A suitably rumbunctious beast, Unruly Milk‘s Spilaggges combines the eclectic guitar playing of Joe Thompson (also of Hey Colossus and Henry Blacker) with the rippling interventions of Kek (Hacker Farm and Ice Bird Spiral) to make for a neatly under-produced début album. Add in occasional vocals from Elisa Thompson and some unspecified help from Stefano Giaconne and the results are a woozy wander through a West Country psychedelic mindscape — not the sort populated by gnomes, elves and piskies (necessarily), but the kind of subtly mind-expanding music that comes from home-brewed metaphysics and an enthusiastic approach to sound making and manipulation.
This process is neatly demonstrated by the locked-off video for “Ground”, where the camera records the play of light and shadow on mossy tree bark. The passage of time is delayed (expanded, contracted, demoted) as the viewer is drawn further into abstraction and the simple repeated guitar phrase is twisted gracefully and disarmingly.At its best, Spilaggges takes what sound like room-mic’ed instrumentals, where the sound of the guitar strings, other instruments and TV recordings have that unmistakably untreated sound (where sometimes the levels peak into the red and it doesn’t really matter), then subjects them to varying degrees of electronic superimposition, tweaking and general fiddling around with. If this means that the music seems raw, it also doesn’t have to sound unfinished; it’s just that there’s a different aesthetic in play here than that which demands that production should be transparent and overly clean — that ends should be burnished to note-precise perfection. This lends Spilaggges a nicely low-fidelity homespun feel, especially when background chatter and some unhurried whistling lets the likes of “Found Anything Yet, Jake” do its own thing without a care in the world. What Unruly Milk offer up here is a chance to glimpse into their worldview, to follow their thought processes, to seek some kind of empathic union that is only enhanced because the music is so engagingly (and deceptively) naïve. Anyone who has gathered with like-minded musical friends and family to let the ideas and sounds flow freely will probably instantly recognise the hiss and incidental murmurs that unselfconsciouly making music for the pleasure, joy even, of doing so without restriction or with regard to established, comfortable form — and perhaps especially ultimately function.
Which is not to say that Spilaggges is unstructured, messy and especially not unlistenable — it’s actually pretty much the opposite of all of those things, especially the last. What it demands is a lateral approach, one which Unruly Milk have applied to their creation and the listener can only benefit from putting into their appreciation of a record which on occasion achieves an almost transcendental level of otherworldliness.
-Antron S Meister-