Kevin Barnes keeps his creative life moving in one gear: Forward.
2012 marks his 15th year performing under the of Montreal banner, but you won't catch the flamboyant frontman performing any songs recorded before 2004's “satanic Panic in the Attic,” one of his adventurous avant-pop band's most celebrated albums.
“I don't regret any of the creative decisions that I've made, but when I think of of Montreal I don't think about anything in the past,” Barnes said in a recent phone interview from his Athens, Ga., home.
“I'm not that excited or interested about anything in the past. I just want to keep moving forward and thinking about what I'm going to do next.”
The Joyful Noise label has released a special anniversary cassette box set of every album of Montreal has recorded from 1997's “Cherry Peel” to last year's “False Priest,” but Barnes leaves such things to fans who still feel a nostalgic affection for old formats such as audio tape, vinyl and the declining CD.
“I don't really listen to any of it,” he said. “The songs that work well for the live show, I have to go back and listen to the tracks, and a lot of times I'm surprised. Maybe I've forgotten the nuances of the tracks, but it's not really something I spend that much time doing.
“It's more about the creative process, making a thing that I find fulfilling and exciting. But once it's done it's just done. I just wanna keep moving forward.”
His most recent exciting fulfillment is “Paralytic Stalks,” of Montreal's 11th studio album and one of the band's most critically lauded works. It's an instrumentally and melodically rich art-pop epic that's lyrically one of Barnes' darkest, most personal confessionals.
“I think I've definitely made more personal, more intimate records before, and it's kind of definitely in that vein of going through some difficult times and trying to keep my head together, and just sort of relying on music for therapy, or as a way to navigate through the madness.”.
“I think that it's definitely more self-indulgent. I mean, previous albums have been almost cartoony. They've been more danceable and slightly more colorful, and slightly more accessible than this record. It's definitely coming from a much darker place of self-loathing and frustration and confusion, so it's definitely not a party album.”
The complex and fractured instrumental arrangements on songs such as “Dour Percentage” and the sprawling “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission” are heavily influenced by his current interest in avant-garde classical music and '70s prog-rock, with a bit of Curtis Mayfield/Stevie Wonder-inspired funk.
And Barnes, who's essentially a one-man-band in the studio, even enlisted the help of session musicians in the recording of “Paralytic Stalks.”
“There's a couple of moments on the record where I felt like I wanted to hear certain things, certain instruments that I can't play myself,” he explained. “And since most of the instruments on the record I do myself, you kind of hit a wall at some point where, you know, I can play a synth, I can play a guitar, play piano, bass and drums, but I can't play orchestral instruments.
“So I was lucky enough to meet these people that not only played those instruments, like violin and saxophone and flute and cello and things like that, but also in a very imaginative way. And they were able to contribute things that were very unexpected and helped transform the songs in a really cool way.”
But Barnes admits that faithfully recreating the sounds of those songs on the live stage is a whole other matter. Local fans will witness how well the singer and his road musicians pull it off when of Montreal performs Monday night at the Academy of Contemporary Music Performance Lab in Bricktown.
“There are two guys in the band now, Kishi Bashi and Zach Caldwell,” he said. “Kishi was the one who did most of the string arrangements and Zach did most of the brass and woodwind arrangements. So we've definitely got those bases covered. But a lot of the stuff they did was multi-tracked and heavily effected, and there's a lot of trickery. So we do our best to sort of reproduce it, but it's definitely a challenge.”
And what can the ACM@UCO audience expect from of Montreal's always visually outrageous live show this time around?
“It's very different from what we've done in the past,” Barnes said. “We have all these projectable spaces onstage and it's a very intense visual experience. The hope is that it will have a sort of hallucinatory, transportive quality that adds a lot to the experience. The music will be very dense and pretty heavy, and the visuals themselves will be over-the-top and really crazy.”
So in his own inimitable way, Barnes continues to take of Montreal forward, where no band has gone before.
With: Kishi Bashi
When: Doors open 8 p.m. Monday.
Where: ACM@UCO Performance Lab, 323 E Sheridan.
Tickets: $18 at ticketstorm.com. All ages admitted.