Asking too many questions never got anyone any answers. Beyond the dull what is the meaning of life and why god why asking questions to yourself whilst sitting alone in a room is more a kind of mental masturbation leading to nowhere. Might as well put some music on that snazzy Bose Digital SoundDock on your desk and ask yourself why it doesn’t sound like vinyl. Which merely begs yet another question: what to play?
If for no other reason that you should be dancing as much as your still young legs can, but you kinda want to rock some funky dance-punk in your skinny jeans, then the latest of Montreal release Daughter of Cloud is exactly what the existential doctor prescribed. 17 tracks of rarities ranging from the days of 2007 yore circa the epic Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? through to 2010’s False Priest, the album is in realty two—the first nine tracks one of unreleased material and the subsequent eight a compilation of tracks previously released on hard-to-find 7”s. Thematically and stylistically as disparate and off-the-wall as rarities albums are, there is a cohesive element to Kevin Barnes iconoclastic meanderings. Simultaneously serious and jovial, an earnest self-consciousness pervades every note, be it tongue-in-cheek electro-funk, pretty twee-pop, or glib dance-punk. Even if it doesn’t make your foot tap and head bob, the lyrics on “Sails, Hermaphroditic” (If I could Dr. Frankenstein (Dr. Funkenstein) the world (if I could change your mind) / Start this bitch anew / I would change the shit out of you) are enough to make you laugh at the world, and your useless self-conscious stall tactics.
New Music – of Montreal & Harouki-Zombie
Rather than arranging the songs chronologically, Barnes sequenced the tracks to take you through a whirlwind of images slap-painted with raucous fury and tinged with fragile emotion. Beginning with genre-mashing up-tempo beats and guitars the 56-minute album eventually dissolves into softer shades and straightforward songs, yet still features the trademark of Montreal cadence-switching sensibility. Even their most accessible single, “Tender Fax” has moments of irreverence, as if it just can’t stand to be three full minutes of radio candy. On the penultimate track, “Noir Blues to Tinnitus” Barnes explores the idea of sound within the human ear without a corresponding external sound, i.e. imagined sound or better put, the noises / voices in our head. It might be a confusing, glam-rocky and hallucinatory place, but listening to the sounds play out from Kevin Barnes’ head is always new and exciting.
Much like Harouki-Zombie’s debut EP Objet Petit A, the new project from Orenda Fink (of Saddle Creek’s Azure Ray) and Nina Barnes (of Montreal’s chief album artist). The title track is an immediately infectious beat-driven female whisper-fest that elicits images of dark subterranean European clubs where effortlessly stylish singles dance unselfconsciously in stroby lights. “Soldier’s Gun” continues in this vein while stepping up the tempo and heavy breathing in sexy foreign tongues. Polyviynl Records simultaneous release of Daughter of Cloud and Objet Petit A is no coincidence. There is much crossover. Firstly, Nina Barnes is Kevin Barnes partner in art, music and marriage. Secondly, the male Barnes has penned and lent his production skills on the stylistically similar yet more light-hearted third track, “Vacated Hunters”. The final track “Swamp Theme” is a dancy, trip-hop ode to zombie swagger in double-time. In the era of the portable, the EP would not be complete without not one, but two dark and house-y “Objet Petit A” remixes (digital only).
Daughter of Cloud is available on CD, 2xLP (cyan or black vinyl), cassette (purple tape), and digital formats. Objet Petit A is also available as limited edition hand-numbered purple 2×7″ + MP3. Better not to ask why, just find an online garage sale, buy a vintage turntable and follow the link to the vinyl. It comes with the MP3, so you can still maintain your minimalism.