This intriguing-sounding album is in fact this French bass and drum noise duo’s first, but having been around for seven years they have been honing their ideas, touring and releasing a trio of EPs.
I don’t know at what point this band started but what is clear from “Atlas” is that the duo are good at creating soundscapes, and furthermore are not frightened to adopt unusual patterns. Don’t expect straight lines. That said, the journey is fluid and by the time we get to the third instrumental track “Voda”, it’s pumping and exciting. I appreciated the contrast of this, the bizarre distortions and scrunchiness of “Athome” and the earlier industrial suggestions. This is a dark, and to use the word of the band’s accompanying publicity, “deconstructed” world. One criticism I do have is that the sound quality is not sharp enough. I cranked up the volume but whilst crashing walls are not at the centre as there’s a deliberate maelstrom of murkiness in there, I found parts of this work to be anaemic. And then there’s the opposite. “Kamet” for example is an irregular and cacophonous series of industrial-type attacks. Perhaps I’m looking at it the wrong way and should expect a severe electric shock rather than a tonne of bricks to descend violently on me. It’s no less pleasant. “Styx” then takes us into an introspective Cult of Luna post metal sludge type territory. Waves reverberate through the solemn beat before the pace picks up but not jauntily. Rather the sensation is of menace and not so good intent. This is then followed by an almost nightmarish one minute piece of noise called “Atoms”. By way of contrast again, “Coma Cluster” delivers the second exciting and vibrant passage of the album after the one on “Voda”. Here the song marches on creatively and colourfully, reminding me a little in its drive of The Algorithm. A slow, sludgy, out there world returns with “Memoires”. Sadness and melancholy now dominate the scene. Nothing much seemed to be happening but eventually it bursts out of its shell with a dismal crescendo and for the first time recognition of human form in the guise of tortured screams. It all ends with more apocalyptic screams amid funeral tones.
Reading the sleeve notes and the lyrics of the last two tracks, Milkilo place great emphasis on weights and burdens. This image certainly comes across. In fact there are many images in this extremely mixed bag of a work. I’m not sure that the looseness of continuity did “Atlas” any favours but I do recognise that it is experimental and it’s certainly intriguing.
(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)