of Montreal – Daughter Of Cloud
Overproduced. Underproduced. Of Montreal have been accused of both by their critics, and their latest release is bound to attract similar consternation and debate amongst those with ears to hear. ‘Daughter of Cloud’ is basically a compilation of rare and previously unreleased oM tracks recorded over the last four or five years. But when band’s reach back into the rarities drawer, it’s usually and preferably after they have offered something more definitive in terms of their sound and identity, the unfinished ideas adding further flavour to an already tasty broth.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve always liked this of Montreal’s willingness to experiment and refusal to be… ahem, pigeonholed. It’s not only important but vital for all artists to have a period of searching, for sound, identity, a voice, what have you. But while it’s probably true that many of the band’s most compelling moments are a direct result of their restless nature, even the most wild and airborne music needs gravity to defy. It’s all very well breaking rules, but ignoring them can become self-indulgent, and ‘Daughter Of Cloud’ strays dangerously close to a toxic mix of contrived and undercooked at times.
Perhaps it’s because this is a compilation of sketches that it feels this way, though, and if you’re looking to wig out over some colourful insanity and have your imagination stoked, then you’re more than likely going to enjoy the EP. Bandleader Kevin Barnes is still a contender when it comes to cross-pollinating genres to make the weird sound wonderful. But if you’re looking for the breakthrough track (that I doubt they’re even seeking despite the pop buzz off the Flaming Lips-esque “Micro University”) or the ‘definitive’ release from of Montreal, you will be left wanting.
Perhaps it would be too obvious to Barnes to stick to what he does best which, arguably, is best in evidence with the tidy acoustic joy of the Jon Brion ‘Remix EP’ and the psychotic, melodic stomps that first gained the band an audience. It’s one thing to push the envelope, but not at the expense of its contents. Niall James Holohan