De Montevert is the work of classically trained cellist and music production student, Ellinor Nilsson. Her self-titled debut album was recorded in collaboration with producer Kalle Johansson.
De Montevert’s debut album has something of a pick and mix approach to the last ten years alternative scene. There’s a number of nods in the direction of the kraut-rock meets country of War On Drugs, whilst opening track Forever buzzes with the same moody-blues as Howling Bells, Home buzzes with the raw echoing guitar picking of Angel Olsen, and Let’s Not Run Away Together sounds exactly what we imagine a collaboration between Real Estate and Allo Darlin’ would sound like. All that and not a cello in sight, which we must admit is a bit of shame.
Whilst Ellinor recorded her album on the outskirts of Umeå in Northern Sweden, she is originally from Evertsberg. Located in the Älvdalen Municipality within Dalarna County, Evertsberg has an impressively tiny 267 inhabitants. It lies in Western Sweden, and can be reached by a combination of bus and train from Stockholm in a mere five and a half hours. Rather remarkably Evertsberg does actually have a famous musical son; famous amongst Swedish folk fans in the 1970’s anyway, his name was, of course, Ekor Anders.
De Montevert’s self-titled debut album is her first release outside of her native Sweden, coming out on No Method. Her earliest releases though can be tracked back to a 2010 single, High On You, which came out on the interestingly named Arctic Nutter Records. 2012 saw her sign to Swedish label No Method and release a series of audio-sketches entitled Friends & Enemies.
The unlikely re-emergence of Kraut-Rock at the style du jour is as welcome as it is surprising. Stepping into the place of slacker-rock and shoegaze, motorik is this years press release buzz word, but few have captured the joy of Neu! and Stereolab quite as convincingly as De Montevert. Recent single, It’s Alright I’m Probably Dreaming, is exactly the song 2016 has been screaming out for, the low steady bass-line and propulsive drums cutting through a wash of synths and guitars, and adding drive to the dreaminess.
It’s perhaps a slight shame that elsewhere on the album the trick isn’t often repeated; Close Encounter starts with a similar feel but throws a Jimi Hendrix-like guitar solo over the top, whilst Hostage and Summer Heat offers a more-laid back take on similar ground. Thankfully, whilst the rest of the album is something of a sonic departure, it does show De Montevert to be able to turn her hand to other styles with some success.
Let’s Not Run Away Together is a twanging indie-pop gem; its upbeat sound at contrast to its lyrics that paint a picture of a picturesque future described by Ellinor’s lover, before she notes, “I realised you are really not my type, and I don’t wanna run away with you”. Closing track Ode To Mental Instability, is like a modern-take on a classic folk song of her own creating; beautiful finger-picked guitar, a voice that creaks with intensity and emotion, and even a touch of jazzy flute, it’s basically rather marvellous.
Best of all is October 11th, highly reminiscent of Sharon Van Etten’s stunning track Love More, it’s a pulsing, atmospheric wonder. Stepping away from the guitar-led tracks elsewhere, it builds on wheezing organs, and the natural clicks and creaks of the studio around the player. Ellinor sings out her regrets with a wistful longing, “I tried to make you notice me, tried to make you understand, I want to be in your life, but you left me here that night”. It’s brooding, beautiful thing, reminiscent even of a more organic-take on Radiohead at their most low-key.
Ellinor has spoken of embracing the errors, and that wabi sabi like approach of finding beauty in imperfection certainly has merit, although it does also at times leave you wondering if maybe one more take might not have gone amiss, the guitar playing on Home is particularly clumsy. There are also moments where the array of ideas can lead to a somewhat inconsistent record, some of the style changes are a little jarring. Overall, however, this is a promising debut that hints at what De Montevert is capable of once she truly finds a style all her own.