I am not that kind of guy that listens to rap music.
Not because I don’t like the music, there are so many good artists out there today that it’s impossible to ignore them: Tyler The Creator, Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino etc etc…but from a critical point of view it’s difficult for me to deeply understand what makes them great. The first wall I have to break is the linguistic one, I am able to read, write and speak English but the speed of rap music and with all that slang is still far from my ability; The second wall is cultural: even reading the lyrics and having all the time to do it without keeping the tempo together with the music, they are so long to read and so dense with quotes, full of names given for granted by authors and audience but not by me, that even the only reading is difficult, figure out the difficulty in understanding at first hearing!
Fortunately, there are artists that stimulate my curiosity beyond the difficulty, sometimes they aren’t from the USA as usual or from my country, but they are from far beyond the expected: from Chile.
I’d like to introduce you to…Milo!
Discovered through the Bandcamp Weekly radio station, maybe for some of you he’s not a new name: His real name is Rory Ferreira, name stage Milo, and he has done something like ten albums or so since 2011. I want to talk about the latest release: “Budding Ornithologists Are Weary Of Tired Analogies”.
Before digging in into the music, the first impact is visual: Except the first album (“I Wish My Brother Was Here”, 2011), all the album covers are made with painting style, the visuals pretty pastel colored. Buddy Ornithologists has a little easter egg in the cover: it’s not painting style, but a picture representing a low point of view on the painter, maybe Milo himself, standing up in the grass with trousers stained in paint, none the less the same colors used for the previous album (“Sovereign Nose Of (Y)our Arrogant Face”, 2018 ), almost like if M. would demonstrate maturity respect the previous music released by him. After you have seen the paintings, now the painter stands in front of you. Before dealing with the album, I’d like to say that I’m still pretty ignorant about many topics and quotes in the song so I won’t talk about every aspect of the songs but, you know, it’s an occasion to re-listen to it many more times in the future.
Now let’s dive in.
Buddy Ornithologists is a trip. All the songs are simple in structure, a line on which all elements are built into it. The sense of rhythm and rhyming of Milo seem plain and simple at first hearing, but it’s a false impression suggested by the structure, M.’s ability is very rare and beautiful, he never gets the ears tired. Arrangements are what Miles Davis could call “Birth Of The Cool”, they are pure finesse, elegant, never exaggerating nor lacking soul.
The album opens with Mythbuilding exercise n.9. I don’t know from where the number comes from, but I can say the opening is really cool. Organ and piano serve the voice of M. who asks the audience: “If you’re not a myth, who’s reality are you?” Who are we if we don’t do anything recognizable? If we are no poets for anyone?
Tiptoe is a Miami-sunset vibing smooth track that “floating, gliding, tipping”, leads us to Nominy, another chilly tune with that sampled, obsessive female voice. Pure Scientific Intelligence (Quantum) is a hallucinated reflection about the fact that “Civilization isn’t really civil and sense is most uncommon”, and warns us to act because “by the time” we “finish theorizing, we’ll be dead in these streets”.
Then there is Failing The Stress Test (iguessillbeeadingthen). This is one of the sickest tracks of the album, double synth making the melodic lines that build the rhythm by themselves together with minimal percussions while there’s a woman…moaning in the background. I intended the song as a personal journey through the experience of life, like an intimate Ulysses (“And when I returned to Ithaca, they couldn’t recognize the b-boy”) that at the end of the trip has sketches on flesh of what he experienced, his “perceptions of death”(“ Rest, bless, sex, hep”) that consist in the stress tests of life.
Mid Answer Trying To Remember What The Question Is is another floaty track with dreamy flute melodies. Maybe M. still doesn’t remember, but for now, the answer is that “You know life’s all about that balancing”.
Where Lowcoup is a fast sick swing, Aubergine Cloak shows M. as a sort of rapping Pierrot Le Fou: just like the character of Jean-Luc Godard’s film, M. always tries to break the fourth wall and talks directly to the heart of the audience.
The ninth track is a single and is called Galahad In Goosedown (Fiat Iustitia Et Pereat Mundus). Behind the Latin quote, there’s a meaning of freedom and a statement of fighting to enjoy life. “If life were a dream of euphoria, we would not have schizophrenia or paranoia”.
The sampled piano in Deposition regarding the green horse for rap is another jazzy example of pure coolness, reminding that if “you’re wack is all your fault”, repeating over and over to clarify the concept, and the coolness continues with Romulan Ale, sounding glasses to keep the melody up. The odd pad in Thinking while eating a handful of almonds reminds us to reflect on our identity: “Doom and glory, and knowing who you are. Did you know that I know who I am?”
Stet is the single which introduced me to the album and the name of M. for the first time. I have instantly fallen in love with the Miles Davis atmosphere that imbues the song. The trumpet crescendo is as simple as it is amazing.
“The Esteemed Saboteur Reggie Baylor Hosts An Evening At The Scallops Hotel” is exactly what it sounds, a recorded discourse about art, reasoning about everything in science and art is made with a line, a line made by infinite points. Becoming an artist is just choosing one of those points and moving from there to find our own journey. It’s a beautiful statement of what democracy in art should be. It’s not egoistic like saying “I made this line, look at it!” but it’s more like “dude, I’ve chosen this point in the line, which one have you chosen?”
And then we come to the last track, Sanssouci Palace (4 years later). Coming at the end of the album, we still don’t feel relieved. Relief is far beyond, cause we have gone far but haven’t understood many things during the journey. I personally understand 10% of what M. has said, just like an on-foot travel through an exotic place that leaves you thousands of impressions but almost nothing in comprehension. We need to elaborate on what we have seen, just like Wordsworth’s poetry.
Milo is a contemporary poet. Difficult but fascinating. There are no better words to describe the poet himself than his ones:
“Whoever you are holding me now in hand
Without one thing all will be useless
I give you fair warning before you attempt me further
I am not what you suppose, but far different
Therefore, release me now
Before troubling yourself further”
Written for you by Music Pills
More things to dive in:
Milo’s Bandcamp page: https://miloraps.bandcamp.com/album/budding-ornithologists-are-weary-of-tired-analogies
My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/musicpills92/
The band I play in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbReAeUPo_c&t=397s