons of changing topography until its lump of carbon is dug out a diamond. The Capital is not shy to immediately demonstrate its flawless beauty — album opener “Aerial Sapphire Show” is a spectacle onto itself; shimmering guitar and bowed strings bounce off McCann’s rubbery melody. The track, much like taffy, crumbles from the kneading and pulling into a pile of electronic chaos just as beautiful in its awkwardness as a jewel is in its symmetry. It’s a practice found often through The Capital as McCann stretches himself further than ever before and just as it all seems to be falling apart, he is able to build mold something entirely unique.

Above all else, McCann shows fearlessness. He is not afraid of failure and that confidence is echoed in much of his output, especially The Capital as more ears are directed toward his work. In his willingness to do what has yet to be done, he has crafted the perfect artifact of the new world without abandoning the relics of the past. This is a different type of catchy; this is a different form of avant-garde. No need for a uniform or a namedrop to gain acceptance, just the discovery of something new.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. He also pens Deserted for the KEXP Blog. You may follow him on Twitter.

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