Make A Rising will be releasing their second album Infinite Ellipse and Head with Open Fontanel , this Spring. The band resolved early on to have an ever-evolving sound. There are certain reference points in the music, but the band has never been limited itself into a specific genre. The concept of the band is that of Make A Rising as a “composition” group. The band writes music slightly out of its own comfort zone; so as the band has evolved, they have had to change the way they write. Each Make A Rising song distinctly Make A Rising, but at the same time, they have no two songs that are closely similar. Though all the members contribute to the process, brothers Justin and Jesse Moynihan are the main writers in the group. Like its predecessor, Infinite Ellipse‘s tracks vary not only from each other, but have numerous various parts in each song. Very rarely is anything straightforward or obviously sequential.Â One of the key attributes of the band is not only how well they integrate different musical genres, but how well they seemlessly weave disparate sounds together.Â Thanks to an early tour, there’s been a fair amount of press release press hitting news stands and computer screens already, a sampling of which you’ll find below.
Supposedly, the people inside of those weird costumes are the five members of Make A Rising, a Philadelphia experimental act that makes music that falls somewhere between ambient sound and Beach Boys-inspired indie-pop. At the act’s show tonight at P.A.’s Lounge, you’ll probably hear keyboards, guitars, bells, whistles, and noisemakers. We bet the band will be playing those noisemakers extra loud tonight; after all, this is Make A Rising’s last tour stop before it heads home to Philly. Meredith Goldstein/Boston Globe 3/26
Careful what you wish for. If you listen to Make a Rising’s second album, Infinite Ellipse and Head with Open Fontanel (High Two), hoping the avant gentlemen will obliterate your brain, you might not be prepared for how they achieve the desired effect. Rather than fill every space with noise, they overwhelm and then pull back, leaving you alone with the thoughts you were trying to escape in the first place. Opener “Sneffels Yokul” combines restless percussion, hard-rock pomp, digital manipulation, birdsong and a spooky choir to distill your darkest dreams; a prescient (if slightly giggly) children’s chorus sings the disc to a close a moment after the moody keys and muted horns of “Woodsong Part Two” fade into the ether. “How ‘Bout a Love Supreme” builds slowly from a wistful piano melody to a kitchen-sink carnival of grunts and clangs. But when the noise drops out, all that’s left are piano, chimes and a quiet voice. It’ll clear your mind of everything but the existential pain that will dog you until you die. The West Philly collective, led by Justin and Jesse Moynihan, just got back from a three-week tour, so their homecoming show should be even more gloriously sleep-deprived and manic than usual.
MJ Fine/Philadelphia City Paper 3/27
Â Â Â Â A funny thing happens once you stop trying to make sense of Make a Rising and simply accept them as imaginative weirdos: Their songs seem less like showy acts of theatrics and more like pleasantly batty pop dressed in flamboyant robes. The West Philly troupe may employ homemade props and costumes, cycle through drastic mood swings in record time, and reach for the stars with their swooning, orchestral racket, but it’s all done with immense affection and an eerie attention to detail.
Â Â Â Â Skeptical? Pick up their new album Infinite Ellipse and Head With Open Fontanel, and slap on a pair of headphones. See what I mean? Insane though it is, the album gels better and more quickly than their previous effort-2005’s Pitchfork-lauded Rip Through the Hawk Black Night-and is as notable for its sense of control as for its careening energy. That said, if you thought Man Man were the most puckish live band in the town, you haven’t seen Make a Rising.
Between albums, the band expanded to a six-piece lineup that includes piano, trumpet, clarinet, violin and accordion on top of guitar/bass/percussion, and an impressive cast of guests culled from bands like Buried Beds and Fern Knight. The songwriting is helmed by brothers Justin and Jesse Moynihan, who delve into the inherent creepiness and magic of the outdoors to spin their vivid visions.
Â Â Â Â “Peaceful Paths” is a grandiose number with slow saloon-style piano, swelling horns and harmonies, a foreboding guitar line, and the airy refrain, “Let love find you.” On the other end of the spectrum, “Your Karmic Obstacle” opens with humble clattering and then suddenly becomes a straight-arrow indie rock song for a minute or so, proving Make a Rising could be half-normal if they tried. Thank goodness they don’t, though. Doug Wallen/Philadelphia Weekly 3/26
Â Â Â Â Another complex and often riveting listening experience from the folks in Make A Rising. The folks in this band impressed quite a few folks with their last offering in 2005 (Rip Through the Hawk Black Night). As was the case with the last album, describing the songs and sounds on Infinite Ellipse and Head With Open Fontanel is a difficult task. These folks create music that is influenced by a wild variety of artists from different decades. And because the songs shift in and out of different random genres, the average listener is bound to become confused and inundated. To try and describe the overall sound… Some of the softer vocal passages are sometimes reminiscent of Robert Wyatt…while the instrumental sections combine elements from soundtrack music with progressive dinosaur bands from the 1970s. Interestingly, while the music is indeed complex and unusual, this CD is by no means a difficult listening experience. Rather and instead, the album as a whole flows by effortlessly and is (at least most of the time) very easy on the mind and ears. At this point in time when there are far too many interchangeable generic carbon copy bands…the folks in Make A Rising are refreshingly different. Highly recommended.Don Seven/Babysue.com April update
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE GENRE OF MUSIC?
Whatever it may be, Make a Rising has you covered.
The Philadelphia sextet joyfully and masterfully incorporates anything and everything into its cauldron of sound, jumping from prog to folk to classical to chamber pop – sometimes within the same song.
The band’s upcoming album, “Infinite Ellipse and Head With Open Fontanel” (High Two), builds on the promise of its 2005 debut, “Rip Through the Hawk Black Night,” losing none of its offbeat charm while remaining surprisingly listenable. The zaniness of the group’s live performances matches its music, with costumes that would make Sun Ra proud and show-ending processions through the crowd.
Make a Rising plays the Velvet Lounge on March 24, and singer/guitarist/violinist Jesse Moynihan talked to Express from a tour stop in Pittsburgh about the band’s songwriting process, how the musicians keep things fresh and the irrelevance of pop music.
Â» EXPRESS: It seems most attempts to describe your sound end up with people listing a handful of wildly different artists in one of those “blank meets blank meets blank” sort of ways. How do you describe what you sound like to, say, an aunt who might not understand some of those references?
Â» MOYNIHAN: I’d get my aunt to watch “The Holy Mountain” and tell her that we try to sound how that movie looks.
Â» EXPRESS: Your live shows are pretty wild, even a bit of chaotic at times, how do you translate that to the records?
Â» MOYNIHAN: We do our best to live up to our records. We try to design our sets to reflect a macrocosmic scope. Sometimes we don’t have enough time so we play more immediate material, but it’s always best when we can stretch out in attempt to reach the depth of our albums.
Â» EXPRESS: What is the songwriting process like?
Â» MOYNIHAN: For the most part, a member will bring a nearly complete piece to the group. We’ll rehearse it for a while and make necessary changes; altering arrangements, cutting sections. We almost never jam. Jams usually result in lazy sounding material to me. Cutting and pasting happens a lot. That probably stems from a longtime obsession with Brian Wilson‘s composition methods during his “Smile” years.
Â» EXPRESS: You really make an effort to have no songs that sound too similar, does that become tough to do after a while?
Â» MOYNIHAN: Yes. In fact I went through a yearlong writer’s block because I was trying to dramatically change they way I approach music. I couldn’t live up to my expectations and just stared at a wall for months on end. Our pianist went through similar troubles, writing arrangements for instruments we couldn’t play in order to get away from rock music. In general things have come back together lately. I decided to relax and take smaller steps, but keeping that creative momentum is a major challenge I guess. The last thing we want is anyone expecting us to do one thing over and over.
Â» EXPRESS: The music is often described as “weird” or “off-kilter,” something along those lines. Do you actually think it’s weird?
Â» MOYNIHAN: Sometimes I’ll write a section and bring it to the group, knowing that they’ll be scared to try it, or I’ll be scared to try it because the idea is too far out or maybe of questionable taste. But that’s the fun of it. So I guess we are weird. We never use conventional song structures so that makes us off-kilter. Those terms are accurate I guess. But they’re also kind of lazy.
Â» EXPRESS: Do you ever get the urge to just write a three-minute power-pop song with a handful of chords?
Â» MOYNIHAN: Yes. We’re all fans of pop music. But pop music is irrelevant. I’m getting older and can’t spend my time writing songs that won’t matter in 5 years. We do incorporate pop ideas all over the place, but the music has to reflect something deeper or else I’d feel like I was wasting my time.
Â» EXPRESS: Any new costumes or processions on tap for this tour?
Â» MOYNIHAN: Yeah, we’ve been wearing glittery reptilian and fish costumes. Sometimes I wear a gnome head. Usually the fish get sacrificed early in the set and re-emerge as gremlin-looking creatures. I’ve been putting together a psychic-projection helmet but I’m still working out the kinks. And our drummer has been building a pyramid with a removable top in our basement. That’s not done either.
Â» EXPRESS: What have been some of the more bizarre reactions you’ve received from people who saw you in concert who didn’t know exactly what to expect?
Â» MOYNIHAN: When we were just starting out an audience member yelled “No!” at us in reaction to what I can only guess to be a compositional decision he disapproved of. That was one of the worst shows of my life. The other night in Houston, the DJ apparently was so blown away that he couldn’t spin his records after our set. I think he said something like, “I have no idea what I just saw”. Meg Zamula/ReadExpress.com 3/24