Friday, January 23, 2009

The Year. 3. The kind of guy who would leave you in a K-hole to go play Halo in the other room.

3. Of Montreal - Skeletal Lamping
Polyvinyl
Word on the street has it that the album format is dead, and that pick ‘n’ mix downloading from mp3 megastores like iTunes and eMusic is the way of the future. Well, even if you’re naïve enough to believe that money will continue to change hands as the generations who have never had to pay for music march resolutely on, you’d have to be pretty deluded or incredibly narcissistic to believe that you’d be able to play God with an album and come out the better for it, telling from 30 second previews which songs are worth having and which are likely to be skipped over anyway. Like, on your iPod.

If you do believe that, though, I doubt you’d have much fun with Skeletal Lamping. Following up what seemed to be a perfect synthesis of the Pop Song and incredibly complex, cerebral structures and lyrics on ‘Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?’ (my erstwhile favourite album, though a late challenger may have emerged), Skeletal Lamping eschews the ultimately superficial shell that is the 2-6 minute song. If you were trying to figure out which songs you’d like from 30 second samples on Skeletal Lamping, you’d literally only be hearing about a quarter of the songs, or ‘sketches’ as they might more properly be called.

The concept, as I grasp it, is as follows: Kevin Barnes comes up with what is known in the trade (maybe) as a “bit”. Normally, this would be hewn through hard labour into something approaching a four-minute song. But on Skeletal Lamping, the bit exists in its own right. It segues into another bit, which could be completely different. This process repeats, and occasionally bits might reappear, or an extended sketch which goes verse-chorus-verse-chorus might show up, but the net result is, at the end of an hour or so, a fairly volatile mass of styles.

Could be terrible. Probably sounds terrible. Some people did think it was terrible, perhaps misguidedly expecting that most sacred of taboos, a repeat of the last record. It’s not terrible though. It is, very basically, a mind map. 50%, say, of Kevin Barnes’ mind is reasonably funky. 20-30% is concentrated in doe-eyed pop, some of which crosses over into the 50% funk. Sometimes he turns into Aladdin Sane for about a minute and a half. Sometimes he’s normal and he sings nostalgic love songs. Sometimes he is fucked up and sings from the perspective of a middle-aged pre-op transvestite named Georgie Fruit, who you may have met in the latter stages of Hissing Fauna.

The pieces of the jigsaw often don’t make sense in isolation. But of course they don’t. Who has ever looked at a single jigsaw piece and exclaimed in recognition of genius? That doesn’t happen. It’s a mind-map. It doesn’t make sense by itself. It makes sense as a whole, though, and probably gives a clearer picture of a particularly interesting person/character/person than any of Of Montreal’s previous efforts did, even though they weren’t half as veiled. At moments there is unbearable tension, such as a pitch-black invocation of the ubiquitous “ladies of the spread” who overlook Georgie’s existence. At other moments, there is reckless, screwy disco abandon that would seem like kids’ TV if you hadn’t heard the half-hour of music that came before.

Cokemachineglow said there weren’t moments of transcendence. I got into an argument about this, and shorn of the weapons of sobriety and reasoned detachment, I did what I always do. I got vaguely hysterical and threw my hands to heaven. There are moments of transcendence. So many. First track, Nonpareil of Favor. Its title is a fucking moment of transcendence in itself. Anyone who uses words that are almost exclusive to Macbeth in the title of a song is permanently invited to my house (familiarity with my sometimes musical project is not expected – but about 75% of the songs have Shakespeare references, mostly to Macbeth). The measuredness of the build-up is transcendent. Kevin/Georgie celebrating a love realised in the first (and only) verse is transcendent. Turning the first corner of the album is transcendent in itself, and the sleaze of the second sketch is, through contrast with the first one, transcendent too.

But let anyone stand in front of me and tell me that the three minute wig-out that follows is not transcendent. It struck me (on a bus, as these things are wont to do) that the wig-out at the end of Nonpareil of Favor is both a representation of chaos in the perceptible universe in general and inside the head of Kevin/Georgie. That somebody can make noise sound like something that specific and that complex is surely a sign of genius?

I realise that this review moreso than probably any of the other album reviews I’ve done here is based totally on a subjective view of the album. But in the end, every review is subjective. This CD, complete with David Barnes’ insanely detailed, analogous-to-the-music fold-out cover art, took over my life for a while. So it commands this place. The only question I have: how do you follow this?

17 comments:

Dan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
undergroundwires said...

50% funk, 20-30% pop, 20-30% frustrating cul-de-sacs. Cartographers shouldn't do their job on acid.

Gardenhead said...

Yikes. I still haven't heard more than 3 tracks of this album. So what is the recent challenger to your fave album?? Eh?? Happyweather Mail Summerhouse perhaps?

In relation to Shakespeare, Karl, I am so glad that there is someone writing like you, who is sensitive in such an unpresuming yet intelligent manner to any sort of literary allusion in music. You wear it lightly.

More power.

Karl said...

Wahhh you shame me to silence, Gardenhead.

What was shaping up to be a semi-academic close-reading of the next album on the list is now going to start with "The lads seem to be going from strength to strength".

Gardenhead said...

the blizzards then?

Anonymous said...

eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
eczema free forever -
email finder -
energy 2 green -
error nuker -
evidence smart -
fat burning furnace -
fat loss 4 idiots -
final sync -
fitness model program -
fit yummy yummy -
flattenyourabs -
forex enterprise -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
home job stop -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
how do i get him back -
hyper vre -
keyword spy pro -
kingdom of pets -
mafia war secrets -
malware bot -
master cleanse secrets -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
maximum paid surveys -
meet your sweet -
mobile tv pro -
musclegainingsecrets -
muscle gaining secrets -
my dish biz -

Anonymous said...

one minute cure -
paid surveys online -
panic away -
pc tv 4 me -
pdf creator -
perfect optimizer -
pick the gender of your baby -
plr wholesaler -
private niche empire -
project quick cash -
public records pro -
pull your ex back -
quick article pro -
quit smoking today -
reality creation secrets -
reg clean -
regi cleanse -
registry easy -
registry fix -
registry winner -
reg sweep -
reg tool -
reverse mobile -
reverse phone detective -
richard mackenzie direct -
rich garbage man -
rocket chinese -
rocket french -
seize cars -
shop until you drop -
six figure yearly 2009 -
sleep tracks -
spyware nuker -

Anonymous said...

spyware stop -
sunshine 4u -
the bad breath report -
the cash1234 system -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the free car -
the lazy marketer -
tonsil stones remedies -
truth about abs -
truth about diets -
turbulence training -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
violin master pro -
warp speed fat loss -
wedding speech 4u -
xp repair pro -
yeast infection no more -
2ip hosting -
10 minute forex wealth builder -
30 minute back links -
500 love making tips -
acid alkaline diet -
advanced defrag -
affiliate jackpot -
anti spyware -
art of approaching -
battery reconditioning -
blogging to the bank -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -

Anonymous said...

carp evolution -
cb bonus domination -
combat the fat -
content website builder -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
cure angular cheilitis -
cure morning sickness -
dirty talking guide -
driver robot -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy launcher -
easy system cleaner -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
error smart -
evidence eraser -
evidence smart -
fatburningfurnace -
fat loss 4 idiots -
fitness model program -
fit yummy yummy -
flattenyourabs -
flatten your abs -
forex trading machine -
forex trading made ez -
get your exgirlfriend back -
google snatch -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
grow taller 4 idiots -
guy gets girl -
hcg recipes -

Anonymous said...

homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
how to break 80 -
hyper vre -
instant domain cash -
i software tv -
jamo rama acoustic -
linden method -
lose the back pain -
magni work -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
musclegainingsecrets -
muscle gaining secrets -
negative calorie diet -
one minute cure -
one week marketing -
only 4 gamers -
paid surveys online -
panic away -
pc on point -
pc tv 4 me -
perfect optimizer -
phone number scan -
pick the gender of your bady -
power 4 home -
profit lance -
public records pro -
quantum mind power -
quit smoking today -
recipe secrets -
reg clean -
regi cleanse -
registry easy -

Anonymous said...

registry winner -
reg sweep -
reverse mobile -
reverse phone detective -
revolutioniz -
richard markenzie direct -
sale hoo -
simple php -
smtp 2 go -
spyware nuker -
surveys 4 checks -
tax liens made easy -
the bad breath report -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the handcrafters companion -
the retired millionaire -
the super mind evolution system -
truth about abs -
truth about diets -
turbulence training -
ultimate content creator -
video piggy -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
viral tweets -
warp speed fat loss -
webstigate -
win clear -
win spy -
worlds best compost -
xp repair pro -
yeast infection no more -

Anonymous said...

your approved -
500 love making tips -
acid alkaline diet -
advanced defrag -
amazing resume creator -
anti spyware -
art of approaching -
Auto Content Cash -
Banner Ad Blueprint -
Copy Paste Systems -
Every Other Day Diet -
Farm Ville Secrets -
Plugin To Green Profits -
Rapid Mass Traffic -
Tinnitus Miracle -
Tweetomatic Profiteer -
Woodworking 4 Home -
24 Hour Internet Business -
Blogging To The Bank -
Burn The Fat -
Earth 4 Energy -
Fap Turbo -
Fat Burning Furnace -
Fat Loss 4 Idiots -
Foex Auto Money -
Hemorrhoid Miracle -
Legit Online Jobs -
Magic Of Making Up -
Magni Work -
Micro Niche Finder -
Plr Article Software -
Pregnancy Miracle -
Software Submitter Pro -
The Affiliate Code -

Anonymous said...

The Diet Solution Program -
Truth About Abs -
Zygor Guides -
av advance -
banish tonsil stones -
bookmarking demon -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -
catch spouse cheating -
cb affiliate blueprints -
combat the fat -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -
cure angular cheilitis -
directory of ezines -
dirty talking guide -
dish tv for pc -
dog training online -
domain sales machine -
driver robot -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy tech videos -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
error killer -
error smart -
evidence eraser -
evidence smart -
fatburningfurnace -
fat burning furnace -
fatloss4idiots -
fat loss 4 idiots -

Anonymous said...

fitnessmodelprogram -
fitness model program -
fit yummy yummy -
flattenyourabs -
flatten your abs -
flat to fab -
forex derivative -
gas 4 free -
get better grades -
golf swing guru -
governmentregistry -
government registry -
heartburn no more -
homemadeenergy -
home made energy -
hyper vre -
i software tv -
legit online jobs -
linden method -
london forex rush -
master word smith -
maternityacupressure -
maternity acupressure -
max pro system -
meet your sweet -
membership gold rush -
minute sites -
musclegainingsecrets -
muscle gaining secrets -
negative calorie diet -
one minute cure -
one week marketing -
pc on point -
pc tv 4 me -

Anonymous said...

perfect optimizer -
php link cloaker -
pick the gender of your baby -
profit lance -
public records pro -
quit smoking today -
recipe secrets -
reg clean -
regi cleanse -
registry easy -
registry winner -
reg sweep -
reverse mobile -
reverse phone detective -
richard mackenzie direct -
rocket piano -
rocket spanish -
satellite tv to pc -
smtp 2 go -
spam bully -
spyware nuker -
the bad breath report -
thedietsolutionprogram -
the diet solution program -
the stop snoring exercise program -
the super mind evolution system -
trading stock indices -
truth about abs -
turbulencetraining -
turbulence training -
twitter annihilation -
twitter rockstar -
twitter traffic machine -
ultimate content creator -

Anonymous said...

ultimate font download -
ultimate wow guide -
video piggy -
vincedelmontefitness -
vince del monte fitness -
warp speed fat loss -
web investigator -
win clear -
win spy -
yeast infection no more -






3d covers -
500 scrapbooking sketches -
acid alkaline diet -
acne free in 3 days -
advanced pc tweaker -
apple patch diet -
art of approaching -
auction inspector -
av advance -
build a nice store -
burnthefat -
burn the fat -
carb rotation diet -
catch spouse cheating -
chikara reiki do -
combat the fat -
conversationalhypnosis -
conversational hypnosis -

Anonymous said...

copy that game -
cure gout now -
dl guard -
dog training online -
driver checker -
driver robot -
drop shipping wholesalers -
earth4energy -
earth 4 energy -
easy backup wizard -
eatstopeat -
eat stop eat -
error fix -
error killer -
error smart -
evidence eraser -
evidence nuker -
ex girlfriend guru -
fatburningfurnace -
fat burning furnace -
fatloss4idiots -
fat loss 4 idiots -
final uninstaller -
fitnessmodelprogram -
fitness model program -
fit yummy yummy -
flattenyourabs -
flatten your abs -
flat to fab -
forex grid bot -
get google ads free -
get paid to draw -
get this off my chest now -
governmentregistry -