Three years ago, Make a Rising’s first album, Rip Through the Hawk Black Night, set a high bar for over-stuffed, elaborately arranged baroque pop, orchestrated through a chamber orchestra’s worth of woodwinds, strings, horns, percussion and piano. The main problem with the debut was the singing, watery, sometimes offkey and just not on a par with the rest of the album. With this, the second record from the Philly-based collective, that issue has been laid to rest—and all the other elements have been drawn together into sharper focus. Infinite Ellipse and Head with Open Fontane is a cleaner, clearer iteration of a fairly complicated aesthetic, tying its mad percussive intervals and swoons of late romantic violin to stronger more cohesive songs. Choral harmonies lead into pulsing, prog-driven rhythms in album opener, “Sneffels Yokul”, a slightly more urbanized take on Akron/Family’s communal vibe. Yet later in the cut, frantic, up-and-down-the-scales motion and pounding, rapid-fire rhythms places this song more in a post-jazz-post-classical mode. The piano on this CD is consistently quite lovely, not in any way rock-oriented, but rather hinting at a love of romantic composers like Grieg and Schumann, as well as later classicists Debussey and Satie. You hear it best on the two “Woodsong” pieces, in both cases accompanied by a somber mass of sustained notes—accordion, clarinet, melodica and violin. More upbeat, buoyant cuts like “Transmutation” rattle along joyously, and loosely knit textures of voice, xylophone, violin and clarinet join in a carnival waltz. Melodies take unexpected half-turn steps, while rhythms jut and stutter in off-kilter ways. Nothing proceeds in a straight line, but all somehow makes sense. Infinite Ellipse is an Escher drawing of an album, surfaces impacted with impossible angles, yet somehow wholly logical and in tune with itself.
Topics: make a rising