Montag
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Montag

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"PopMatters"


‘Going Places’ is an album that takes the pressure and chore out of electro, allowing it to simply wash over gently and in time. A treat for all electro fans throughout the world. - Kevin Jagernauth


"XLR8R"

"Like many Carpark artists, Canadian Antoine "Montag" Bédard’s music sounds much grander than his humble indie status might suggest. Going Places is Bédard’s third full-length and it expands upon his previous minimalist aesthetic: bright, pop-infused electronics sparkle, glistening with rich touches of piano keys and symphonic strings. But his talent lies in framing intimate feelings that resonate, nicely evidenced in his simple, stirring refrain from "I Have Sound": "We have no time for life/But we have sound/We have sound." - Janet Tzou


"Dusted Magazine - CD review"

At first Alone, Not Alone emits the same kind of polished sheen as Air. But unlike the French duo’s sugar rush artistry, the careful constructions of Montreal-based Antoine Bédard reveal nourished depth, in music and in sentiment. As Montag, Bédard builds a quiet storm of click’n’cut percussive effects, ringing keyboards, pillow-talk bass, melodramatic vocals and an orchestra’s worth of acoustic instruments. Over 37 minutes, abstract designs, pristine melody and understated rhythmic panache hang together harmoniously.


Bédard compresses this swirl of colors into pop-length songs, all of it so deftly balanced that identifying individual sound sources becomes nearly impossible, like an antique music box dusted off and supped-up for the digital age. On the cinematic “Figures of a New Color,” a lush string theme fights toward the surface while a wash of noise and ragged sonic debris constantly threatening, and sometimes succeeding, to overtake it. On “Angles, Country and Terrain Connu,” chanteuse Amy Millan rides the infectious interlocking groove of clicks, shakers and bass until the song abruptly disintegrates, pauses, then rises Lazarus-style back to buoyant life.


"Grand Luxe" and “Perfect Vision” contain what may be Montag's most unique, and problematic, element. The pieces feature male/female duets that evoke the sung dialogue of movie musicals, both in cadence and lyrics: the former occasionally stiff and speech-like, ("You believe you've seen everything," says Ariel Engle. "What did you say?" answers Bédard. "I wasn't listening."); the latter unabashed in sentimentality, wavers dangerously close to self-help. ("Keep your visions closer. Bring those brighter colors" "Change things for the better.")


Yet in their naiveté, they shine a light on Montag’s intent to crossbreed nostalgia and the horizon, familiarity and experimentation. “Turn dark thoughts into light,” sings Millan on "Perfect Vision." “Put all the pain out of sight / Take me away for awhile.” And take her away Bédard does, washing away any concrete meaning with an ambient collage of rainfall, puddles and bright round organ tones. The two sound sources pull at each other, one identifiable, one abstract. Recognizable instruments appear, electronic colors overtake them and vice versa. Halfway through “Time Difference II” Bédard swaps flutes and a live cymbals/snare beat for a synthesizer and drum machine, then weaves everything back together into a dense, euphonious climax.


Bédard himself sings on “All I See,” his voice low and husky like David Sylvian’s. Much of Alone, Not Alone recalls the way Sylvian mediates pure sound and song structures, never committing to either and somehow finding a third, sublime path. A short piece like “Motif” shows Bédard toying with a melody fragment that begs to be developed. Yet if he did, the piece, and the album, would surrender its ephemeral, tip-of-your-tongue pleasure.

http://www.dustedmagazine.com - Dusted Magazine


"Almost Cool - CD review"

Antoine Bédard has released two albums now under the name of Montag. His first album Are You A Friend? came out a couple years back on the French label Gooom Disques, and in addition to his solo work, Bédard has collaborated with and arranged strings with M83 on their last two full length releases. On Alone, Not Alone, Montag continues down the path of orchestra-touched electronic pop music that pulls together organic instrumentation, vintage synth sounds, string instruments, and vocals into a delightful package.

After a short intro track that sounds like a orchestra tuning up before dissolving into a filtered electronics, the album starts in full with the lovely bell-laced "Grand Luxe," in which a punchy mid-tempo beat mingles with filtered chromatics and male / female vocals that make the track sound like The Postal Service if they went baroque. "Temps Partiel" lingers in another spacey world of filtered chimes and unfortunately never really gets going much of anywhere, but "Perfect Vision" livens things up by moving through several different sections, including one nicely poppy section that features Amy Milan (of Stars, Metric, and Broken Social Scene) on vocals.

Elsewhere, "Time Difference II" sounds like a warmer, more human version of an M83 track as vintage synths buzz along but are accompanied by a pretty flute melody. "Angles, Country & Terrain Connu" brings back Milan again on vocal duties and the pastoral track again shines with soft orchestration that sounds like Spiritualized if they were to melt their elaborate instrumentation into a simple pop track. Comparisons with a certain French electronic duo are probably somewhat apt in places, but Bédard manages to keep himself differentiated through his small orchestrations and somewhat less-focused album structure (which is both a good and a sometimes distracting thing). Overall, though, Alone, Not Alone is another fine entry from this talented young Canadian.

http://www.almostcool.org/mr/867/ - Almost Cool


"'Sup Magazine - CD review"

Montag's central figure is Antoine Bedard, who composed the string arrangements on M83's latest record. As such, one might expect Alone, Not Alone to be an exercise in sound and fury, bombastic strings crashing over majestic synths with relentless pageantry. Not so-just the opposite, in fact: Alone, Not Alone is a piece of elegant digital clockwork, a precisely ticking mechanism of tiny crystals and intricate gears that has more in common with '60s French pop singers like Serge Gainsbourg and Francoise Hardy than it does with M83. I don't mind telling you that it's my bedtime record of the year thus far.

Montag's somnolent sophomore LP works in two modes: some songs evoke the twinkling minimalism of the Album Leaf, others update the aforementioned '60s French pop icons for a modern electronic format and strongly evoke the neon-tinted exclamations of Stars. The entire album falls between these poles, conjuring stylized Francophiles like Cyann & Ben, Air, and Stereolab, and manages, by sampling analog instruments, to sound aloof and warm at once. "Grand Luxe" weaves Bedard's chilly croon and droll lyrics through a trickle of drums and chimes, as Ariel Eagle paints broad strokes with her angelic voice. Stars's Amy Milan cameos on "Perfect Vision" and "Angels, Country & Terrain Connu," sounding lovely as ever over Montag's crisp drum patterns, humming synths, and variegated digital palette. Alone, Not Alone is a polite orgy of carefully planned detail, vivid in a way that's remarkably soothing. All that's missing is a Jacques Brel cover and a flower in its boutonnière.

http://www.supmag.com/checkit/archives/2005/11/montag_alone_no.html - 'Sup Magazine


"Splendidezine - CD review"

Antoine Bedard has created an album of rich electronic textures that evoke both the suffocating sadness of loneliness and the joy of collaboration. On the aptly-titled Alone, Not Alone, several big names from the Canadian music scene help to flesh out his melancholy notions. Thanks to well-spaced appearances by members of Broadcast, Broken Social Scene and Cian Ethrie, Bedard has plenty of time to explore his own loneliness; each encounter with the multiple guest vocalists then feels like an oasis, a respite from Bedard's psyche.

Bedard's compositions are lush and orchestrated, full of ambient blips and throbs. Like mini electronic orchestral epics, each piece takes its time reaching a climax; as each new layer of drone melts into the mix, it becomes clear that it's the journey, not the destination, that matters here.

Instrumental pieces like the backwards-droning "Figures of a New Color" and the fantastically orchestrated "Le Temps D'Observer Les Voies Ouvertes", come across as almost voyeuristically personal. Even without the presence of vocals, Bedard paints a revealing picture of his sad but strangely beautiful world.

On "Grand Luxe" and "Perfect Vision", when we finally hear Bedard's voice in duet with his collaborators, he sounds shy and reserved. You'll detect excitement in the timbre of his voice as it bounces off the warmth of vocalists Amy Millan and Ariel Engles' performances. His own melodies are the simplest you'll hear this year, conveying a child's innocence and all the irrational fears and wonder that accompany childhood. Maybe Bedard's tactic is all a farce, a well planned attempt to fake a mood and an unnameable emotion; if it is, he has succeeded brilliantly. Otherwise, send Montag some nice emails; he's a melancholy fellow, and could do with some cheering up.

http://www.splendidezine.com/review.html?reviewid=1108120638617721 - Splendidezine


"Allmusic Guide"

"Montag’s forays into synth pop are just as appealing, especially the fizzy, busy "Best Boy Electric," a celebration of new love that serves as a welcome reminder that electronic-based music isn’t necessarily cold or distant. "No One Else" continues the romantic, uplifting feel that gives Going Places so much charm: this is music about love that also sounds like it’s in love with making music, and its joy is irresistible." - Heather Phares


"Les Inrocks - CD review (in French)"

Gooom, noble demeure française de M83, Abstrackt Keal Agram ou Cyann & Ben, agitateur de plus en plus remarquable de l’électronique francophone, est cette fois allé chercher sa nouvelle petite merveille, Montag, alias Antoine Bédard, au Canada. Alone, Not Alone, deuxième album du Montréalais, est une exploration de l’intime, une œuvre parfaite pour le soir. Y pénétrer revient à effectuer une petite plongée, tout en douceur et en circonvolutions rondes, dans une profonde rêverie, à se lancer dans une promenade béate dans les paysages ouatés d’une couette hivernale. A parcourir, expérience rare, les songes d’un autre.

L’album est alors une superbe réserve à images, un parfait inspirateur pour les nuits à venir. Montag dote ses vieux claviers et ses machines étranges de conscience, de vie, leur insuffle cette âme qui permet le rêve, la fugue lointaine. Son électronique délicate et acidulée, ses miniatures pop cristallines forment de délicats motifs, précis et découpés comme ceux d’un flocon de neige. Alone, Not Alone rappellera alors parfois les explorations passionnantes de Brian Eno, les trouvailles des Islandais Múm ; l’apparition spectrale de la voix d’Amy Millan évoque les comptines salées de Broadcast ou l’univers coloré de Stereolab.


http://www.lesinrocks.com/DetailCritique.cfm?iditem=166288&idheading2=11
- Les Inrockuptibles


"Going Places review"

On Going Places, Montag's Antoine Bédard collaborates with a bunch of his friends (including M83's Anthony Gonzales, Stars' Amy Millan, and Au Revoir Simone), and ends up making the most confident, dazzling album of his career. Bédard's music has been moving toward poppier sounds and more structured songs since Alone, Not Alone, but even compared to that album, Going Places is a big leap forward. Here, Bédard feels a lot less indebted to his immediate influences. His gift for crafting atmospheres is now in service to gorgeous melodies and arrangements, and even though the concept of a sonic mastermind drafting his pals to sing on his songs feels very close to the approach of, say, Dntel, the results are uniquely Montag. Bédard plays with two major sonic motifs on Going Places: '60s lounge-pop and '80s synth pop. Crucially, though, he doesn't milk either sound for kitsch value; in fact, in Bédard's hands, they sound pretty timeless. "I Have Sound" kicks off the album with an aptly named confection of timpani, acoustic guitar, woodwinds, subtle keyboards, and layer upon layer of Bédard's vocals. The song's widescreen sound and vulnerable lyrics ("I have sound, I have heart") make it a sweetly sophisticated update on the Beach Boys' teenage symphonies. "Mechanical Kids" is even lusher and trippier, blossoming into a psychedelic march with dazzling flutes and synths, while "322 Water" is like an audio mobile, with electronics, choral vocals, and sweeping harps and strings turning and twinkling throughout the song. On songs like "Hands Off, Creature!" and "Plus Grand Que," Bédard's fusion of electronic pop and vintage easy listening is distinct from that of Stereolab or Air (though Going Places is some of the best competition Air have had when it comes to making lush, cinematic music par excellence) -- instead of the detached elegance of those two bands, his music has an earnestness that is especially disarming. Montag's forays into synth pop are just as appealing, especially the fizzy, busy "Best Boy Electric," a celebration of new love that serves as a welcome reminder that electronic-based music isn't necessarily cold or distant. "No One Else" continues the romantic, uplifting feel that gives Going Places so much charm: this is music about love that also sounds like it's in love with making music, and its joy is irresistible. - All Music


"Going Places review"

The first impulse is to let the shimmering exterior of Going Places slowly surround you, to accept it like you would an embrace from an earnestly affectionate and somehow completely unthreatening stranger. It is difficult to resist a record that comes on like the first warm braids of summer sun, thawing out a winter's reserve of sanguinity. On his third album, Montreal's Montag (Antoine Bédard) frames simple melodies in sweeping fields of cathartic sound. He deftly integrates vintage instrumentation within gauzy electronic textures, suggesting the humble grandeur of Stereolab while laying out the particulars of his own sensibility.

Going Places feels like a complete album, an impression enhanced rather than diminished by the many guests who join Bédard. They include Amy Millan (Stars), Anthony Gonzales (M83), Owen Pallett (Final Fantasy) and Beach House's Victoria Legrand, among others. Each fits his or her role perfectly, helping to achieve Bédard's vision for the respective tracks. Gonzales contributes vocals and keys on "I Have Sound," which opens the album ethereally, slowly building from a hymn-like beginning into unabashed jubilance, setting the tone for the rest of the album. "Best Boy Electric", effervescing with cutesy romantic sentiment, is the following track. "Just one word, just one smile can change your world" is representative of the delight it takes in celebrating the sudden joy of finding someone to share your time and experiences with. The track is all upbeat electronic pop, combusting with the irresistible, distempered exuberance of The Postal Service at their most vulnerably optimistic, on "Brand New Colony" for example. But Bédard is more apt to limit the lyrical content, expressing himself in simple statements and letting the music provide the bulk of the atmospherics. It is tempting to divide the songs on Going Places into three types: ecstatic without reservation ("Best Boy Electric"); ecstatic but infused with lingering melancholy ("Going Places"); and somber with undertones of immaculate calm (">(Plus Grand Que)"). The latter, sung in French, is a languorous ballad, growing in layers as it progresses, touching on the sublime thanks to Victoria Legrand's anachronistic harmony vocals. It is notable for its cloistered quality, for being the album's sole chamber-pop tune, yet one that is feather-light and integrated seamlessly.

As a whole, Going Places is a dreamy affair, shifting into different degrees of whimsy with the sudden entrance of a slaphappy drumbeat, sliding off gently into near silences, silences filled by the expectation of more euphoric electro-fuzz. But there are moments where this ubiquitous dreaminess is used to ironic effect. On "Mechanical Kids," Bédard happily extols the joys of embracing a fanatical conformism, singing in a clipped staccato and not for a second inflecting sarcasm. The ridiculously blissed-out "ba-ba-ba-ba" vocals toward the end beautifully illustrate the narcotic effect of "not too much thinking," a line which Millan and Bédard trade off singing until the song concludes in a wash of softly disjointed sound. It is illustrative of the subtle moments of profundity scattered throughout Going Places, both undercutting and emphasizing the over-biding elation of the album.

One is left with conflicting impressions. Going Places seems both ambitious and contented by being a collection of simple, if ornately ornamented, pop-songs. Both are true to some degree, but with subsequent listens things that seemed at first harmless or simply part of the scenery start to stand out as the focal points of certain tracks. And this ability to construct songs open and suggestive enough to allow for a continually changing listening experience is Montag's most remarkable feat.

- Treblezine


Discography

2007 - Going Places (Carpark Records, US)
2005 - Goodbye Fear EP (Rallye Records, JP)
2004 - Alone, not Alone (Gooom Disque, FR & Carpark Records, US)
2003 - Objets Perdus EP (Ai Records, UK)
2002 - Are you a Friend? (Gooom Disques, FR)

Photos

Bio

Montag is Antoine Bédard, a solo French-Canadian musician based in Vancouver, Canada. On his forthcoming album, Going Places (Carpark Records), Montag embraces vivid, confident arrangements, exploding his previously minimalist sound into symphonies of incandescent electronic pop. Keeping his warm signature style of analog synths, layered vocals and detailed acoustic instrumentation, Montag charts new territory, sounding richer and brighter than ever.

Going Places was entirely self-recorded and self-engineered at Montag’s home studio, Micro Ohne Studio 3 in Vancouver. Adding to his solo-project, Montag assembled an all-star line-up of guest artists including long-time collaborators and friends Anthony Gonzales of M83, Amy Millan of Stars, and Québécois hip-hop artist, Ghislain Poirier. Label-mate Victoria Legrand of Beach House and touring partners Au Revoir Simone add vocals, as do Vancouver-based singers Ida Nilsen of Great Aunt Ida and Leah Abramson. One of the record’s most beautiful moments is the duet, Softness, I Forgot Your Name, featuring Polaris-prize winning Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy. Recorded long-distance, the duet features surprising touches of modern opera, and as a man-on-man duet, is a rarity in indiepop music.

On the title track, Going Places, Montag recruits even more collaborators (70 to be exact) from 15 different countries. Wishing to capture new sounds and to charge the song with a real sense of traveling, Montag launched an open call for clips, the online “We Have Sound Cyber-Collaboration Project.” The result is a condensed collage of motion and travel and a sort of thesis statement for the entire album. Going Places is an experience of the love of music, life and movement.

Born in Gaspé, Québec and raised in the icy Kuujuak in Québec’s north and Montréal, Montag is
regarded as one of Canada’s most promising electronic musicians. Montag is celebrated among music aficionados for his sophisticated compositions, mixing analog, electronic and acoustic instruments into rich soundscapes and melodies. He earned international acclaim for 2005’s Alone, Not Alone (Carpark Records/Gooom Disques, France). In an enthusiastic nod to the album’s dip into nostalgia, Pitchfork Media noted, “[Montag’s] droll lyrics and gorgeous, slightly icy melodies expand upon the traditions of the '60s French pop icons while honoring them, as he emotes with precision, restraint, and a sardonic eye.”

Montag has shared bills with indie greats such as Broadcast, Lali Puna, Stars, Feist, Xiu Xiu, The Russian Futurists, Ulrich Schnauss, Ghislain Poirier, Hood and The Organ. He has performed at numerous international music festivals including Pop Montreal, Mutek, Montreal Electronic Groove (Montréal), SXSW (Austin, TX), Canadian Music Week (Toronto) and Sonorama (Guadalajara, Mexico). Recent side-projects include remixes for Canadian friends Stars, Québécois legend Jean-Pierre Ferland and the American indie rock group Snowden; a sound commission by French CBC scoring poetry by author Kim Doré; a music composition part of "The Hearing Eye", and a multi-disciplinary video/sound project for Gallerie Clark in Montréal.

UPCOMING DATES:
• April 22, Vancouver, with Junior Boys
• May 30, Montreal, Going Places album-release
• Summer 2007, Going Places Canada and US tour
• Fall 2007, Going Places Japanese tour

LINKS:
www.montag.ca
www.myspace.com/montagmontag
www.carparkrecords.com