of Montreal — White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood ANALYSIS & REVIEW
This drawn out, spacious work is filled with constant experimentation on every level and surely a worthwhile listen for those who don’t wish for their music to make sense or follow any obvious guidelines. That’s certainly an appreciative goal, as true beauty and meaning can often be found deep within immense amounts of manipulation and unexpectedness. I feel sorry for those who feel as though music should be spoon-fed to them. Now, this album really only scratched the surface of reaching a potential immobilizing feeling, and as a whole it’s a rather subdued take on the massive, otherworldly timbral space that was set up.
The overall synthetic slow dance timbre was obviously emphasized as the weightiest, most forefront element of the music. The sound succeeded in delivering interest and purposeful development around every corner, with an emphatic fun and dream-like feel to every musical idea while infusing new synthesizer textures to give a constantly cool, shifting dynamic flow. The unique sounds took turns being the primary vocal support and upheld the overall quirky moods, phasing in and out of involvement levels.
It wasn’t all magical, though, as the actual sound quality of some of the lingering melodic synths ended up being a bit too forceful and shrilly to create an outright pleasing atmosphere. Coupling that with several moments in the music where the texture was perhaps too thin and a rather uninspiring dance beat persisted made this fall from the grace it could have had, and what prompts me to describe it as subdued. No complaints about the album’s final song in that regard, though; that is a beautiful spacious atmosphere with all the right decisions regarding builds, transitions, and sound usages.
This album comes from an obvious intelligent group of musicians, meaning nothing was ridiculously out of place and every kernel had an amount of sense to it. With that said, of Montreal didn’t quite produce the most fruitful of melodic layers here. Yes, the sound was the obvious focus, but in this rather synth-driven uplifting space, the melodies could have been better organized with more direction and rhythmic interest to enhance the structure. They were always present and did well to give a needed foreground layer based on what surrounded it, but the music was a bit too often left with lazy three-note repetitions following a strict, slow rhythm. It was nothing abhorrent, but just a little lackluster overall.
I thought the rather constant pedal tone harmonies ultimately did create a nice grounded feel amidst the hectic sound. They were hit and miss in terms of adding enough life to provide a strong groove or simply lingering on noticeably long without being very supportive. The long-form, nearly through composed organization of the album was both a big positive and negative. The positive was that it was simply cool to experience something so drawn out and unexpected, which made me look forward to every minute of music. The negative was that ideas always passed by too quickly, as the music was constantly moving to new ground, and I wasn’t able to enjoy a major portion of the music in full as much as I’d have liked. It’s a give and take, much like the rest of the work. This is only an album for a certain type of curious mind, and you probably already know who you are.