Make a Rising
Rip Through the Hawk Black Night
Progressive music of any merit is going to have some level of absurd grandiosity inherent in its “advancement” of music. How much of this depends on how fully any given prog band embraces its pretense and in which direction they choose to take their music. For well-known, classic rock staples like Yes and Rush, it was decidedly fantasy/sci-fi, where Hobbits and goblins did battle on middle earth, or spacemen traipsed about on planets in distant galaxies. Such a larger than life approach was bound to stall at some point; and when it did, prog rock was left to languish in Guitar magazine, adored by virtuosos and ridiculed by everyone else. Ignoring the style’s gradual rebirth through instrumental post-rock, the past few years have seen bands like The Standard apply the epic scope to traditional indie rock. And while that band’s albums are like baby steps towards revitalizing the genre, Make a Rising’s Rip Through the Hawk Black Night not only restores prog rock’s manna, it also brings it down squarely on the terra firma.
Sounding like it was inspired by circus side shows and garden gnomes, the album plays like a Katamari ball of instrumentation, time signatures and levels of sanity. Stitching together drones, wordless vocals, discordant mashed-key piano lines, lilting guitar lines, sinister funk bass, jaunty synths and gently strummed acoustic could be more than an average band’s entire oeuvre. For Make a Rising, it’s track number 3, “When Moving West.” Two songs later, “Pun Womb” feels like Bernard Herrmann and Burt Bacharach collaborating on a score for a Sergio Leone film. The outro of “I’m Scared of Being Alone” features two minutes of what sounds like equipment being broken down and moved out of the studio. It’s this disregard for form and what some listeners would label as “interest” that makes this album succeed so well. After listening to so many albums where Point A is bland, Point B is worse and the trip from one to the other is as structured as a kindergarten field trip, it’s a joy to listen to a record that transports the listener regionally with a time machine and lets us hop musical eras in a covered wagon caravan. Although technically a 2005 release, it’s the best thing I’ve heard in 2006.
High Two: www.hightwo.com