“Music For Private Ensemble” is Sean McCann’s first new solo album since 2011′s “The Capital”. Demonstrating a more serious study of orchestration and timbre than his previous work; it is a big step forward. The four arrangements presented here shy away from the use of synthesizers and effects processing – instead relying on voicing and movement to actuate the album’s sentiments. Inspired by the grandiosity of John Adams, the concerned somberness of Gavin Bryars, and the guttural tape work of Fluxus artists.
“Private Ensemble” was written, recorded, and laboriously edited over the course of 17 months, composed both traditionally as well as through the clustering and organization of improvisations. McCann played violin, viola, cello, flute, piano, glockenspiel, and percussion. He was forced to notate samples of bassoon, french horn, and timpani, as those were not available resources at the time.
Taking multi-tracking to extremes, many of the pieces surpass 100 layers of instruments. However this structural depth does not lead to chaos; no sound on Private Ensemble is unintentional. The objective with the ambitious multi-tracking and precision editing was to achieve the sound of a full orchestra. The only other person appearing on the album is vocalist Kayla Cohen (Itasca), her layered singing is formed into a small choir to help conclude the record.
This album reveals McCann’s most refined work to date, indicating the beginning of his transformation into a modern composer.