of Montreal – thecontrollersphere [EP]

of Montreal – thecontrollersphere [EP]

2.5/5

2011

Kevin Barnes chanted three phrases at the end of 2007’s “Faberge Falls For Shuggie,” two of which—”skeletal lamping” and “false priest”—became the titles of of Montreal’s next two full-length albums. On these albums, Barnes (mostly) performed in the guise of his transgender funk freak alter-ego Georgie Fruit, who seems to revel in all sorts of transgressive behavior and kinky sex, two big topics of discussion in the lyrics. Now, using the third and final phrase from the chant as a title (and perhaps thereby completing the Georgie Fruit trilogy), Barnes releases thecontrollersphere, a bewildering, messy EP that even further warps the cosmic R&B of the band’s recent work. It takes the Georgie Fruit more-is-more approach to its logical conclusion, a dense patchwork of musical textures and styles, never staying in one place for too long. 2008’s Skeletal Lamping was comprised almost entirely of multi-segmented suites, but on thecontrollersphere, it often sounds as if segments are playing simultaneously or smashed together, often to the detriment of the songs.

From the first brutal second of the crushing “Black Lion Massacre,” it seems that Barnes is pushing his music toward a sort of punishing no-wave-inspired rock, something he threatened in interviews in years past. Actually, the track turns out to be a red herring because much of thecontrollersphere simply plays like a convoluted version of of Montreal’s last few albums, albeit with less memorable melodies and many failed experiments. “Flunkt Sass vs the Root Plume,” “L’age D’or” and especially “Slave Translator” all have their moments, but Barnes simply tries too much, stunting their growth, not allowing the songs to get off the ground. The only real standout is the centerpiece, “Holiday Call,” which escalates into a Bollywood-esque dance freak out. Barnes clearly needed to get these ideas out of his system (and it’s good he did it on an EP and not a studio album), but if this is indeed Georgie Fruit’s last stand, it’s for the best—Barnes has pushed his persona as far as it can go.

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Posted on March 5, 2011, in of Montreal. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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