of Montreal-Skeletal Lamping
Record Label: Polyvinyl
Release Date: October 21, 2008
Skeletal: pertaining to, or like a skeleton; any of various structures forming a framework in an invertebrate. Lamping: A form of hunting in which hunters place floodlights into a woodland by daylight only to later illuminate the area during darkness, in the hope of scaring animals from their hideaways before capturing/shooting/killing. Whoa. Tough crowd. The 2008 ninth studio album by Athens, Georgia based indie darlings of Montreal is a bleakly named danger filled affair. Lead singer Kevin Barnes simply wants to show you his bare glittery bones. The album name although taken from an earlier stream of conscious lyric drive on “Faberge Fails For Shuggle” off previous effort Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?; the album itself is musically very distanced from that career defining album. The real life tragedy is now dropped, some repressed form of traumatic sexualisation is re-awoken and hilarity/clarity/apathy quickly ensues on the musical orgy that is Skeletal Lamping.
“This record is my attempt to bring all of my puzzling, contradicting, disturbing, humorous... fantasies, ruminations and observations to the surface, so that I can better dissect and understand their reason for being in my head” said Kevin Barnes in early 2008. And all of these observations are spread out on the record, in the form of thirty to sixty second musical progressions and jams. The album although 15 songs and one hour long is basically a frantically fractured haze of lumps of songs fitted together in the form of best fit it in here miniature sound-bites. The initial slap in the face you receive is so daunting that a lot of people will just give up straight away. The thoughts of a ketchup and cheese sandwich similarly may be off putting, but you surely must give it a go once? The album itself is very, very rewarding with a bit of concentration. The record is the first of a three part snapshot (False Priest and thecontrollersphere followed) into the mental breakdown of Kevin Barnes then newly created black transvestite alter ego Georgie Fruit who first appears half way through Hissing Fauna’s twelve minutes short “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal”.
Let’s talk instrumentation. The basic guitars, keyboards and drums do all appear, but Barnes also uses strings, bongos, piano, tambourines, trumpets, synthesisers and a bag load of other too hard to place often electronic instrumentation on this record. Although fractured, the music does not sound rushed and that is easily identifiable early on. The tracks themselves contain sex tales [Wicked Wisdom], bleak piano ballads [Touched Something’s Hollow], traumatic relationship advice [Gallery Piece] and a lot of disastrous love [Mingusings]. A summary; Kevin Barnes uses words and screaming to tell the tale of his alter ego's sexual escapades (with a lot of explicit details). Memorable one liner’s that quickly come to mind are: “I’m so sick of sucking the cock of this cruel, cruel city”, “We can do it soft-core if you want, but you should know I take it both ways”, “He had no eyes but he could see using electric rays” , “I want you to be my pleasure puss, I want to know what it’s like to be inside you” etc.. This is a lot of listening to get through in this work but the good news is; this album is fucking fun. It is a step away from real life into something a lot less challenging and a lot more theatrical, and perhaps this record was badly needed in of Montreal’s discography. Sometimes the funk just needs to be brought. Sometimes we all just need to escape; this album, if you give it the chance, will release your inner drag queen.