Out of the mine field

After witnessing the departure of multi-instrumentalist Brent Knopf, Menomena makes some adjustments.

After witnessing the departure of multi-instrumentalist Brent Knopf, Menomena makes some adjustments.

Courtesy Barsuk Records

After witnessing the departure of multi-instrumentalist Brent Knopf, Menomena makes some adjustments.

Raghav Mehta

Who: Menomena

When: March 4, 8 p.m.

Where: Whole Music Club in Coffman UnionâÄôs basement, 360 Washington Ave. SE.

Cost: $10-$15

Some albums just end up taking more out of a band than others. For indie rock outfit Menomena, their epic 2010 release, âÄúMines,âÄù came at the expense of three tedious years of studio hibernation, a protracted period of inner conflict and the loss of multi-instrumentalist Brent Knopf.

And after a decade of collaboration, PortlandâÄôs indie darlings find themselves in a state of transition. Despite overcoming emotional turmoil and finishing the record, Knopf announced his official departure from Menomena on the bandâÄôs website earlier this year.

 âÄúI donâÄôt think any of us were really happy for a while,âÄù drummer Danny Seim said. âÄúWe really just couldnâÄôt agree on anything. Everything just required so much debate and so much time because we were just being control freaks.âÄù

However âÄúMinesâÄù did more than just leave the trio steeped in drama. It tested all their creative energies and yielded some wonderfully weird results in the process.

It is no surprise the album was recorded during such tumult since there seems to be a black cloud hovering above all the way through. But while âÄúMinesâÄù might be devoid of the airtightpoppiness of âÄúFriend and Foe,âÄù itâÄôs still got plenty of twang and punch for the Menomena faithful.

Angular guitars crunch beside jazzy piano in âÄúBoteâÄù while a clinking xylophone opens up the widescreen wash of âÄúTithe.âÄù But in âÄúTAOSâÄù Knopf sings like heâÄôs on the verge of a mental breakdown amidst a swirl of screeching guitars and hypnotic synths as he sings: âÄúThe hours pass us by as gin sips slowly past our tingling spines, cheeks warm and glowing / IâÄôm a social mess but not yet slurring the words that come to rest upon my luring tongue.âÄù

For years, critics have dubbed Menomena as an experimental group. And itâÄôs an arguably false description because when you boil all the meat off of MenomenaâÄôs music, theyâÄôre really just rock songs. ItâÄôs a label thatâÄôs dogged the band since their debut and one that Seim himself is at odds with.

 âÄúWeâÄôre trying to write the most catchy stuff as possible, stuff with actual hooks in it,âÄù Seim said. âÄúIt is a conscious effort to try and make them listenable and not these abstract works of art.âÄù

Today Menomena tours as a quartet, and itâÄôs a change that Seim and guitarist Justin Harris are slowly adapting to.

âÄúI remember being on stage and suddenly looking over halfway to the center realizing that [Knopf] wasnâÄôt on stage for the first time,âÄù Seims said.

Regardless, Seim said that it was an amicable split and that the group still keeps in touch with Knopf.

After learning of KnopfâÄôs departure, Seim referred to a friend from the Portland area to take his place. Knopf assisted with the transition and helped train in the new drummer

Despite hitting a rough patch, Menomena hasnâÄôt lost any momentum. Seim and Harris have already tossed around ideas for a new album and donâÄôt plan on calling it a day any time soon.