Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?

Of Montreal Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
Of Montreal, since their conception in 1997, have tantalised with their theatrical pop creations, coming agonisingly close to making a certifiable masterpiece. 2005’s playful, beat-happy Sunlandic Twins was a legitimate contender and was their most ambitious record to date. That title might now have to be relinquished to the schizophrenic Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? Kevin Barnes, the captain of this ship, has delved deep into his extensive record collection to find inspiration for the most introspective record he’s ever made. Here, he has spliced together familiar psychedelic and electro pop influences while referencing more unlikely funk and disco touchstones. Hissing Fauna isn’t as much an album as it is a series of experiments, and while many of them turn out quite well, cohesion is sacrificed somewhat at the altar of adventure. Yet there’s much to be said about this approach if it yields such brave, stellar tracks as "The Past Is A Grotesque Animal,” a droning, 12-minute psychedelic reflection that eventually crests with throbbing urgency on the dark, Gary Numan-esque synths. Sure to polarise listeners, Hissing Fauna is by no means Of Montreal’s magnum opus, but it’s a good indication that it can’t be far off.

What were you going through as you were recording this album? Vocalist/Guitarist Kevin Barnes: Hissing Fauna is kind of along the lines of [Sunlandic Twins], well at least the first half of it is. On the first half, I wasn’t really thinking about making a record, I was thinking about writing individual songs, using recording as therapy, because I was going through a very difficult emotional time and my life was crumbling all around me.

How so? My relationship with my wife was falling apart. I was going through all this intense anxiety, paranoia and depression and I was just trying to keep my head above water.

Hissing Fauna seems like an exercise in experimentation, not just in style but also structure. Is that something that was central to the songwriting process? Yeah, definitely. Once you get past "The Past Is a Grotesque Animal” there’s a sort of new direction for my songwriting, in terms of experimentation and production techniques. My new recordings are going to be more along those lines. I want to make something that’s a bit more fractured, something that doesn’t fall along the lines of contemporary songwriting but that you can sing along to. Like a song that has six choruses and no verses and you don’t know when it starts or ends. (Polyvinyl)