ep review: of montreal, the controllersphere
Before listening to this album, I invite you to judge it. Judge it by that which we are told never to judge anything by, ever: the cover. Because what you see here is what you’re going to get.
I had vaguely heard of of Montreal (no, that’s not a typo – the ‘of’ in the band’s name is all lowercase) before coming across thecontrollersphere (yeah, they like their experimental grammar). I assumed they were some relatively new, below-the-radar indie band. Actually, they’ve been around since 1996 and have released ten LPs to date. And if you were wondering about the band’s name, apparently it was inspired by Barnes’ failed relationship with a woman from Montreal (of Montreal…get it?).
This is a short, sharp and shiny little record, clocking in at just under twenty-four minutes. On the one hand it could be said that a few extra songs would add some coherence to the album – I’d be tempted to say that thecontrollersphere is all but post-modern in its lack of discernable meaning. (But of course I wouldn’t say that. True meaning belongs only to the individual. One plus one doesn’t have to equal two and all that) Still, the other hand must be mentioned, and held in it is a big, colourful banner that proclaims: every one, frenetic, minute of thecontrollersphere is worth double the time you have ever spent listening to [insert latest pop sensation here] et al.
If you don’t dig the first song – and I can understand to some ears it may be somewhat repulsive, even borderline offensive – I urge you not to give up on the album as a whole. The only thing the five songs here really seem to have in common is that they are all equally different in style – though I will say that they become markedly more upbeat as the album progresses.
From the urgent barrage of sound that is the first track, ‘Black Lion Massacre’, we move on to ‘Flunkt Sass vs the Root Plume’, which is half mournful, half desperate, part cosmic trip, part paranoid rant. Next we have ‘Holiday Call’, which begins with the line: “Is that you, my lord? / Hands on my knee, my lord”, followed by ‘L’age d’Or’, which strongly exudes a Scissor Sisters-esque aroma. The final song? I’ll leave you to find out – though the album provides more than enough surprises without my help.
This album will, in all likelihood, leave you wondering what just hit you (truck? sound explosion? lead singer Kevin Barnes’ wild melancholic- and/or joy-induced inner monologue materialised into pellet-like sound bytes?). Some might say that it’s just an excess of noise. To that I would have to agree. And what freakin’ amazing noise it is.