Inside Ray LaMontagne’s Rich New Psychedelic Release, ‘Ouroboros’

first_imgRay LaMontagne’s new album Ouroboros is a sprawling opus that takes a majestic nose dive into psychedelia that is the most enveloping musical experience LaMontagne has put to tape.Rich and heavily textured, songs are given free-reign to explore the expansive psychedelic environment they inhabit. The album represents a distinctive shift in sound from the musician’s early output of blue-eyed, meadow-soul on releases Trouble and Till The Sun Turns Black, though it builds upon his first forray into a more electric sound on 2014’s Supernova. The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach produced the album, who is experiencing his own sonic shift with his new band The Arcs, and his rock and roll stylings definitely influenced the album’s direction. Ouroboros was helmed by LaMontagne’s pal Jim James and his mystical touch molded the aesthetic of the album (To bring Ouroboros on the road, LaMontagne will be backed by the members of My Morning Jacket, minus James).LaMontagne couldn’t have set the tone any better for what Ouroboros is all about than with “Homecoming,” which opens the album with a serene calmness. Centered around contemplative piano, lightly strummed guitar and LaMontagne’s hushed singing, the song hangs in the air like morning mist in the the pre-dawn darkness. It’s eight-minute length gives LaMontagne plenty of space to wallow in the atmospheric melody and lets the song naturally develop into the shining piano outro that cracks through just at the end like the first rays of sunlight bleeding through the trees, signaling a new beginning.This new trail is something the LaMontagne is certainly embracing, which he alludes to in the monstrous “Hey, No Pressure.” “Anything you want your life to be it can be/ Anything you want it to be/ Anything you want to be you can be, hey no pressure,” yearns LaMontagne as the song’s fuzzy, liquid guitar hook weaves in and out. Layers of guitars, keyboards and bass give the groove a heavy, lavalamp flow to it, with a strobe-like guitar solo breaking open the ceiling of the song. “The Changing Man” rests on the back of a gnarled blues lick with heavenly aspirations and immediately segue into “While It Still Beats,” which really just continues the melody as it slowly ascends to another realm on the voices of an angelic choir.Beyond the musical shift in direction on Ouroboros, the craftsmanship on this album is really something to behold. The songs are meticulously built with each instrument and they grow in beauty as each element blooms. Quarantining them into three or four minute compositions would be a disservice to the natural elegance of the songs, like trying to harvest a meadow into flower boxes. It is exemplified in the luscious ending couplet “A Murmuration of Starlings” and “Wouldn’t It Make A Lovely Photograph,” which the former begins as a meditative instrumental lost somewhere in rolling hills of grasses. LaMontagne heartfelt singing takes the reigns on the latter and continues the breezy affair with a gentle soul. The songs lose their impact when they are taken separately and the album’s flow is built upon each song being placed perfectly in context with the songs around it.No one song exists on its own and Ouroboros is best when one takes the time to enjoy it all in one sitting. It is an album in its purest form and the best one LaMontagne has ever made. Find out where to purchase it here.last_img

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