Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Department of Reviews: So Embarrassing

Capillary Action: So Embarrassing. 2008. Pangaea Recordings: 80270 23152.

Jonathan Pfeffer: vocals, guitars
Spencer Russell: acoustic bass, electric bass, vocals
Ricardo Lagomasino: drums, percussion
Kevin McHugh: keyboards, vocals

Zachary Crystal: percussion
Johnny Butler: tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone
Matthew Nelson: tenor saxophone
Ryan Snow: trombone
Andy Hunter: trombone
Jeffrey Young: violin
Jessica Pavone: viola
Caleigh Drane: cello

This one has been spinning around more than a few times in the HurdAudio airspace as the mad, manic talents of Jon Pfeffer manages to channel a small army of extreme voices into a wicked splatter of poly-stylized rhythm and noise.

The wide ranging jump cuts and abrupt transitions are an immediate attraction to this energetic flexing of contrasting extremes slapped together at sharp angles. The quality of the horn and string arrangements throughout this haze of free jazz, heavy metal, flamenco, tango and punk collision by itself is reason enough to recommend this listening experience. But all of this deeply creative arranging is in the service of a song writing that manages to withstand the relentless churning of sonic textures and densities with a thin strand of poetic thread. The sense of wide contrasts takes on a new dimension as the angriest and most indignant words are often given the softest, most calm delivery and textures within a set capable of turns toward screaming freak outs and blazing bar chords at the slightest provocation.

Lurking within the shadows of light and dark emotions and textures is a relentless sense of humor wrapped in odd meters and splashes of inspired-yet-sarcastic fragments of edgy smooth jazz. The difficult, forced proximity of so many stylistic reference points reinforces the personal expressions of uncomfortable situations told in the words of these songs. In its probing, scatter shot honesty it hits several raw nerves along the way. It's urban, funny, angry, bitter, brainy and it never lets up. Capillary Action is heavy on the action side while never losing its sense of pulse.

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