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Make A Rising - Infinite Ellipse and Head With Open Fontanel

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Artist: Make A Rising

Album: Infinite Ellipse and Head With Open Fontanel

Label: High Two

Review date: Apr. 25, 2008

Make A Rising’s Infinite Ellipse and Head with Open Fontanel is an album that indulges in playful proggy avante-gardism with semi-symphonic instrumentation. Sometimes it does so with a harder edge, sometimes without one. The less aggressive elements tend to work to its detriment; rather than getting self-indulgently noodly, Make A Rising tend to get too airy. Their jazz-tinged moments skew in the direction of lounge music, and they sometimes float into regions that, if taken alone, could probably be considered piano-driven "chamber pop.” But amid the conceptual excesses and occasional mushy bits, Infinite Ellipse has a compelling core of Canterbury-inspired progressive psychedelia.

The bending, expansive "Sneffels Yokul" kicks off Infinite Ellipse, merging odd, blissful choral chants with a theatrical gallop that gives the impression of a twisted, cartoonish take on Morricone. "Transmutation" begins with a lighthearted twinkle that slowly gains gravity. The monotonic syllable play of the vocals leads into an off-kilter chorus, then into a blast of guitars (bringing to mind King Crimson’s Lark’s Tongue in Aspic), before finishing out as a majestic mix of schizophrenic moods. "Bradford's Big Boatride" packs just the right amount of violin-charged bombast, alternating between appropriately triumphant wankery and screaming madcap choruses, like an animated take on Peter Gabriel-era Genesis.

But the crashing together of off-kilter moods that drives the best songs on Infinite Ellipse doesn’t extend to tracks like “All One Or None.” The sparse, piano driven track, despite its weirdly phrased vocals, can’t help but feel like a displaced Ben Folds Five song. The album regains some of its mood-warping strength on “Peaceful Paths”; the previous track’s tinkling piano becomes the base for a layer of chunky guitars that give way to a woodland frolic.

An interesting mix of artful prog influences and their mainstream counterparts, Infinite Ellipse is often pleasantly bombastic, if not a little too sugary. Evoking in part both the intricacy of early King Crimson and the nauseating choral stylings of the Polyphonic Spree, the album could at points use more guts. Still, at their best, Infinite Ellipse’s disparate moods compel you to listen through the lulls.

By Matthew A. Stern

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