There is a small set of musicians that I would consider to be more than just your average artist. When it comes to composing music, the arrangement and execution of these pieces, as one is a feat that only the most talented of individuals can excel at. The most obvious choice to me is Mike Patton. Anyone that has witnessed a Fantômas concert knows what I am speaking of. It is sheer brilliance and unparalleled to watch Patton conduct the trio through their set. Though I have not taken in a Capillary Action show, I have a sneaking suspicion that mastermind Jonathan Pfeffer is equally as mesmerizing to watch conduct.
Capillary Action is the project of composer Pfeffer, who gains assistance from a revolving cast of multi-talented musicians. So Embarrassing is the bands second full-length recording and follow-up to 2004s Fragments. Like its predecessor, this recording is a mish-mash of genres. However, unlike Fragments, the overall composition of So Embarrassing is a lot tighter; the songwriting is stronger, and, in spite of the even wider spectrum of musical influences that are touched upon, the recording is more cohesive.
Eleven songs comprise So Embarrassing, which clocks in at just over thirty minutes. However, by breaking down the album into tracks, its almost doing the recording a disservice. Perhaps the reason I feel this way is because the arrangement of the recording is that stronger than that of the previous full-length. Yes, Pfeffer and company still draws from everything from jazz and prog to metal and post-punk, and even classic music arrangements. However, rather than the disjointedness of Fragments we get music that blends together the free-form world of Coltrane and Davis with the intricacies of Fugazi. The members of Capillary Action infuse the song with interesting transitions; one moment the music is delicate indie rock centered around placid drumming and lush guitar melodies and soft vocal harmonies, the next its chaotic riffings and dancing keys. One aspect of Capillary Action that further advances their uniqueness is the keys of Kevin McHugh. His quirky additions plus the inclusion of various horns and stringed instruments to the music cause me to reference Mr. Bungle. When you take it in as a whole, So Embarrassing is quite a fascinating piece of music, one that takes time to absorb and fully appreciated. But then again, Rome wasnt built in a day either
So Embarrassing is a multi-faceted recording, that, despite its many parts, still maintains a sense of cohesiveness. Pfeffer has surrounded himself with enough competent musicians to ultimately unveil the orchestra of sounds that must be swirling in his mind endlessly. If youre fascinated by original music with intellect behind it, then Capillary Action is perfect for you.
7.5 / 10
Posted April 21, 2004, 11:08 a.m.
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