On picking up the album case for De Montevert's "No Method" you can tell from the heavy shadowing, monochrome and forlorn looking subject in the photo that the group will be going for a moody approach with this release. They do and it does them credit, "No Method" is a debut album of grimy guitar distortions and exploration of emotion recently released on 4th March 2016.
It is not quite their first work as they have previous produced a few audio sketches entitled "Friends & Enemies" that were only released in Scandinavia in 2012. These tracks were generally upbeat, and seemed club-orientated with a pleasant, persistent beat that created a warm feeling of a sound which had elements of "dream pop" to it, "Tonight" here for an example of these cheery psychedelic roots. With their finding of Kalle Johansson and his studio umemusik there came a slight change of direction and a change to their sound too. It seems that they are wanting to get moodier and more sullen now as if the doors to the club have been kicked open and they find themselves walking the streets in the dead of the night with the ambience around.
Much like their earlier work though, it remains atmospheric. The 70's guitar influences are incredibly clear and now rather than skirting around the giddy heights of euphoria. we have an album where the lyrics look towards the themes of love and betrayal, and frames these feelings within a larger range of emotions. For myself this comes across as something more interesting and relevant (as my clubbing days are reasonably far in my past) though with this comes a narrowing of the target audience for the disc. The album is quite self-contained and feels very much of a certain time and place as an incredibly personal work of a life unlike mine that forgoes easy subject matter and marketability and strives more for quality of art and strength of message.
De Montevert accomplishes this with a kind of throaty dream sound; one that is accentuated by hazy guitars and a large presence of distortion. There is just enough psychedelia to assert the chimeric environment but not enough to force you to switch off or not see the relevance of the material. The whole album could be going on inside someone's head, and therefore is relateable to everyone who is in and out of love and driven by emotion, expectation and doubt. What is good about the album is the viewpoint is a slightly different one. It doesn't seem like someone who is 18 or 22, more like a late 20's individual who has has seen some things and possibly endured a few hardships while still not having all the answers.
For example, "Home" is like a musing, a search for security. When you listen to the beginning you hear the guitar notation and chords that you might hear in a old Eastern European folk number, particularly when you first listen to the song. Perhaps it is intentional and the subject the subject is looking for a safe environment; the riff channels a kind of Romani vibe, or at the very least the feeling of searching and travel. It is like the section of a road-trip movie just after it has all gone wrong and a new search for purpose takes place. I like it's hum of pace as it turns, a slower and reflective number.
"Let's Not Run Away Together" is great in that it covers the often neglected perspective in a pairing, that of the person who has reached the conclusion that the other person is not for them rather than the lament of the jilted party, soulmate, partner. The realisation for is the main subject in this track is like the first glimmers of hope that things are falling into place. In contrast to the first track "Forever" it seems more certain, like the conclusion reached after soul searching. The arrangement of sound conveys this certainty with clearer guitar playing in opposition to the murky haze of the opener. It is a more optimistic track with a number of jangles and swirls of samples which serves a great purpose of showing a positive affirmation of freedom, lack of settling with the humdrum "naming of a cat" and instead promoting an understanding of self and the fact that there are other things to see in the world. In this sense it is like the warm sun as it hits the shade. For myself, a strong entry on the album.
The album shows a progression of thought that mirrors that of the central character starting with uncertainty and then moving upward to clarity as the album proceeds. It feels like a snapshot of a young, enquiring mind that we have unfettered access to. This continues and as the tone changes, the singer does a good job at painting these changes in emotional states, decisions and circumstances through her voice. By the time you get to "It's alright I am probably dreaming", the tempo not only picks up but Ellinor's voice also gets lighter and more upbeat. In the final third with the repetition of the dizzying "I don't know if I'm awake" and harmonies it feels like an ecstatic head-rush. As with all rushes, there is the come-down and the final track "Ode to mental stability" is almost a role-reversal as the singer tells the other person, "if you go then you should know that I will come find you". The guitar is stripped back and the track shows a person who is more assured and wise.
In short, it is an interesting disc that is telling a story which many will be interested in and others less so. The album feels like it is trying to convey emotion and goes to great lengths to express this through it's guitar arrangements, the adaptations of Ellinor's voice, and the change of lyrics. It is the kind of disc you might pop in if you were writing a character in your novel or exploring motivations for love. It is not what you would class as "easy listening", but it is
|Hamish Napier: The River||Teddy Thompson & Kelly Jones: Little Windows|
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