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Make A Rising - Infinite Ellipse And Head With Open Fontanel CD (album) cover

INFINITE ELLIPSE AND HEAD WITH OPEN FONTANEL

Make A Rising

RIO/Avant-Prog


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5 stars EXCELLENT.

The album begins (Sneffels Yokul), like their debut, with harmonic a capella, then breaking off into an amusing rhythm (amusing rhythms can be found all throughout the album, some really great percussion here) accompanied with an organic, colorful bass melody. It keeps at a nice pace and then suddenly pulls out the butcher's knife to show off the band's more aggressive tendencies. As quickly and as chillingly as the crescendo arrived, it disappears into the former world-music-esque visage... and then that disappears as well and introduces a solo piano (not solo-ING, just alone) playing one of the many hair-raising bittersweet melodies from this extraordinarily SYMBOLIC album (pun intended-- as the album title is really only two symbols).

From there, All One or None continues with haunting piano and a mixture of falsetto and baritone singing. The song is divided mostly in two sections, the first that I already mentioned, and then changing again adding melodic percussion along with the final words that really got to me: All my friends are here--they shouldn't move away, providing some daunting, dramatic irony. This is a slower, shorter ditty with a lasting impression on the album, especially with it's placement right after the upbeat and angry Snuffels Yokul.

Peaceful Paths begins thereafter with more of that disturbing lonely piano and tears open into an overwhelming, BIG-sounding chamber arrangement. After flirting with some pop-influence of repeating, Peaceful paths don't lead astray, it returns to chamber slowly building up and down through whooshes of rapid drumming and beautiful violin. Then as the chamber-music character walks, he falls into a cleverly-built trap!--a nightmarish and dissonant climax, falling back to a soft death including what I think is an accordion to end the violent and deadly rollercoaster.

The penultimate song on the album is the epic and wandering How's 'Bout a Love Supreme, which introduces itself calmly with piano and vocals. Within the next minute, the song evaporates in an ambient solution of animal noises, drones, echoes, and percussion, seemingly never to take its former state again. But it does for a short while. After this short lapse of harmony, jarring dissonance erupts out of the song's previous calm confines and soon resembles the soundtrack of some insane movie. Somewhat of a distraught and depressing happiness (similar to the crescendos of Peaceful Paths and Bradford Big Boatride). Woodsong Part Two comes afterward, following suit to Woodsong Part One's quirky, classical method. Trumpet succeeds and the album closes. Somewhat. Not really. You'll see.

Anyways, like I said, this is an amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing album. It's a beautiful patchwork of different sounds and textures. More energy than their debut, and many gentle and soft points in the album that give me goosebumps. You'll find tons of amazing orchestration including an array of many, many instruments. Highly recommended.

What do I know? What do I know?

Nothing. Nothing.

P.S. Buy this album when it comes out April 8th, this year!

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Send comments to mecca (BETA) | Report this review (#165720)
Posted Friday, April 04, 2008 | Review Permalink
avestin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Music that words can't describe

This is a sentence I come across often when listening, writing or talking about the bands and musicians I listen to. Not only is it hard (or almost impossible) to pinpoint then into specific genres (one will almost always not be enough) but to actually describe what they play is a daunting task for me. And this is before I said anything about it being good or bad. In this case, it's very good. It's even brilliant! This album has many of what I adore about music. It's refreshing, original, varied, interchanging, dynamic, explorative and experimental. It's all that, plus well played, well structured and appealing melodies. That's it, you can stop reading here and go listen to their music on their website and myspace and listen for yourselves. Or you can continue to read on if you want to know more.

But to come back to the issue, if there ever was a band I couldn't write easily about, describing their sound and style, Make A Rising would be it. A band that has come to create a sound of their own, which while making some references to other bands, is quite unique and very original in their approach and in their musical output. Filled with contrasts and twists, it is music that I love to listen to as it's filled with fun - not fun in the sense of goofy or humoristic music but fun in the sense that I feel uplifted listening to it. I am at a loss for words to describe their music; it is music to nicely fit under one tag, no style to apply to describe the myriad of sounds that appear in their albums. Make A Rising create not only a cross- genre approach, but also a great mixing of all of those into something that is rarely, if at all heard.

If asked what other bands come in mind when listening to them, again I find myself at odds; there are no immediate comparisons, but there are certain smaller pieces that I can find similarities to the likes of Time Of Orchis (vocals), Pochakaite Malko (use of folkish-elements and the building of an original and quirky style), Kayo Dot (the atmosphere on some of the songs), Cerebus Shoal (in the oddness and quirkiness of other songs) and even Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (some more theatrical side and also heavy riffing parts). There are other comparisons to be made, but the main point would be that all those references are for specific smaller parts in their music and when looking at it as a whole, they have a great sound of their own.

This being their second album, Make A Rising progresses on from their previous album both in production and in compositional style; the latter is built on what was done in the first album and going on from that point onwards. This album, much like the previous one is made up of songs which flow naturally one to the next, while each one has its own distinct identity. The style and rhythm varies between each song and also within the songs. Not only are those different styles mixing together wonderfully, but they're done very well. The variety also comes into play in the instrumentation that includes apart from the usual rock repertoire, piano, accordion, saxflute, trumpet, cello, marimba, flute, clarinet and violin. This is well heard in the special theatrical and, for lack of a better word, ethnic sound. There are songs, like "Woodsong Pt. 1", that have the classical instruments playing alone, adding another great facet to their sound repertoire. The continuation of this track in "Bradford's Big Boatride" is even better as they electrify the previous part, achieving what is to me their best song here; here they create what is a fascinating and excellent mix of most of the sounds appearing on their album, vocals harmonies, great guitar riffing, classical instruments giving their emphasis, brilliant and catchy chorus, fantastic composition overall combining the best of all they do throughout the album. There is so much going on this a bit longer than 4 minute song that it's such a joy to listen to. They could practically build a small concept on those 4 minutes alone.

What I particularly like is the contradiction they create with their heavy and complex parts and the quieter parts. It is less used here than their previous album. Their use of the classical instruments in both placements and making them suited to those is also very well done. Listen to how the violin is used in both settings. I also am in love with the complex and abrupt changes of rhythm and style, combining them effortlessly. This album also sees them showing their noise-making and improvisation skills ("How's 'bout A Love Supreme"), very well done, and I think they should expand on that as well in the future releases.

The band here shows how skilled they are, and how varied are their influences. They also show that they know how to take a previous achievement (their first release) and improve on it. I have great expectations from their next release based on this.

I feel I haven't done justice to this wonderful album in my review. If at all I feel I've diminished their achievement with my mumblings. This is a fabulous album, one that is already on the top of my favourite albums for this year and is quickly becoming a personal favourite, regardless f year.

More than just 4 stars.

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Send comments to avestin (BETA) | Report this review (#166066)
Posted Tuesday, April 08, 2008 | Review Permalink
Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Ever run into a band that you really couldn't describe musically? I have with this group. RIO seems to be the closest thing I can tie Make a Rising to; they really defy categorisation. INFINITE ELLIPSE AND HEAD WITH OPEN FONTANEL displays Make a Rising honing their style of music.

''Sneffels Yokul'' opens with a bang after an off-key acapella section. Probably one of the jumpiest tunes you'll find in the RIO corner, it quickly sweeps into an ever morphing track (slightly annoying) until it settles into quiet piano music for a few tracks. ''All One or None'' is a particularly moving track. ''Peaceful Paths'' is one of the upper highlights encompassing many facets of the bands sound before giving into a sea shanty in ''Bradford's Big Boatride''.

The second half kicks off with another highlight in ''Transmutation'', one of the louder and more embryonic pieces here. The next three tracks highlight the band's ability to create ethereal soundscapes and psychedelic backdrops before exploding into a big band excursion at the end of ''How's 'Bout a Love Supreme''. The two ''Woodsong'' pieces are more organic and sound like how they're named.

If you really want a unique listening experience, then lend your ears to Make a Rising; you'll find nothing else like it, and it's worth the investigation.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#288176)
Posted Friday, June 25, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars A mishmash musical experience not to be missed.

Ignoring familiar song structure, Make A Rising create an infectious sound that is impossible to pigeonhole. A list of what this music is not would be much shorter than a detailed description of the countless influences, instruments and ideas to be heard on their sophomore album. In fact, I probably can't say anything that previous reviewers haven't already stated about the general likability of this album, but I do feel it deserves more attention than it has received to date. I don't recall ever hearing an album (apart from their first) that was so diverse and challenging, yet rediculously fun and catchy. Trying to intelligently describe the music is a fruitless effort for a mind as tiny as mine so I'll throw out some simple adjectives: Fun. Whimsical. Trippy. Careless yet precise. Otherworldly. Nifty. Cheeky. Mesmerizing. Sublime. Unique. Charming.

I am indebted to PA for a few musical discoveries, Make A Rising being high on my list. RIO/Avant isn't my first prog love, or even in my typical top 5, but this band has dug deep into my cerebrum. What they have done is created a grouping of highly palatable melodies and grooves that could easily fit into any pop category while strongly stiff-arming the pop format. The individual songs are more like seperations in direction, if there ever was a destination in the first place. I dare you not to find this interesting.

Infinite Ellipse And Head With Open Fontanel is about as bizarre as the album title would suggest, and without a doubt a splendid experience. Perhaps the albums finest quality is that it is thoroughly enjoyable whether you try to voyage deep into it's layers, or as simple background music. It does not grow stale. Despite being relatively unknown, I truly hope they find success and continue to grow not only for my own selfish desires, but because they deserve it, artistically speaking.

If you've ever enjoyed any music fitting any of the descriptions above, give Make A Rising a solid listen. The production is superb, and the hooks stay with you. I would compare it to a quirky and fantastic party that has no real theme.

4.3333repeating stars.

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Send comments to Sgt. Smiles (BETA) | Report this review (#305915)
Posted Wednesday, October 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
TheGazzardian
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars You've been unsure about this album since you listened to the free EP that the band released in early 2011 (New I Fealing). Over the course of a full length album, can the band really top what they accomplished on that three track album? Isn't it riskier to pay money for an unsure thing, when the sure, good thing was free?

(Hey, you in the corner - yeah, you the guy looking confused. Are you telling me you haven't heard New I Fealing yet? Let me help ya out - go download that and give it a spin. If you like it even a little bit, direct your credit card to the nearest online retailer carrying this album.)

Infinite Ellipse and Head With Open Fontanel, despite having a name you will likely never remember, is an utterly superb piece of avant garde music, full of wonderful melodies, odd sounds, freakouts, weird lyrics, and songs with names like "Sneffels Yokul" and "Look, I'm Almost Dead". The cover art is laid out like all those Pendragon album covers - with all the little details and sub-stories going on - except it's a photograph instead of a painting, so they had to actually make all the weird stuff, not just imagine it. Yep, this is a weird band, thank goodness!

They can be strikingly sparse and emotional at times - Woodsong (parts 1 and 2) is a superb example of this, being carried pretty much completely by the quiet piano and the mournful horns. And they can also rock out and pound your ears with glorious, glorious sound and melody, as they demonstrate in pretty much every song. They've mastered the art of introducing a new melody or idea with a bang. Contrast is the name of the game here, and a quiet section may be interrupted by the introduction of an energetic theme on the trombone.

Seven vocalists, a marimba, trombone, cello, saxophone, flute, and the only traditional rock instrument in sight is a doublebass. And yet these guys rock pretty hard from time to time, and their music has an undeniable energy about it.

For sure, one of the better albums I have discovered in the past months. Oh, and I'm going to say this - this is better than New I Fealing. It's complex, it's fun, it's bizarre. And it's not a matter of quantity over quality - the highest moments here easily surpass the highest moments of New I Fealing. (And that's something that I never would have thought would be easy!)

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Send comments to TheGazzardian (BETA) | Report this review (#500293)
Posted Monday, August 08, 2011 | Review Permalink
frippism
COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars Make A Rising into my heart (I couldn't resist)

Make A Rising are a Philadelphia band who have managed to create an utterly strange blend of avant-pop with indie and prog altogether. "Infinite Ellipse And Head With Open Fontanel" is an album which showcases a unique take on popular songwriting altogether; without shame breaking up beautiful balladry and putting the pieces back together in their very own off-putting beautiful way.

With the beginning of "Sneffels Yokul" you can hear the very keen interest the band invests in developing strong and touching melodies into off-kilter directions. A beautiful choir offshoots into this strange almost 50s rock n roll guitar riff while strange tin sounds come spinning from all over and Justin Moynihan takes up the vocal melody and plays with it until all the band joins in on the fun and it becomes this utterly strange pop song, shifting between an almost hard rock riff into a bizarre repetitive exercise of the B major and C major scales, constantly going up and down while drums roll and saxophones and keyboards join the fun, with mysterious sounds are added on top. This is me describing the first minute and a half or so of the first song. And yet the transitions make so much sense and are done without corrupting at all the atmosphere Make A Rising manage to preserve throughout the entire album. The album manage to swiftly shift between near-classical pieces such as "Woodsong Part One"- which I really mean when I say that this is one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have heard in my life, to utterly bizarre time-shift changes and bassy synth pads in "Bradford's Big Boatride"- a track that doesn't shame itself with it's confounding psychedelic freakouts and weird vocal passages.

When the closing moments "How 'Bout a Love Supreme" closes off and rolls into the "epilogue" which is "Woodsong Part Two" you are very much aware of the massive accomplishment Make A Rising have managed to pull off here. They deliver a sound here which is so much their own it while being so strangely all-encompassing that for that alone the album should be given a spin, but the songwriting here is so sharp, so heart-wrenching, that this is more than a unique album, it is a damn good album as well.

It is about time I reviewed this utterly wonderful and strange album. An album that has accompanied me in the last few years or so and has without a doubt changed changed the way I've seen music completely. Make A Rising are a strange breed. It is almost as if the Beach Boys became massive fans of Henry Cow and decided to release an album with today's more modern sounds. A combination of bizarre and awe-inspiring piano ballads with hard-hitting and strange instrumental patterns with an almost indie style of song- writing. It is a brew that took me a while to accept and understand, but once it hit me it was a slap to the face- this is one of the most original sounding albums of the 21st century; playful and filled with the strange childlike wonder that frankly I have a soft spot for. "Infinite Ellipse And Head With Open Fontanel" is an album that I think should be in any pop music fan's collection as much as it should be in any prog and RIO's fans "classic collection".

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Send comments to frippism (BETA) | Report this review (#1131475)
Posted Friday, February 14, 2014 | Review Permalink

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