Album of the year. There. It has been written. Too much hype? Most certainly. But screw it, this record is amazing, a triumph, a sublime schizophrenic sound-self-portrait that tickles and hurts and burns and soothes, all at the same time.

If you haven't already, meet Minneapolis resident Andrew Broder, a.k.a. Fog, a self-taught multi-instrumentalist who, if his recorded output is any indication, is one of those genius/recluse types who collects strange records and makes strange music. A product of both hip-hop and indie-rock culture, he creates songs that deconstruct -- no, make that eviscerate -- both styles. Skating through dense thickets of gentle ambience and delicate guitars, vinyl scratching and broken beats, and desperate vocals with lyrics both mind-bending and heartbreaking ("One day a dump truck will dump two tons of kittens on me"), Ether Teeth is unhinged folk, experimental hip-hop, plaintive torch confessionalism and balmy electronica.

Broder is obviously troubled. You can hear it in his voice when he ekes out such lines as "One day I'll seethe with ether teeth / One day we'll breathe a coelacanth tree / One day history will be but a breeze." His lyrics make about as much sense as his music; they resonate as he says them, then evaporate like, well, fog. It is musical vapors, sounds sublimating -- guitars melting into synths melting into samples melting into epic pianos. All these qualities tie in to what he has said about his chosen moniker, that it correlates to how he feels about his distant childhood, a past he can't quite remember.

Artful yet accessible, Ether Teeth is a rare and wonderful piece of work. Decline its genius at your own risk.

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Garrett Kamps