of Montreal
White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood
Mar 9, 2018

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Two important events occurred during the making of White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood. I became "Simulated Reality" paranoid and I fell in LOVE.

Well a lot more happened during the process of writing and recording, but those are the two big ones. I also reached a healthy point of self-forgiveness for my failed marriage and became deeply educated in the lies of America the Great.

I feel like a switch was recently turned on in my brain and now I'm beginning to see through the lies that have been fed to me my whole life by the masters of media and by those who control and manipulate the narrative of our cultural identity and social order.

My paranoia began during the presidential election cycle and reached a dangerous peak shortly after the inauguration. In the meantime I watched and read countless works of art in a mad effort to be reminded of how many truly brilliant people there are living/struggling among us and to try to maintain a positive outlook. The works of Angela Davis, Noam Chomsky, Chris Kraus, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and the Autobiographies of Malcolm X and Mark E Smith were all great inspirations, to name a few.

Musically, I was very inspired by the extended dance mixes that people used to make for pop singles back in the ‘80s. It's so cool how a lot of the 80's hits had these really intricate and interesting longer versions that wouldn't get played on the radio and could only be heard in the clubs. I used that template with these tracks, I wanted them all to feel like the extended "club edit" of album tracks.

I also decided to abandon the "live band in a room" approach that I had been using on the recent albums and work more on my own or remotely with collaborators. I used the same drum sample packs throughout because I wanted the album to have a rhythmic continuity to it. I wanted the drums to have a strong and consistent identity, similar to how Prince's Linn Electronics LM-1 drum machine played such an important role on his classic albums. Zac Colwell also played a huge role on this album, adding saxophones and synths to most of the songs. I also got a lot of help from long time collaborators, and "of Montreal" touring members, Clayton Rychlik and JoJo Glidewell.

The two title concept came to me when I was thinking about how difficult it is to frame the message of a song with just one title, because so often the songs are about so many different subjects. ‘White Is Relic’ was inspired by James Baldwin’s writings regarding the creation and propagation of a toxic American White identity. I've come to learn how it's just a tool wielded by the 1% to give poor white people a false sense of superiority in an effort to keep the masses placated and numb to how deeply we're all getting fucked by our capitalist rulers. An ‘Irrealis Mood’ is a linguistic indicator that something isn't yet reality but does have the potential to become so.

I'm always searching for new identities so this concept of the death of "Whiteness" appeals to me greatly. Might be the only way to save the world.

-Kevin Barnes, January 2018


  • 1
    Soft Music/Juno Portraits Of The Jovian Sky (5:36)
  • 2
    Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia (7:15)
  • 3
    Writing The Circles/Orgone Tropics (6:15)
  • 4
    Plateau Phase/No Careerism No Corruption (5:19)
  • 5
    Sophie Calle Private Game/Every Person Is A Pussy, Every Pussy Is A Star! (8:09)
  • 6
    If You Talk To Symbol/Hostility Voyeur (8:33)


"One of the most cohesive of Montreal albums since their 2007 masterpiece, Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?"


"of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes seems creatively refreshed as he delivers one of his spaciest, most sonically interesting sets of songs on White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood."

AV Club

"Kevin Barnes and his experimental pop product of a band, of Montreal, have created a dance anthem for ’80s lovers everywhere. Based on extended dance remixes, self-love and a failed marriage, White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood is an album for the people."


Whether that blackout shade is Kevin Barnes’ tortured psyche, America in 2018, or our entire, allegedly simulated universe, everything is briefly, brilliantly illuminated when White Is Relic pulls it back


"These are songs that drive towards a singular vision-mistrust of the framework through which many of us are forced to view our lives and culture and the awakening that this mistrust leads to. Barnes has a once again solid outing under the of Montreal moniker on an album that is as quirky as it is seamless."

Under The Radar

"Kevin Barnes is back to experimenting. But this time around he drapes the weirdness in a layer of danceable grooves."


Kevin Barnes’ latest is a maximalist dance party about our simulated realities.


"The album's intricate electro-funk arrangements find Barnes operating within his wheelhouse, with the twist here being that there are only six tracks, all of them with lengthy runtimes and structures that resemble suites rather than traditional pop songs."


"...catchy dance-rock that lures with flamboyant bass-lines while capturing a dancing-while-anxious Zeitgeist."

All Musc

White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood cranks up his fear of a simulated reality to Philip K. Dickian levels of dread.

Slant Magazine

"This is one of the most cohesive, fun and funky albums that of Montreal have released."

All Things Loud

"White Is Relic/Irrealis Mood assaults the ears with unfettered flamboyance...the production is next-level, and the nuances of Barnes’ writing are revealed with close attention."

Riff Magazine
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  • Paranoiac Intervals/Body Dysmorphia (7:16)
    Jennifer Juniper Stratford
  • Plateau Phase/No Careerism No Corruption (5:21)
    Christina Eleni Schneider and Clayton Rychlik

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