Of Montreal’s new EP, thecontrollersphere, joins their prior two releases, Skeletal Lamping and False Priest, by deriving its name from the song “Faberge Falls For Shuggie” of the transformational epic Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? Hissing Fauna details of Montreal front man, Kevin Barnes’ deep struggle with depression and estrangement from his wife. Midway through the album, Kevin sheds his personal identity and assumes the alter ego of Georgie Fruit, a transgendered black man who has had multiple sex changes, from man to woman and back to man, and was in a 1970s funk band called Arousal. Georgie was front and center on their next two releases and that trend continues with thecontrollersphere, an EP of cuts from the False Priest sessions.
Since Kevin’s transformation, of Montreal’s sound has become more and more dark as drum machines and synthesizers replace piano and guitar. Thecontrollersphere opens with a crash and throbbing dissonance as a disembodied voice describes a scene of disturbing hedonism, setting the tone for the remaining four songs. Thecontrollersphere’s length, nearly 24 minutes, is buoyed by its excessive middle track. At over eight minutes long, the sprawling “Holiday Call” consists almost entirely of fevered strings building and crescendoing into noise before cutting out entirely and being replaced by a somber piano piece.
Next, we get “L’age D’or,” an dancey sort of song that details a fractured relationship in which both parties destructively use each other for their own sexual desires and treats us to the lovely line, “I know she’s kinda fug / She’s just my party drug.” The final song, “Slave Translator,” is the most reminiscent of older of Montreal and consists of multiple tempo changes and prominently features Kevin’s bird-like voice.
Of Montreal is in a transition period, over the course of ten full-length albums and numerous EPs, their sound has evolved and Georgie has gone head-first in exploring the neuroses and base desires that Kevin never could have. Skeletal Lamping was fresh, False Priest was good, but not great, but with thecontrollersphere, Georgie is starting to wear out his welcome.