February 10, 2005

Montag "Alone, Not Alone"

On first listen to Montag's second album, Alone, Not Alone, it would be easy to get confused. You might think you were listening to a Stereolab/Broadcast collaboration. You might think it was released in 1998. You might think that this band consisted of several Nico-loving people who are inspired by that 'space age bachelor pad music' fad that was popular ten years ago. You might also think that this music was the soundtrack to a lusty, erotic French art film.

You'd be wrong on all counts, of course. Montag is the vision of one man from Montreal, Antoine Bedard, and though it sounds like a soundtrack to something sexy, it's merely a collection of mellow, electronic-minded jazz songs. No members of Stereolab were used in the making of this record, though guest vocalists Ariel Engle and Amy Millan's singing styles are clearly indebted to both bands and James Cargill is one of the masterminds behind Broadcast. You could easily be fooled that Montag is something it's not, but there's a fine line between imitation and inspiration, and Bedard straddles it quite boldly.

A word of warning is needed, though; Alone, Not Alone is an excellent example of a record not being as great as the sum of its parts. Taken individually, the songs don't make a lot of sense; they come across as meandering, indulgent little experimental pieces that are nice enough but really aren't very substantial. Sure, songs like "Grand Luxe" or "Angels, Country & Terrain Connu" can stand on their own, but the rest of the record sounds does not, simply because the record doesn't seem to be designed that way. Alone, Not Alone feels like one long song, and as each song flows seamlessly into the next, taking it apart weakens it.

That doesn't mean Alone, Not Alone isn't a good record -- far from it. It's a gorgeous, relaxing labor of love, a soothing balm for hard, stressful days and the soundtrack to gorgeous, erotic nights. Never too light and never heavliy sexy, Alone, Not Alone is a wonderful record to listen to for those moments when you are alone. Or not alone.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.montag.ca
Label Website: http://www.carparkrecords.com

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