Montag

Phases

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AllMusic Review by

After taking a break from Montag to focus on his work as a composer and sound designer, Antoine Bédard returned to his pop project with a concept nearly as elaborate as the other work he'd been pursuing: during 2012, he aimed to release a single a month for the entire year, complete with a B-side and a video. Phases gathers the project's 12 A-sides in chronological order, and it's not hard to hear the need for a fresh start in January in "New Design"'s briskly optimistic synth pop, or August's late-summer glow in the lovely "Phares." However, given the project's nature, the album is a bit more scattered sounding than a set of songs that were recorded at the same time and sequenced for the best flow: "Trip the Light Fantastic" has a stately grace that would make it an unlikely choice for the second track of almost any other set of songs. More often than not, however, this randomness gives the album a mosaic-like variety in its moods and sounds. Phases spans the charming pop of "MEMORI," a duet featuring Au Revoir Simone's Erika Spring, and the sweetly buzzy "Archipel/Legende" (which feels like a more restrained sequel to "My Best Boy (Electric)" from Bédard's last full-length Montag album, Going Places), to more mysterious tracks like the Krautrock excursion "Sun Fat Explosion" and "There Is a Voice," which recalls the experiments of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop in its electro-psychedelia and also shows off Bédard's skills as a sound designer. These intricate sonics extend to less experimental songs like "True Love," which sets James Bay's vocals to spiraling arpeggios, or the subtly anthemic "New Found Land." Despite, or maybe because of the project's tight deadlines, in some ways Phases is the most interesting of Montag's albums -- the quick turnaround involved in making these songs seems to have developed more aspects of Bédard's music on each track. An album in one of the truest senses of the word, Phases' collection of audio snapshots is also an honest, relatively unvarnished portrait of Montag's creativity.

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