By LISA HEFFERNAN
Brent Knopf of Portland trio Menomena named his first solo project Ramona Falls, after a hiking trail he used to follow on Oregon’s Mount Hood. While Knopf wrote and mixed Intuit, he also collaborated with 35 friends (including members of Loch Lomond, Talkdemonic, the Helio Sequence and Dat’r) recording songs on their turf, be it home, church or practice space. The music can be classified as experimental indie rock, but Ramona Falls sounds more like Spiritualized than the big-beat, jazz-rock side of Menomena.
Knopf has an apocalyptic response to love throughout, but more upbeat songs like “Clover” suggest the possibility of choosing “a different story.” And leadoff track “Melectric” has him ready to put the spark back into a relationship, heightened by the crescendo of his piano and thundering drums. On the stormy “I Say Fever,” the sinister electric guitar and loud-quiet-loud keys set the tone for heartbreak. And on wistful standout track, “Russia,” he brings in the strings, adding depth to this precisely paced electro-acoustic gem.
Knopf may have been the one to develop the Deeler computer program for Menomena, but there is nothing robotic about Intuit. The emotion is palpable, whether the arrangements are dark, eerie or airy. Knopf sums up his philosophy on the last track: “Let’s not let up ’til we find the heart of hearts/We’ll know that we’re close when we feel weightlessness start.”