Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Milo - So The Flies Don't Come Review

It may be unintended but Milo’s surge in the underground Hip-Hop scene as Busdriver reincarnated may give the final legs abstract Art Rap has left a few more healthy years. In fact, all of the new breed Hellfyre Club members, namely Open Mike Eagle, have continued the traditions and styles carried out by Busdriver over a decade ago, making him, essentially, one of underground Hip-Hop’s more influential figures. This may be why Milo, on his latest LP, So The Flies Don’t Come, dedicated the closing track to him, not just in passing but in full-on oozing over his favorite emcee. It may have been a coincidental passing of the torch but Busdriver’s surprisingly good 2014 release Perfect Hair spilt out to listeners just two weeks before Milo’s debut album A Toothpaste Suburb, an album that may later be regarded as his official stamp on the game. And now, with a hot streak in Hip-Hop that spans multiple pseudonyms, Milo is back with a collection of ten solid tracks that sees him continuing his eccentric lyrical approach while expanding a production range that allows for comfort, enjoyability, and, most important for much of Art Rap’s forced complications, accessibility.

Amongst other, more absurdly esoteric topics, Hellfyre Club’s music seems to wrap itself around, well, itself. Like a close-knit group of friends, the emcee’s on the independent record label all jump on each other’s tracks, cracking inside jokes, detailing odd encounters, and talking about themselves in relation to the others. Normally this impenetrable kinship would push away listeners with an exclusive label attached to their stories, but in cases like Milo they’re more intriguing. His blabbering about his boxing matches in Albany Park, scribbled writings on Mike Eagle’s helipad, and a who’s who of who lets their souls fly endears rather than off-puts, adding to the allure of scouring his mostly kooky one-liners. Speaking conceptually though, while A Toothpaste Suburb, rightfully so being his debut, showed strong traces of his place amongst society and how he got there, So The Flies Don’t Come eschew’s any such lamentable, merely residing as a collection of tracks to further stifle his absurdist genes that focus on his latest remembrance of his fanciful past. This is but just a small hindrance, as the overall quality of the tracks outshine many spots on the sometimes over-crowded A Toothpaste Suburb

One of the most immediately noticeable improvements Milo offers here is that of his flow, which, at times, excels in ways he's failed to show before. The quick-mouthed opener 'Rabblerouse' begins in almost parodying fashion with Milo uttering that "they couldn't predicate upon a precipice," a flow he later goes on to use multiple times. What's more evident here though is an ease that wasn't apparent in previous efforts as he often forced words, syllables, and phrases together discounting for the structured beat behind him. On 'Rabblerouse' Milo flows with grace, spitting a slack-jawed flow that fits the monotonous beat to near perfection. Elsewhere he does the same, like on 'Souvenir,' where a chill beat glides by on scratched acoustic guitars and periodic kazoo's, allowing Milo to take advantage of the extra space between the drums. And on 'Napping Under The Echo Tree,' a slow moving drawl emphasizing patience over a lulling bass, hushed synths, and a throaty vocal sample, Milo effectively takes the form of a spoken word poet. Every track on So The Flies Don't Come sees Milo mimicking his surroundings to great effect. Whereas A Toothpaste Suburb featured dense beats of synth-based origin, his latest sees variety, sporting a more organic edge.

Speaking of the production, while it doesn't necessarily see an improvement from Milo's previous efforts, it shows expansion and that's always appreciated. This is best evident on clear standout 'Re: Amimist,’ which may be Milo’s most aggressive song yet. In it he snarls with a vengeance, turning and twisting his words, changing the pitch on command, all over a woozy beat highly reminiscent of Boards Of Canada, of all artists. And while much of the LP doesn’t follow this same style, the rest, produced entirely by Kenny Segal, sounds melodic, synthetic, and fitting. ‘Yomilo’ introduces a virtual 1-2 dance step, while others, like ‘Going No Place’ slow things down for more expressionistic performances, which make up the bulk of this tape. Even some of the features account for Milo’s serious, personal tone throughout. Hemlock Ernst on ‘Souvenir’ provides a long-winded verse that reflects on his childhood, relational encounters, and first taste of money, while Elucid provides his gritty, in-the-moment New York style on ‘Going No Place.’ Neither of these compare to Milo’s slight of hand racial tension he often slides into these tracks, best seen on ‘An Encyclopedia’ where he talks of police brutality and the weight he feels he carries during it. 

So The Flies Don’t Come showcases Milo in a variety of ways. And while it hardly wows in such ways as his debut, it does show a consistency that wasn’t previously there, all the while opening up to newer, more modern techniques of music. Art Rap, as it has been known, tended to exclude those not fully engulfed in their tense, nonsensical verbiage. In less obvious ways, Milo aims to be taking the same path as Run The Jewels members El-P and Killer Mike who both realized the downfall of Political Hip-Hop wasn’t due to the nature of the content, but the enjoyability of the music overall, something they alleviated in their LP’s. There’s times when Milo’s latest gets borderline catchy, with a litany of easily-mimickable lines running the gamut here. “Dap-dunlop-don’t why-I-oughtta, I’m the fly dun-dada, I’m the fly dun-dada” will forever be engrained in my head, the same goes for the hook on ‘Song About A Raygunn.’ It’s this attempted welcoming that makes So The Flies Don’t Come a great underground record, one that aims to please both old heads and new-comers alike, largely succeeding with Milo’s insistence on staying weird.


  1. Truly amazing review and that is exactly how i felt about this album as well, i just cant put it in such wonderful words as yours.Milo is more at ease on this release and is not trying to force syllabes or sound overly complicated.His music is much more improved and welcoming this time around more than on Toothpaste Surburb.

    I wonder where you have been all along , only saw your review on RYM and decided to give you a chance.I have read your MED, Blu review , this Milo one and the Freddie Gibbs one you recently did and all your reviews are 100% on point, i love the way you write and express yourself, you are not biased and have a good ear when it comes to Muzik , i urge you to keep it up!!

    1. Thanks for all the kind words! It's awesome to hear people enjoying my writing, and always reassuring to know some of my opinions are on point haha. Thanks for checking them all out too by the way, really appreciate it!

      I'm sure to keep up, I don't mind having a large following or not, I just do it as a hobby and give it out to people if they enjoy reading it!