The first thing one notices about Huntley Miller’s latest opus as Cepia is an emphasis on playfulness. There is a remarkable balance, though, between this and the melancholic beauty that is a common thread in his work, all of which is enhanced by an incredible attention to detail. Since his Natura Morta LP (Ghostly 2007) Miller has parted the blinds, exited the studio and headed out for a stroll in the fresh air.
Opening with “Untitled III”, no time is wasted getting that head nodding; the song’s irresistible thump and boisterous melody cleverly skirt four-on-the-floor standards and are adorned by an array of adroit rhythmic flourishes. The hook is baited, and Miller only steps up his game as the suite continues; his arrangements are impeccably well honed, as the interplay between subcutaneous chord progressions and elements in the foreground appears effortless. Such meticulous composition has rarely sounded so organic, like the deceptive simplicity of a meadow before one realizes the rich complexity within it.
The relaxed levity of Cepia is reflected in its song titles, too; one may not expect a piece to be called “Hootenanny” on a record like this, but it works perfectly. Standout “Me And My Gin” rolls on a well-kneaded chord structure complemented by an almost conversational melodic hook. In an alternate universe this is Top 40. The album closes with “Cord”, a piece whose meditative creaks conjure a deep orange sunset and all its exquisite sadness. The curtains are drawn on Cepia – Miller’s most dynamic and well-rounded effort to date – but its perfectly digestible running time will doubtlessly keep the listener coming back for more.
released December 7, 2010
written and produced by Huntley Miller
design by Kevin Smith
photo by Cameron Wittig
mastered by Dave Collins
published by Cepia Music (ASCAP) 2010