“Intuit” – ‘Ramona Falls’
I’ve had a pretty large selection of albums to choose from this week, which is a nice, surprising change to the usual struggle. Despite the numbers, there have only been a small handful worth a second listen, and smaller still, those who deserve an in-depth study. This week’s selection hit me like a ton of bricks, and I was awestruck – epic-context?
… I doubt, but there are a fair few songs which deserve a credible mention and some that just need to be applauded. I didn’t expect to love ‘Dappled Cities’ so much, and their well-crafted “Zounds” was a slap-in-the-face for newcomers and regulars to Highly Evolved; seeing as it was probably the only album in the past month which we’ve totally agreed on. To keep you guys updated on the music-scene is our primary task, and we’re still here to bring you the best that we can find. Other than the amazing wave of well-rounded, genre-spanding albums, this week’s selection should still be delightful, and my partner’s “contract” to review ‘War Tapes’ is a well-earned attribute to the site and his own personal prestige. At a hundred-plus posts, Highly Evolved has been running for about two-thirds of the year, and little by little, you guys and us alike are getting things moving and out there.
So, cheers to all on that subject. “Intuit” by ‘Ramona Falls’ is a “Zounds” sound-alike, and although they have some uncanny similarities, there’s still enough difference for you to get fully immersed in “Intuit” nonetheless. What you’ve all been waiting for:
Now when I start to even think about the word ‘genre’, and apply it to my friend “Intuit”, I get a little lost to be honest. I’ve read some messed-up b.s. like freak folk or the vague, understated quality called quirky. I suppose in some respects, quirky is just a synonym for unusual, unique, etc. I’m not a big folk-fan, so I’m not going to go in-depth on the whole folk scene, but if it’s the folk I’m thinking of, like 60’s-80’s, then it’s far from – it has some elements from the current decade, I’ll admit, but nothing too serious to be too detrimental. Some have suggested avant-garde, but the music is less than futuristic, and I doubt it will bring in the next renaissance, or some such. I guess it has affiliations to our favourite mongrel-genre, indie, because it has that raw lyrical-talent, a decent mix of acoustic and rock influences, and a tasty mix of experimental that epitomises the occasional track. I feel safe in the assumption of indie, and wild when I mention experimental. It dips its toes in either pond and never stays for long.
But if your looking for some sort of contextualisation, have a thorough listen first, and compare it to “Zounds”, because they’re both juggling with the same concepts, its just some are more prominent in one than they are in the other. At a limiting 45-min approximately, tracks length for about four-minutes on average, with only one one-minute example, and a couple of fivers. It is deceptively slow, however, and the lack of constant upbeat tempo does allow for tracks to drag their feet a little and lengthen, in turn, their passing. For electric rock lovers, you’ll find yourselves without a partner to dance with, for experimental lovers, you’ll dance a few, and drink on others, because acoustic really does reign supreme throughout; hence the folk-like elements. The album kind of has this downward-spiral effect, where it will begin as one thing and end as another. I’ve only seen one album do this in all of my reviewing, and so far it has worked to an advantage.
Lyric-lovers will be in heaven, because their vocalisation is clean and audible, harmoniously-tied with accompanying instrumentation, and just generally well-placed and wonderfully written. Other than that, they’re really defined by the music, rather than by themselves.
“Melectric” opens for “Intuit”, and it’s a soft, delicate beginning to a generally intimate-album. The drip of piano wavers in its isolation, and picks up with an accompanying chord. When the implosion of percussion suddenly appears, the beat of drumsticks echoes in the background and out come the lyrics:
“Has it flashed before my eyes, like rain crashing from skies, I am shaking by the sight…”
The buzz of a deep, low, solitary bass backs this, and the strum of mandolin/banjo emphatically joins the party. Crescendos build here and there with the help of percussion, and these instruments and the vocals layer upon each other to form the entirety that is “Melectric”. It really is an eye-opening track, and it sets the scene for the album. It’s classic shift from all-to-none – by this I mean the stop-start of instrumentation – does create agonising suspense. Building, building, building to the end, louder, louder, louder, still – classic musical equation, very nicely composed. It is one of my favourites, I’ll admit.
“I Say Fever” follows and it’s where we see that folk influence kind of prominently appear. The vocals stay the same, it’s just the layered composition. When I said experimental, it’s just that mix of instrumentation that features heavily – I don’t particularly enjoy the track on a whole, as it follows the same routine as before. It’s lacking something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
When we get to “Clover”, another favourite, we see the first appearance of synth. Now, what the hell am I saying, it is my favourite. It’s got absolutely everything I love, it’s what “Wooden Ships” is to “Zounds”, it’s what “Escape From The Sun” is to ‘Operahouse’. I love the balance of synth and acoustic and electric, the persevering sound of synthesised piano where it is otherwise subdued, the acoustic percussion, the experimental touches of electric rock, and the layering of sound on top of sound. It is soy-perb:
“… If every tree… points to a star…”
“If I’m dreaming you, and you’re dreaming me, then why don’t we choose a different story?”
Are my absolute-favourite lyrical phrases that this album has to offer. They’re just great. “Russia” follows this, and it brings back the intimacy that was a little less noticeable in “Clover”. The duo of acoustic guitar and vocals are sublime, and they make for a one-on-one environment. When the strum of mandolin/banjo appears, it isn’t heard in a folk-like way, and when the staccato of violin drips in elegantly, it really does build to introduce the piano and the percussion.
“… A trip to the Nile, where I started swimming…”
“… I fought with the dragons, and when it was over, their tales were wagging, for I taught them tricks, said sit dragon sit…”
Are some more lyrical examples.
But enough of that, I don’t want to spoil too much for you, and I strongly recommend that you all go out there and have a listen, and if you love it as much as I do, buy it. So, summary: great things are the lyrics, deceptively long, experimental influences and “Zounds” sound-alike, ++++. If I had to criticise, it does have a couple of lesser-grade tracks which are incongruously placed, other than that .a big, fat smiley face from me. When it comes to a rating, a solid four and nothing more.
The Enantiomorphic God