Montag : Alone, Not Alone
Antoine Bedard isn’t trying to change the world. He’s not attempting to provoke any sort of socio-political discussion. He’s not even trying to change the way you think about music. Rather, he’s playing pretty music with a retro-futuristic vibe that fits in comfortably alongside Stereolab, Broadcast and all things John McEntire. But some people may have a problem with that. It seems that unless you’re creating storybook epics like The Arcade Fire, making prog cool again like The Fiery Furnaces or destroying the dancefloor with fucked-up polit-garage like M.I.A., you’re hardly likely to be given the time of day by listeners with shorter attention spans. And though those artists are all impressive in their own right, Bedard, better known as Montag, isn’t the slightest bit concerned about that.
What Montag is concerned with, however, is making a dreamy, electronic landscape in which melody dances between dated electronics and futuristic textures. There’s something very kitschy about Montag, and there’s something very beautiful and serene as well. Like contemporaries Stereolab, Montag plays a lounge music for a forward-thinking generation. And that generation is in for a treat on his latest, Alone, Not Alone. Cascading, water-like xylophones trickle down over a soothing melody in “Grand Luxe.” Keyboards ebb and flow over throbbing beats and female vocals in “Perfect Vision.” Strange percussive sounds crackle beneath ambient keyboards and acoustic guitar in the soothing ballad “All I See.” And all the while, everything is very gentle and pleasant.
Unsurprisingly, Broadcast’s James Cargill is credited as one of the contributors on Alone, as many of the songs here share a lot in common with the British dream-popsters. Montag shares Broadcast’s keen balance of sophisticated melodies with childlike textures and futuristic electronics with a retro sensibility. Only Montag has a more profoundly electronic sound. While Broadcast seems to emit sound from a faraway heavenly source, Montag prefers warm synth tones like that of Scottish IDM heroes Boards of Canada. And at times, Montag sounds a lot like Boards of Canada with vocals.
Alone, Not Alone has a wealth of wondrous sounds pouring out of it. It’s a bright ray of sunshine in the dark and gloomy landscape of electronic music, and its presence is quite welcome. It’s not going to shatter the conventions of pop music, but it’ll make them seem a lot more tolerable and fun. Montag makes music that you’re more likely to actually listen to than theorize about in alternative weeklies. So close your eyes, relax and allow Montag to soothe you into a gentle state of bliss.
Stereolab – Sound Dust
Broadcast – Haha Sound
Boards of Canada – Music Has the Right to Children
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.