Bands like Gojira and Godflesh might be major brand names ‘round these parts, but mention them to your average Metallica-loving broseph and you’re likely to get a squinty-eyed, the-fuck-you-say? half-nod. But Decibel just won’t quit. We dig deeper, danker, darker and dirtier (though rarely fitter or happier) to turn up a few otherwise overlooked gems. Throw Me a Frickin’ Bone scribe Kevin Stewart-Panko and I have teamed up to bring you the stealthiest bandcampiest demos, EPs, singles, one-offs, full-lengths, and start-up acts that catch our attention and give us goosebumps. Here comes the latest installment of Frickin’ Bone 2.0: Bonin’ the Interhole.
Philly’s CAPA traffic in that false black metal that the purists are always bellyaching about, which is to say that Shallow Towers dabbles in blast ‘n’ scream tirades, ambling pastoral post-rock, field recorded background buzz and rushes of sublimated aggression. Moan on, ye hard and uncompromising, while the more adventurous among us use Shallow Towers to explore the deeper pools of fear and unreason within. And there’s promise of more, if big cheese Brandon Baun’s offhand comment is any indication: “Sorry about the delay, we were in the studio all day yesterday finishing some new material.”
Here is the first segment of Shallow Towers, as well as a recap(a) of the band’s origins, pathways and destinations from Brandon Baun’s own mind.
CAPA – Shallow Towers I (9:30) [audio:https://www.decibelmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/01-Shallow-Towers-I.mp3|titles=CAPA – Shallow Towers I]
What are the origins of CAPA?
CAPA started as a solo ambient side-project a number of years ago when my primary focus was still on my previous band Lenore, and evolved from there. Each release has had an almost completely different cast of musicians and artists, aside from myself and Matt, who also played guitar in Lenore.
How has CAPA grown over the past few years?
With each release we’ve been growing musically and conceptually. It was my goal while writing Shallow Towers to take elements from our first release, The Road is a Grey Tape, and expand upon them while advancing the narrative musically, as well as through our artwork and lyrics. The style of each album is also heavily influenced by the content of the narrative that runs through each release. The Road is a Grey Tape is mostly composed of organic instrumentation that is densely layered to represent a character who leaves society to attempt to live in nature. With Shallow Towers, we wanted to keep the dense musical aspect but in a more oppressive, heavy setting, while aiming to simultaneously progress and clarify the narrative of The Road is a Gray Tape and its themes.
What music have you found inspirational as you develop your own musical voice?
Musically, I would say we are primarily influenced by ambient/atmospheric black metal bands such as Wolves in the Throne Room, Burzum and Deafheaven, as well as post-metal bands like ISIS, Cult of Luna, Terra Tenebrosa, etc. However, it’s our goal (however subtly) to also incorporate elements of post-hardcore, world music, classical music, minimalism, surrealism, progressive music, etc. I also feel that there is generally an underlying atmospheric/ethereal element which pervades our music as well. I know for me personally, ambient composers such as Brian Eno have been hugely influential in developing my musical voice because his music was some of the first that I felt really transported the listener to a new place and created a new musical space I felt I could live in, which is a feeling I like to try and recreate with my own music. The cast of people who have performed with CAPA have their own broad set of influences though, so hopefully some of that seeps into the music as well.
What are your feelings about Shallow Towers, especially in relation to your earlier recording? Does it match your vision for the music?
In my opinion, Shallow Towers is the most complete recording we’ve released to this point. I had been working on parts that would become Shallow Towers years before The Road is a Grey Tape was even conceived, back when I was still doing Lenore. Both albums however, match our vision for the music, but I think that that vision evolves simultaneously with the music in many ways, which is why Shallow Towers and The Road is a Grey Tape are such different albums. With Shallow Towers, that evolution has progressed a step further, but both still fit our musical vision.
What was the writing/recording journey like for this record?
I had been working on Shallow Towers for four years before it had even been recorded. It has, to this day, been the most physically, emotionally, and monetarily draining album that I have ever recorded. Every riff, motif, and section has a purpose that fits conceptually with the story we are trying to tell. We actually just finished recording two new songs, one of which is an acoustic re-imagining of “Shallow Towers I”, which will fit conceptually with the album and be released as B-sides exclusively for the vinyl release of Shallow Towers to come later this year.
What directions do you hope to pursue with further CAPA work?
For the final release in the CAPA trilogy, we hope to build upon the style we established in the preceding two EPs, while hopefully pushing more boundaries and finishing the story arc we began with The Road is a Grey Tape. The new album will be continuing the black metal/post-metal style established in Shallow Towers while hopefully tying everything together thematically and musically.
What non-CAPA activities are you into (musically or otherwise)? What non-musical art or experiences are important to you and the music you create?
Outside of CAPA, I have composed classical music for the Philadelphia String Quartet and compose ambient music. In terms of the concept behind CAPA, we are heavily influenced by authors like Albert Camus and Stanislaw Lem. The writings of Marcel Duchamp have been another important non-musical artistic influence for me. To listen to some other bands that have/had members of CAPA, check out Lenore’s “Transference”, and Baran’s split with Arctique Circles.
Any other thoughts you’d like to add for our D-blog readers?
Be on the lookout for the Shallow Towers 12” vinyl release (featuring two new songs) coming soon. Also, both of our albums are still available to download free off of our Bandcamp page.