Ramona Falls comes from a childhood memory. Apparently, as a younger man, Brent Knopf (the mastermind behind the project and one third of Menomena) used to take hikes to the majestic falls found in Northern Oregon to which the project’s namesake alludes.
Like the dutiful blogger I am, I google imaged that crap and I do not kid when I say it was a sight to behold. When you look at the falls themselves, you immediately understand why they may have been a source of inspiration for Mr. Knopf. The water falls from the tiered rocks in glittering, translucent white sheets like some sort of angelic curtain, and bright green moss clings to outcroppings of slick black stones. It’s one of those places where you see the picture and you think to yourself, “My God. That cannot be real. Places that beautiful just don’t exist.”
But I guess it has to be real, I mean Brent remembered it… But in general, childhood memories are funny things. I don’t know if it’s just me, but when I try to remember my formative years I’m always struck by the surreality of understanding yourself separate from your current identity. Everything always seems so much brighter and more colorful and amazing, the composites of fragmented recall and stories told by your family. On some level you understand the existence of your memory, but at the same time you can’t help but be struck by the abstract, intangible qualities that charaterize them.
And then amidst all of this, comes Ramona Falls, more immediate than a memory, but still colored with warm nostalgia. The first single off of Ramona Fall’s debut album “Intuit”, Russia, is the epitome of this sound. It starts off rather subdued, with Brent’s ethereal and calming vocals accompanied only by soft acoustic guitar. With the first invocation of the almost chant like chorus of “she said, too little too late” there is a burst synthetic strings, as if the music itself is exhaling before the exertion of the following arrangement. The song builds to mellifluous climax before concluding almost exactly as it began, gently and unobtrotrusively.
I love this song because it creates immediate atmosphere, as if somehow you’ve fallen into an amazing dream or memory of exploration of the east; of Siberia and Komodo Dragons. You’re struck by the nostalgia and beauty of it, and when it’s over you want to experience it again.
This track is, in my humble opinion, the most well produced song I’ve heard all year. The musical arrangements work perfectly with the vocals to create a stunning soundscape the likes of which has not been rivaled yet. Please, download this, turn off the lights and let the beauty of it wash over you. This is one memory you won’t want to forget, I promise.