Album review: "Prophet"
By Dan Miller
Friday, June 15, 2012
There’s no wrong way to compose a song; Brent Knopf’s career is proof of that. From his former role as frontman of quirky Portland, Ore., trio Menomena to his Ramona Falls project, Knopf produces strange, emotional pop that employs incongruous instrument combinations.
But on Ramona Falls’ second album, “Prophet,” the word “experimental” never translates to “self-indulgent.” Even more than its first album, “Intuit,” Ramona Falls’ new record is more direct and accessible. While Knopf never has tried to hide his melodies, on “Prophet” they’re front and center -- take the breezy “Helium” or shimmering opening track “Bodies of Water.”
In general, the volume is a bit louder on “Prophet,” too. The chugging “Sqworm” is thunderous at times, while other tracks (“Spore,” “Archimedes Plutonium”) possess an exuberant energy. These more boisterous songs blend well with Knopf’s quivering tenor, which remains cool no matter how loud things get.
In a musical Venn diagram, Ramona Falls lies in the rare overlap of brainy and accessible. For instance, the song “Proof” is deeply idiosyncratic. On that song, Knopf’s tinny acoustic guitar strumming gets interrupted by all manner of sounds: pianos, strings and electronic noise. But, as in the entirety of “Prophet,” the mastery in which the elements are blended prevents the song from seeming like a science experiment.