milo has been active for some years now, releasing music both under his own name and his alias, Scallops Hotel – as well as his Nostrum Grocers collaboration with Elucid. His output is consistently high, releasing 2 projects in 2018 alone before the unveiling of his 4th studio album Budding Ornothologists are Weary of Tired Analogies – a reference to the name of one of his earliest songs, from his first project I Wish My Brother Rob Was Here.
The decision to name one’s album after one of the starting points in their career is an interesting one, but in the case of milo (his name is stylistically lowercased) it’s a testament to his growth and project, following his first project, which eulogised his close friend Rob who passed away before its inception.
For those unfamiliar with milo’s work – it’s equal parts philosophical analysis and rapping. The lyrical references and sheer density of the complex ideas he navigates are quite menacing for newer fans, but with repeated listens and a greater understanding of milo’s approach to art, his music becomes extremely rewarding and thought provoking. Fitting into the ‘art-rap’ niche, occupied by greats such as Open Mike Eagle, and Busdriver, milo’s meteoric rise in the indie rap scene was a testament to the level of engagement his fans have with his music.
The album itself is comprised of a very tight 15 songs, none of which outstay their welcome. His instrumentals are textured, born directly from his DIY approach to art – manifested most prevalently in his own label and store, Soulfolks Records. Dusty piano keys and crunchy basslines form the backbone of a number of the songs, well presented in opener ‘Mythbuilding Exercise No.9’, which sees him essentially beating listeners over the head with these rolling and intricate bars, characterising himself as this almost mythical rap figure, justified by his references to the implications of his art.
To pull quotes from this album is difficult, as each line blurs into the next, both conceptually and temporally – stylistically similar to the way MF DOOM used to, and still does scaffold verses on top of each other, with each new line adding a layer of complexity and semantic significance to the one before. This feeling of scaffolding is sonically accentuated by the rising strings or synths in a number of the songs, evoking a feeling of ascension as the chords rise upwards in key before being looped again, like the plucked strings on ‘Tiptoe’ that provide a great element of density to the instrumental, filling empty space with their hum and twang.
‘Mid Answer Trying to Remember what the Question is’ sits as a highlight for the album, with slick flows that change and mould around the lyrics. The title seems to act as a comment on intellectualism, where a question is less so to be answered, but more so an invitation to speak for some. The scatterbrained nature of milo’s lyrics mystifies the central theme for each song, with abstract concepts more so being presented with singular bars, or a selection of lyrics across the album as a whole. Due to this style of conceptual presentation, milo’s albums work as complete projects, as the puzzle pieces required to figure out his contention or idea are scattered throughout the album as opposed to being signposted – much like the writing of an academic paper, where all is drawn together at the conclusion.
Although, easy conclusions do not arise from this album, but this isn’t a drawback or limitation in the slightest. This approach to music is to raise more questions than what is answered, milo intends to leave his fans thinking about his art at a greater level – listening to his numerous messages and deriving individual and subjective meaning from them, a commendable way of interacting with fans.
Overall, this project requires a lot of effort to really pierce into the core of, but that aspect is quite rewarding and allows artist to really connect with the presentation of the art in unique and individual ways. This album is as musically strong as it is conceptually strong, as milo’s technical talents are not neglected to just jam concepts in, there’s a perfect balance which shows that once you take away all the philosopher name-drops, and university professor samples, a great rapper still remains.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
milo’s Budding Ornithologists are Weary of Tired Analogies is available through Soulfolks records on all platforms, including right here on Bandcamp.