Capital M

Capital M


Founded in 2004, CAPITAL M is an innovative electric chamber ensemble that seeks real and total integration between modern classical music and vernacular styles such as rock and jazz. Capital M performs intricate compositions with all the blistering energy and sonic chaos of a heavy metal band.


“Both a crack new-music ensemble and a convincing rock band”
–Steve Smith, Time Out New York

Capital M is a unique electric chamber ensemble that lives between the edges of contemporary classical music, hard rock, and creative improvisation. Guided by influences as diverse as Steve Reich and Musicians, King Crimson, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and Japanese avant-jazz guitarist Uchihashi Kazuhisa, composer and bandleader Ian Moss fuses advanced compositional techniques with the visceral thrill of metal and the improvisational freedom of experimental jazz for an unprecedented combination of grit and grace. Though the music of Capital M occupies the enigmatic territory between several genres, the band always strives to integrate its disparate influences fully and naturally into the musical and concertgoing experience.

The band’s signature piece, “Drum Cells,” which was originally written for one of Yale University’s legendary all-night New Music Marathon concerts in spring 2002, is emblematic of this approach. Variable in length, the piece consists of a series of one- to two-measure “cells” that band members repeat an unspecified number of times and piece together in unpredictable ways. With the vast majority of the musical material in the piece coming from the slow Chicago blues tradition, the music sounds strangely familiar despite its rhythmic displacement. The effect is of a music that wants to make sense but never quite gets there—making the band’s sudden transition to a full-on, speed-punk groove halfway through all the more shocking when it happens.

Or take “Reinventing the Wheel,” the first track from Capital M’s self-titled debut album, which may be the first rock song ever to combine mathematical process music, free improvisation, chance procedures, and normal through-composed music in the same piece. Despite its internal complexity, the end result is surprising in its tightly cohesive, even danceable, jam-band-esque vibe.

Current members of Capital M include Ian Moss, processed vocals; Mike Gamble, electric guitar; John Hadfield, drums; Peter Hess, reeds; Brad Kemp, bass; and Kyle Sanna, electric guitar. Capital M’s musicians possess extensive classical training and have played in such diverse ensembles as the Michael Gordon Philharmonic, Jerseyband, Ethos Percussion Group, Mark Gould’s Pink Baby Monster, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Anti-Social Music, and Music from China. Capital M was originally formed in May 2004, and made its debut as part of Frank J. Oteri’s “21st Century Schizoid Music” concert series at Cornelia Street Café. Subsequent appearances have included the 2006 Full Force Festival (curated by John Zorn), the 2005 CMJ Music Marathon, an Eastern Seaboard tour in August 2005, and a CD release party at the Knitting Factory with Elliott Sharp. Capital M presented its first annual World Premieres Extravaganza at the Cutting Room in March 2006, featuring new works by Frank J. Oteri, David Claman, Monika Heidemann, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Bradley Kemp, and Ian Moss.

“A real artistic edge”
–Greg Sandow,

“The kind of experimental, genre-bending music that Capital M is pioneering holds great promise for audience-building for 'serious' music among people who cut their musical teeth on rock....extremely daring and diverse...thoroughly engaging. The composers all took risks and the Capital M gang played with genuine commitment.”

–Jerry Bowles,


Capital M - September 27, 2005
(34-minute EP/LP)

Set List

Riff Study No. 1 (8')

Reinventing the Wheel (variable length, about 13')

Air Around (10')

Incoming Queen (5')

Art (7')

Drum Cells (variable length, 8'-20')

Imagined Overtures for rock band in 1/6-tones (12')

Blackout (8')


We will usually play some combination of these pieces equaling 40 minutes or so, depending on the situation.