Capillary Action is an American avant-rock/experimental music group formed at Oberlin College in 2004 by Jonathan Pfeffer, the group's sole constant member.
Capillary Action's music is characterized by its emphasis on structure, density, lush orchestration, disjointed melodies, distinctive chord progressions, and wide dynamic range. There is often a carefully constructed philosophy underpinning each release. Pfeffer cites Tom Ze, Mercedes Sosa, Shudder to Think, Ornette Coleman, Kate Bush, Converge, Rogerio Duprat, Jorge Ben, Bartok, Scott Walker, György Ligeti, and Phil Spector as major influences.
Capillary Action has exhibited a strong DIY ethic, inspired by SST-era punk, releasing records on its own label Natural Selection Records and touring relentlessly. The group has performed across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Europe alongside Beirut, Dirty Projectors, Deerhoof, Les Claypool, Rhys Chatham, Shudder to Think, Joe Lally, and Dos, among many others.
In 2009, Boston Phoenix named Capillary Action the Best New Band from New York.
In 2011, Capillary Action performed at Willisau Jazz, Primavera, Poprevo, Rumor, and Budějovický Majales Festivals.
While the group has been based at various points in its career in Oberlin, Ohio; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington; and Brooklyn, New York. As of 2011, Capillary Action's current members—percussionist Colin Hacklander, double bassist Michael Harrist, accordionist Julian Chin, and trumpeter John DeHaven (Bon Iver)– are spread across Brooklyn, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Boston.
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