Thing of the Day
Exotic maximalists Capillary Action have a new album
June 6th 2011
CAPILLARY ACTION Capsized (Natural Selection)
They describe themselves as being from 'everywhere' and sounding like 'everything' - and its pretty accurate. Main man Jonathan Pfeffer lives in Philadelphia, and the rest of the current core line-up is scattered across Chicago, Boston, Madison and New York. This seems to be a minor hurdle in Jonathan's great plan and vision, for this new album from Capillary Action is ferociously, hallucinatorily detailed, truly avant pop.
There's nobody quite like them. Their luscious, sleek sound, part close harmony barber shop, part samba band, with a line-up including trumpet and accordian, double bass and acoustic guitar, is structured around difficult, discombobulating melodies that constantly derail your train of thought and twist your ears. As much walking the world of contemporary composition as rock, they are often way harder to listen to than any kind of hell-thrash noise combo, but way rewarding with a bit of ear effort.
New album Capsized is less immediate than their previous album, So Embarrassing - it has even greater density and depth, each composition full of shifts and changes like a compressed classic Hollywood film soundrack. Expensive Habit has the jarring horns and drama of a hard-boiled Fifties crime drama; next (in The Castle Is Real) Pfeffer croons If you believe in something /With all of your heart it will come true with a shifted, edgy sweet-turned sour melody ...show tunes and soundtracks skewed and gone wrong, floors constantly shifting, like the scene where the bad guy drops a Micky Finn into the hero's Bourbon and the chase ends up in the Hall Of Mirrors. The tension of Bernard Herrman's Psycho and Taxi Driver orchestrations with Pfeffer's vocals doing 12-tone acrobatics -there can't be too many other bands headed by Schoenberg-influenced club singers out there.
The richness of sounds continues with dots and dashes of classical guitar, and the woozy, beautifully bleak orchestrated strings of Brackish Love, breaking in and out of peversely tense Cuban rythmns. Thousand Yard Stare is subltle and sinister - despite being arranged around delicate acoustic guitar; a combination of quiet guitar and trumpet, challenging themselves as always. So much going on in this album, it reveals yet another layer with every listen.
Capsized is almost overwhelming in its contrary imagination, the opposite of an earworm, taking ages to grab hold of the listener... but slowly growing more and more compelling as the details resolve and make sense.
Capillary Action are currently on tour in Europe and the UK, with three shows in London, including one with This Heat's legendary drummer Charles Hayward at the wonderful Cafe Oto, Dalston on the 8th June
Comprehensive Capillary Action web site: www.capact.com
Capsized full album at Capillary Action's Bandcamp
Free download at Tinymixtapes