Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: 31 Knots, Barsuk Records, Brent Knopf, Danny Seim, Death Cab for Cutie, Intuit, Loch Lomond, Menomena, Mirah's band, Ra Ra Riot, Ramona Falls, Releases of the Week, The Helio Sequence, They might be Giants
PREVIEW: Download Ramona Falls “Melectric”
WE GIVE IT: 17/20 Watts
Barsuk Records, responsible for such acts as Death Cab for Cutie, They Might Be Giants and Syracuse’s own Ra Ra Riot, has another memorable venture to add to its hall of fame. Brent Knopf of Menomena, following in the footsteps of his fellow band member Danny Seim, has embarked on a “solo” side-project of his own — if you can call a collaboration with 35 different musicians as a solo-project, that is. Knopf teamed up with members of The Helio Sequence, Mirah’s band, Loch Lomond and 31 Knots, to name a few, for his new endeavor Ramona Falls’ Intuit.
Intuit, due this Tuesday, is charming, melodic and full of sentimental nostalgia that immediately captures the soul. Knopf creates an unexpectedly impeccable harmony by exploring a range of sounds we rarely have the pleasure of hearing. Rather than relying on mechanical jingles, he finds bliss in seemingly basic instrumentals.
The opening song “Melectric” is an instant masterpiece. The track starts with light piano strokes as subtle as a whisper, gradually blending with Knopf’s tenor. The melody builds into a full symphony orchestra, but the sound is hardly in dissonance. Knopf uses the opening keys to balance the escalating orchestral waves with subtle undertones. The song is a rollercoaster of symphonic flourishes and single instrument acoustics. “Melectric” is so pleasantly unexpected, it’s impossible to fully comprehend in just one listen.
With second track “I Say Fever,” Knopf dives into heavy, metallic sounds, and somehow makes the track sound like ethereal techno perfection. It merges a dance beat with something resembling a Gregorian chant humming “four years” towards the end of the track. All of this, topped off with violin chimes, which miraculously turn into guitar riffs, would seem like an unbearable cacophony, yet instead is addictive musical perfection.
With “Russia,” Knopf shows off his lyrical creativity, taking his listeners on an eerie trip through Egypt, the taming of Komodo dragons and a lover’s rejection. This narrative approach continues throughout the rest of the album, dominant in tracks like “Going Once, Going Twice” and “Salt Sack.”
In track seven, “Boy Ant,” Knopf takes a small breather with a mellow piano part. Though only 53 seconds long, the track is necessary in transitioning to the conclusion of the album — especially considering the darker melodies that consume the following track, “Always Right.”
The final song, “Diamond Shovel” brings the album to a fulfilling conclusion. The track ideally outlines Knopf’s voice, relying only on acoustic guitar chimes as a backdrop. The melancholy, soft melody is unlike the rest of the album, yet without it the collection would seem incomplete.
Knopf indeed has a winning product with Intuit. The work is nearly flawless, and definitely memorable, with Knopf sure to leave a mark all his own on the indie music scene, independent of Menomena.
— Irina Dvalidze