Capillary Action - So Embarrassing
Record Label: Pangaea Recordings
Release Date: January 1, 2008
So Frank Zappa and Mike Patton walk into a bar, right? Or, no wait... It was madman Jonathan Pfeffer and his clown car of contributing band members, and they walked into a recording studio. Although from the sound of Capillary Action’s addicting latest album, So Embarrasing, I’m sure there must have been just as many intoxicating beverages on hand at both locations.
Pfeffer stretches the concepts of “song” and “melody” to their extreme limits, jamming as many separate tunes and keys as possible into each track so that what the listener gets is basically a massive audio brainstorm held together by a thin line of continuity. It’s definitely a sensory overload, and there will certainly be a great number of more conservative listeners who won’t be able to tolerate the madness. But for the rest of us, the very fucked-up-ness of it all is what makes the album so totally awesome.
Fusing Sinatra-standards with random heavy metal guitar or free jazz phrases sounds like the formula for an overambitious and unbalanced clunker, but somehow these guys put the puzzle together very nicely. And on top of that, they even manage to make it sound pretty catchy. Check out “Elevator Fuck,” and it's incredibly infectious vocal melody and you’ll know just what I mean. That’s get-lost-in-your-thoughts whistling music if I’ve ever heard it.
Of course, for every uber-hook there’s also some intentional stretch of patience required somewhere else on the album (generally immediately before or after the catchy goods.) But these guys prove that good things come to those who wait. The impossible rhythm of “Father of Mine” is a pretty great example of the Capillary Action style, which I have dubbed “Difficult Easy Listening.”
Yes, it’s super obvious that this group locked themselves in a basement with a copy of Disco Volante for a month, but who cares if you can spot the influence? Nirvana sounded like Pixies, didn’t they? Besides, in the wake of disgustingly same-y radio-punk, it’s time to push into the next big trend: Everything-core! Where the kids regularly cry out: “Needs more dulcimer!”
So Embarrasing is so confusing, so chaotic, and so lovely. Different parts stick out with each repeat listen, so its definitely something worth hearing again and again. Either your head will explode or your heart will swell, but this album demands that something be destroyed. How about just “convention”?