Bliss(This) Records, 2004
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/21/2004
Oh Captain, my Captain! Why art thou Crimsonfaced?
Perhaps it's the dirty little ditty "Sex Song". Or perhaps it's the physical exertion of furious riffing that creates the foundation for this set of songs.
Captain Freak, a.k.a. Michael Trapp, is the sole performer, arranger and artist behind Crimsonfaced, an aggressive collection of synth-infused, industrial-strength guitar music. Trapp deftly covers three decades worth of diverse musical genres into a musical Frankenstein's monster - a satisfying mixture of industrial metal, 80's synth-pop, electronica, grunge and 70's arena rock. Trapp is a very talented musician and arranger. The songs (all recorded in his home studio) are lean and clean, and the sound is crisp. His stock in trade is multi-layered, heavy guitars, hyper-kinetic beats and creepy synths.
Out the gate with the opener "Terrified", Trapp wastes no time in showing you what he's all about. Driving rhythm, spastic guitar, and techno-beats merge into a satisfying blast of aggro-rock. "Blameless" follows in a similar vein with crunching guitar and a franticly syncopated drum signature. "Crazy" slows it down a bit, and then builds up and up, climaxing in a tasty Randy Rhodes inspired guitar solo. Other highlights are the grinding "The Creeps" and the toe-tapping angst of "Video".
"Wrong" is a track I returned to several times, as it showcases Trapp's formidable guitar skills. His evocative solos travel a wide sonic range. Combining speed, subtle tones and fluidity into a heavy 6-string mosaic that ranges from buttery-smooth to grinding devastation. Every trip along the fret board with the Capt. usually ends up being very satisfying.
Trapp is at the core an instrumentalist, but he proves to be a decent lyricist as well. His songs have heart and feeling, and a wicked sense of humor throughout. His record probably could have benefited from a more polished singer. However, his quirky voice gives the songs a decidedly twisted and homemade cast, which adds to the personality of the songs. Trapp's oddly frenetic vocals land somewhere between Les Claypool and Trent Reznor, not surprising as NIN is an obvious influence.
I've seen a lot of indie up-and-comers come and go, and frankly, most have been forgettable. Trapp has achieved what many have tried and failed, a homemade bitches-brew of great music that has staying power. He's done a very smart thing in offering it for free (details follow). With a little more polish and some of the same skills that produced Crimsonfaced, Trapp could certainly achieve more than just underground success. I feel like he's still finding his feet stylistically, but his musical foundation is solid. I'd like to see a bit more diversity in his compositions next time around. In any case, I'm eagerly looking forward to his future work.
You can hear it now, and you can get it free! You can listen or download the entire album of original music, plus 7 remixes FREE, at The Captain's Web site.