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Sex on Wheels

Of Montreal overreaches on the gratuitous Skeletal Lamping

"I don't make the division between physical reality or intellectual reality or fantasy or dream reality," Barnes says. "Just because you held a brick in your hand and threw it through a window, doesn't mean it doesn't have the same value as dreaming you held a brick in your hand and throwing it through the window. Everything I'm writing about, I might not have physically experienced it — but I did experience it."

Barnes says his bandmates have been essential to translating the album's hypersexuality and out-there imagery into a dynamic live act. And thus far, sneak previews of the Skeletal Lamping tour have looked like a three-ring circus on acid.

A recent New York show featured a nearly naked Barnes riding a live horse onto the stage at one point and emerging from a coffin slathered in shaving cream at another. Band members were dressed like cowboys, tigers and the mythical creature Pan.

Couch Surfing: Of Montreal catches some air.
Leo Stefansson
Couch Surfing: Of Montreal catches some air.

Barnes, Of Montreal and their peers in Athens's famed Elephant 6 Recording Company have always experimented in the hope of stretching the boundaries of contemporary music. For a time Barnes even lived with Jeff Mangum, the singer-songwriter behind Neutral Milk Hotel.

But while Mangum was able to craft the brilliant album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea from a series of recurring dreams he had about Anne Frank, when Barnes attempts to channel his own strange inner voice and shed any pop-music trappings, the result isn't as transcendent.

"You just create what you feel compelled to create," Barnes says. "It's more fulfilling that way. I've never tried to create for an audience or demographic because that would just be...well...­really weird."

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