Release Date: May 1, 2012
Record label: Barsuk
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Intuit, Brent Knopf’s first full-length under the Ramona Falls moniker, then a side project, was an inventive release merely hinting at the raw talent and originality displayed throughout the entirety of Prophet. Maybe his departure from his former band, the rightfully massively critically acclaimed Menomena, spurred Knopf to achieve something truly incredible on his own. The heights reached here may also be due in part to finally settling in with a new band, instead of endless collaborations like the ones that littered Ramona Falls’ debut.
Brent Knopf is mad as hell and—wait, that’s not right. On Knopf’s second album as Ramona Falls, the ex-Menomena member wipes away much of his previous outfit’s underlying angst for an outing that’s a surprisingly optimistic take on his trademark jazz-fueled rock. There are still hints of ennui bubbling to the surface. “Sqworm” includes one of his most furious guitar pieces to date, where Knopf proves he doesn’t have to shout to get us to feel his pain.
Ramona FallsProphet[Barsuk; 2012]By Brendan Frank; June 8, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetQuick, what does a BCE Greek mathematician have in common with a radioactive element that was first synthesized over two thousand years after his death? If you had guessed nothing, you would have been correct up until a few weeks ago. “Archimedes Plutonium” is the fifth track on Prophet, and aside from being the strongest track on the album, its title really sums up what Brent Knopf (formerly of Menomena) does so well with his music. Taking completely different sonic elements and making them feel like they’ve always belonged together is something of a specialty of his.
Just about every song on Prophet, the second album from ex-Menomena multi-instrumentalist Brent Knopf's Ramona Falls, borrows its title from one natural phenomenon or another: "Spore", "Bodies of Water", "Helium", that sort of thing. Knopf, the guy who introduced the Digital Looping Recorder to Menomena, has a longstanding fascination with the tensions between the natural and the mechanical. The intricately arranged album is a good showcase for Knopf's cut-and-paste perfectionism; Prophet, like 2009's Intuit, is vast and symphonic one moment, stark and intimate the next.
The thing about Portland art rockers Menomena was that they were such an utterly collaborative force–their live shows akin to watching three guys play a game of musical chairs with the instruments onstage. As a result, when Brent Knopf left the group early last year to focus on his Ramona Falls side project, it was difficult to know what to expect. Prophet is Knopf’s second full-length as Ramona Falls but his first since officially leaving his old band.
“I have to, have to, have to let go/Of total control. ” That’s how Brent Knopf begins Prophet, the ex-Menomena frontman’s sophomore release with Ramona Falls. It’s an appropriately contradictory introduction to an album that, musically, strikes a gorgeous balance between restraint and cosmic expansion, but vocally suffers from just too much control.