Sioux Falls, South Dakota’s Sinkingsteps…Risingeyes were a band that never got their due. Their 2004 EP, Majestic Blue, is one of the best records ever released by one of the best bands almost no one outside of the upper Midwest is ever likely to have heard. Having recently played their last show, it’s likely to stay that way too, and that is a shame.
Attempting to summarize this band’s sound in words is not an easy task. They blended so many different sounds together with little concern for conventional genre boundaries that trying to pin down any specific influences or points of reference can be a challenge. While their work prior to this was much more straight-forward screamo/hardcore, Majestic Blue tones that down a bit in favor of a more piano-driven indie rock sound. If you were to imagine the heavy, progressive sensibilities of Isis mixed with Murder by Death and combined with alternating male and female vocals, you’d be halfway there.
Brandon Dejong’s tortured screams wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a Circle Takes the Square or Pg. 99 record, and are in stark contrast to Erin Toft’s far more delicate and melodic voice. The two work incredibly well together though, and the contrast between them is breathtaking. Their poetic lyricism is also another highlight, painting a picture of a life spent at sea. It’s an odd theme for a band that hailed from a place far from anything you could call an ocean, but it works.
Every song on here has an amazing sense of flow to it, with one track leading seamlessly into the next. It’s the kind of record you can just put in, sit back, and allow to wash over you without skipping from song to song. From the soft keys that open up “Procession of the Dancing Dusk (Part I)" to the drum segue between “Alcor and Mizar” and “Penumbra,” each song on Majestic Blue is extremely well-connected to the one before it. The band was also a seven-piece unit at the time this was recorded, and they made good use of their numbers by incorporating unconventional instrumentation. “Star-Lit Soliloquy” opens up with a lone acoustic guitar before a meandering flute melody creeps in. They continue to add layer after layer of drums, guitars, and pianos until the song sounds absolutely huge.
Majestic Blue is a fine example of how a band can be heavy yet soft, complex yet simplistic, dark yet beautiful. Fans of anything from Isis to Vedera to I Would Set Myself on Fire for You will probably be able to find a lot to like here, and would do well to look into this soon before it gets swept into total obscurity. A hidden gem if ever there was one.