of Montreal – thecontrollersphere
Stream – ‘L’age D’or’
It’s hard to describe of Montreal to the newly initiated. You play them a song, any song and the looks you get say it all. What does it all mean? The cover? The art? The title? Their whole discography? No idea whatsoever. It is a true “take it or leave it” species of band.
Anyways, the band has just released thecontrollersphere, A five song EP with the hook, line and sinker being the recorded version of ‘Black Lion Massacre’, a gloomy stream-of-consciousness from Mr. Barnes, that mixes a catchy disco beat with a lot of noises that include feedback galore and a distorted sound that is kinda like kitchen pans being banged. I have no idea what this song is about (which is a trademark from of Montreal) but it’s an interesting choice for an opener. ‘Flunkt sass vs the root plume’ (!) is the more ambient cut, with Mr. Kevin Barnes getting his David Bowie groove on. It’s a good bridge to the rest of the EP and the easy going atmosphere is juxtaposed with the occasional shriek.
Now, before you start thinking that thecontrollersphere is an exercise in musical navelgazing, it has to be mentioned that there is a semblance of approachable pop here too. ‘Holiday Call’ is a small oasis for the frightened ear, being the most “normal” (term used loosely) song available. It’s pretty catchy and it feels like the flow into the next song is very organic. Only thing is, the completely different music you’re listening to is still the same song. You see, this nefariously approachable song (at first) is an 8:17 minute monster throwing everything at you (including strings). It works quite well, but, as previously mentioned, it appeared to be “normal” and then a deranged Jack-in-the-box (with Tim Curry’s face) popped out and chased you. So, it’s business as usual for of Montreal. Outro is quality too.
The weirdness continues, but again, it’s so darn catchy it’s hard to look away. ‘L’age D’or’ is a healthy dose of psychedelic dance with more stream-of-consciousness delivery for the verses and that lovable falsetto for the chorus. ‘Slave translator’ slightly follows the beat, but slowly but surely goes into some plodding breaks that are a foretelling of the end of thecontrollersphere, which is a book end noise that goes quite well with the beginning of ‘Black Lion Massacre’ (works well if you have the darn thing on repeat). “I’m cutting myself to not feel like dirt” is your only warning before Pandemonium breaks loose. I actually got scared the first time I listened to this song. The dry-cleaning bill is on its way*.
In closing, it’s much more tight than their last two albums, which weren’t bad at all, but this one feels much more focused. Maybe it’s been the touring, maybe it’s that the right pieces fell in the right places for the schizophrenic noisy pop that of Montreal churns out so well. Whatever it was, this is making me a fan again.
*Yes, we’re classy (!). Apologies for the joke, I’m Mexican.
About the author: I’d love to see them with Xiu Xiu. That’d be one heck of a gig.