Philip Sidener, who plays guitar and vocals for the indie band Koalra, has debuted his self-titled album under the moniker Montecore. Montecore is an experimental album that meshes together post-rock with heavy synth instrumentation. Its four tracks embark on an expansive journey, clocking in at ten minutes each. There’s a distinctive character for each one, and despite the long runtime, it doesn’t feel like dragging on. Proper repetition and subtle dynamic changes are used to keep listeners in a state of constant flow, new elements are slowly added in, just enough to hold your interest and keep you glued.
“Brain Beat” starts off with a drum and bass line that grips you at the edge of your seat. Subtle flourishes and beeps come in at different intervals, keeping you guessing as to what comes next. The first sign of refuge comes in at the six minute mark, where a hopeful guitar theme emerges, creating a dissonance with the lower frequencies. A tug-of-war ensues that climaxes to an ambiguous but satisfying end.
“Hello” is more cheerful and inviting. There’s a playfulness in its production, where a bubbling motif swirls in and out of the mix. Its middle sections are filled with bright and blooming swells. This track took me into a trance and left me staring out of my window, wondering if I could count the rays of sunshine.
“Y.A.S.S.T.M.” starts off as a dark and foreboding track with heavy drums and a brooding rhythm. Different organic sounds are later introduced and bright color slowly seeps into the mix. It slowly elevates the mood, a voyage that starts off on the ground but soars through the air with celestial bells and chimes. By the end, the low end sounds are relinquished and the whole arrangement lifts off into the distance.
The closing track “Dark Void” came straight out of a hip-hop mixtape from space. Tight drums are interlinked with a geometric wailing effect that weaves in and out in different dimensions. This would be the result if Stephen Hawking was moonlighting as a rapper, dissing all other physicists and their theories with every dropped bar.
Montecore is a lesson in simplicity and discipline. It takes its time to weave a statement, but still manages to keep things subtle and fresh. Its methods may be experimental but it still is very listenable. Don’t be put off by the track-to-runtime ratio, this album is so immersive that you’ll lose track of time. Forty minutes will seem like five, and it’ll be a struggle to not press repeat again.
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