The solitarily titled ‘I’ is the full-length debut album by Maxwell August Croy and Sean McCann, released on the bold San Diego vinyl label Students Of Decay. Croy is best known for his work in West Coast drone unit En and McCann is a prolific Los Angeles solo artist who has released on Root Strata, Aguirre and Recital.
The duo “synthesize compositional and aesthetic tropes”, which results in sounds as distinctive and unique as the description suggests. The music itself is hard to categorize; there are tinges of blues, along with drone, but the lilting instrumentation places it outside easily defined boundaries.
The record starts with the scraping shuffle of the two players pulling up chairs to play before “Parting Light (Suite)”; an inspired conceit that hints to the listener that everything follows from the same space, despite processing surely occurring in later tracks – track four “The Inlet Arc” develops into a celestial dirge that cannot be the work of two players in a room; surely?
Students Of Decay have justifiably equated the sound of the album to Gavin Bryars, Taj Mahal Travellers and Richard Skelton, but the sound of the two players working in tandem is considerably more idiosyncratic and ethereal than this comparison would suggest; the koto in particular sends the listener into long tracked Kurosawa scenes, and the harmonic drone of “Alexandria” is not too dissimilar to the more subdued works of Greg Haines, albeit more rustic.
The LP was mastered in bright colours by Rashad Becker and the cover jacket features exclusive monotypes by Andrew Chalk. The wide spaces and long arcs are well worth exploration.