Main man of Athens, Georgia’s of Montreal, Kevin Barnes has long mixed sixties/seventies psychedelics with more current indie lo-fi, for a proficient output that has sometimes meant individual releases have struggled to make their own name. After ‘only’ releasing an EP last year, Rune Husk, of Montreal puts out the full-length White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood, an extended and more produced release.
Having a name with a slash in it might indicate a mash-up of two different records & styles, White/Irrealis actually has songs with their own slashes, extended, but only six of them. This lets of Montreal’s artistry go further and wilder, as does the shift from more lo-fi production to studio output. However, psych is known for overextending itself, indulgent far-out jams, and the pieces on this record do go on a bit. But limiting it to six at least means that the record as a whole doesn’t feel overdone, even if it can come off as one long, psychedelic trip.
Most notable in the journey is when of Montreal shifts to a more dance mix, particularly with “Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia”. Thankfully the album still has Barnes’ trademark gender-bending on songs like that and “Sophie Calle Private Game/Every Person Is a Pussy, Every Pussy a Star!”. But some of the tech and grander moments, like “Plateau Phase/No Careerism No Corruption”, take one away from the compelling Barnes; better is the more relaxed closer, “If You Talk to Symbol/Hostility Voyeur”.
Of Montreal’s psychedelic output has long been a grand art project, rather than simple collection of songs, with outlandish and memorable performances (QRO live review) and records that are usually just categorized as, “The latest of Montreal release.” White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood does feel more notable for the group, though not necessarily better – just another leg of this long, strange trip.