1 Up

By Benjamin Lehmann

1 Up is the debut mini-album from this Birmingham-based producer, allegedly signed up to Warp after his neighbour (a certain Chris Clark) complained about the bass oosing through the wall. Quite why a native Londoner currently residing in Birmingham refers to himself as Milanese is anybody's guess. He has managed to craft a highly original, anti-nostalgic exposé of the past decade of UK music. The album cover firmly sets the scene, paying homage to early nineties computer gaming where 1 Up means getting an extra life.

Milanese's sound is an incendiary hybrid of art gallery and warehouse (a bit like Momart in many respects). But the approach he takes to grime, ragga, jungle, garage, is not ironic. Billy Hologram is full of grimy dancehall riddims and glitched up acid bass sounds, but there's an attention to detail in the layout of filter sweeps and rhythmic fills that lends the sounds identity. The apocalyptic percussion of Flex is similarly insistent and the tight production and programming make it quite hypnotic, not just aggressive. The rhythms have their basis in familiar musical forms, but they're executed in an unfamiliar way. It's this general sense of unfamiliarity which gives the album an artistic edge. On Lacon, the most fascinating track of the album, the sound world is constantly shifting you from vast lunar-environments to tight metallic spaces in the style of many sound-art installations. The drum patterns move in and out of time constantly altering the track's sense of rhythm, and the overall effect is of total disorientation. Cowboy is a more minimal and upfront breaks piece, but the combination of speak-and-spell vocals with future foghorns are a perfect example of how Milanese has updated the futuristic sounds of the past decade. This is a welcome refrain to the mindless retro of so much modern music, and highly worth a listen.
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