Listener, Heal thyself

The Cambiata’s new EP is a cure for many ills
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  January 31, 2008
QUIET BEGINNINGS ARE OVER: The Cambiata are growing up.

To Heal | Released by the Cambiata | with the Killing Moon + kid:nap:kin + the British Incline + Alias Grace | at the Station, in Portland | Feb 2

From the band:
It is not Cambiata’s intention to influence individual perception. However, it would be remiss of us to not educate our listeners who might be read this on what our intent was upon recording To Heal:

Pain is a struggle that binds human beings together. Many humans are rich, many poor. Nonetheless, we each face our own adversity regardless of our social/economic status, race, or religion. This being said, healing from our pain is a process with which each of us is familiar. To truly Heal is to look inward and recover from what you see. Only after this are you to face the world that surrounds you, and fall in love with it.

When one of the most buzz-inducing tracks making the rounds of the indie-nerd set is called “Oxford Comma,” it’s possible things are getting a touch too literary for your average music consumer. But if NYC-based Vampire Weekend are maybe too targeted toward the beard-and-sweater crowd, our own local hyper-intellectual troupe manage to appeal to everyone from your hardcore punks to readers of the (don’t) Go section.

The Cambiata are a band just about every true music lover should freak over, be they classically inclined or math rockers or old school be-boppers. The band project so much intensity, as though every note was an agonizing decision and yet was the only one that could have ever existed in that moment, you can’t help but be caught up in their crashing wave, pounded onto the sand, and then ripped back out to a sea of great ideas.

To Heal, a five-song EP that serves as a follow-up to 2006’s alternately thrilling and frustrating full-length Into the Night (which also won the 2007 Best New Album award from Portland Phoenix readers) is 27 minutes of vindication, proof that all of their promise is just a taste of what’s to come. From the Clockwork Orange chaos of the opening “All in All (Julie)” to the far-from-alien nine-minute epic “Roswell” that closes the disc, the Cambiata are dragged along by the indubitable force that is lead singer Chris Moulton, who continues to find ways to harness his incredible pipes, forgoing some of his screamo roots for more textured and mature tones that can seem to be all things to all listeners.

If there is any fault here, it is that the Cambiata can fall too often into the familiar indie trope of a quiet beginning, with just vocals and organ, maybe, that eventually builds into a larger rock song and, here, even a taste of grunge or thrash. But with Moulton, that opening is just so enthralling. On “Purple,” you might be reminded of the Modern Lovers’ “Hospital” (one of my favorite all-time tunes), but Moulton gasps his opening vocals like the life is rushing out of him from a gut wound: “All that we see/Thirsts all that I love/Shell glow, glow-oow/Re-mem-ber my name/When all this tide is cursive.”

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