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Inspired by a recent trip to Cambodia, and the juxtaposition of the country's traditional folk music with the blaring Western pop emanating from its clubs and bars, the new Tsutro album—mastered by Dale Becker (Beyonce, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis) and drawing from a diverse collection of sounds including pop, worldbeat, future garage, ambient & downtempo—sounds at first like one band backing a new guest vocalist on each of its 10 songs. But in reality, Montague hasn't even met most of the singers, let alone recorded with them. "With most of the tracks," he explains, "I took a phrase or two from an existing song, then built all new music around it."
Despite the collage-like approach, Montague is hesitant to call any of the songs remixes—which makes perfect sense considering Tsutro's unified arrangements. As much as the album relies on minimalist electronic textures, there's an unquestionably organic connection between the instrumentation and the carefully curated vocal stems.
The song "Angkor" is the mission statement for the whole record—the fusion of Cambodian-folk textures and EDM-influenced American pop music heard while spending time in Asia. After a few moments, hollow barrel drums and what Montague describes as "bowed violin-type instruments" give way to twinkling guitars and the deadpan harmonies of Ohio indie rockers (and Position Music labelmates) the Welshly Arms. As the chorus approaches, the Cambodian folk vibe asserts itself once more, blurring the line between the traditional and the contemporary.
Tsutro is a record that melds the past with the present; the organic with the synthetic. Like the rest of Montague's work as Tsutro, it's a time-traveling, globe-trekking jaunt that's as much about where he's been as where he's going. -Paste Magazine