Sean Shibe



PREVIEWED at the East Neuk Festival before an Edinburgh Festival Fringe run in 2017, the second Delphian album by 26-year-old Sean Shibe, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduate and trailblazer for guitarists on the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist scheme, is the sort of release for which the potential audience is vast. Guitar aficionados will of course love it, while marvelling at repertoire that stars with lute tunes from the 17th century collection of Wemyss Castle in Fife, and embraces contemporary composition by James MacMillan, Steve Reich and David Lang and Julia Wolfe of New York’s Bang on a Can, the latter’s LAD originally scored for nine bagpipers.

Then there are those whose taste may be distant from ancient and contemporary classical music but for whom the album title suggests The Pixies from Boston or Glasgow’s Mogwai. The dynamic contrasts that characterises the best work of both those bands is exactly what Shibe is playing with here. While that perhaps has to be experienced live for fullest appreciation (as is true of the rock bands), the recordings, both in the studio and in a Midlothian church, perfectly serve the acoustic and electric instruments, so that there is a seamless transition from the arrangement of a motet from MacMillan’s Since it was the day of preparation . . . to a performance of Reich’s Electric Counterpoint which the composer has already enthusiastically endorsed.

The first hard-to-ignore contender for the Scottish Album of the Year award from a classical label? I very much think so.

Keith Bruce