Review: Unruly Milk – Spilaggges

unruly-milk-spilagggesInitially, it doesn’t sound like much. Scraps of sound overlapping. Guitars recorded with cheap and broken equipment. Loops that isolate indistinct and inconsequential fragments of happening: slapdash synthesiser refrains, sterile splinters of electronic percussion, recordings of honking horns and clattering machinery. Layers are thrown on top of eachother to form a junk pile of redundant material, as distortion clogs the gaps with the gunk of stagnation and neglect. For its first few moments, Spilaggges feels like the holding bay for an incinerator – a quick examination of sound deemed undesirable and devoid of practical purpose, captured mere moments before the whole lot is reduced to ash.

Yet Unruly Milk persist. The loops go around again, urging me to examine the waste in ever-greater detail, pressing my face against rusted oddments of blues guitar and the muffled flutter of bird wings. Gradually, the ungainly stop-start of rhythms and wonky harmonic interplay starts to feel meaningful; the awful detuned string on “Journey To The End Of Night” chimes like a bell in the fog, while the strange electronic pulsation that runs through “Endless Unlit Lobbies” starts to emulate the mesmeric flicker of a strobe light. Rhythms that once limped now adopt a swooping, chant-like phrasing. Haphazard configurations of sound – the distorted thumps and bleating drones of “Amabassadeurs”, for example – now feel compelling for how they find alignment despite their jarring differences, quivering with the energy of attraction and repulsion falling in and out of equilibrium.

Spilaggges is a record salvaged from the superfluous and the throwaway. With time, these precarious structures of melody and field recording shed their connotations of uselessness, as Unruly Milk recycle them into new machines which, despite their lurches and lo-fi corrosion, work like an absolute dream. It’s a resourceful album, pieced together with the dogged belief that all the necessary materials are on hand, adamant that there’s no need to hit the shops and splash out on fresh parts. Why sing when a faintly whistled melody works just fine? Why hire a jazz soloist when one can just record a set of abstract woodwind phrases on a mobile phone? Rather than bringing sounds in from the outside, Unruly Milk conquer their challenges by burrowing further inward, scrutinising their existing supplies until determination churns itself into reward.