Review Summary: An excellent album, hampered slightly by a disjointed second half.
From what I can tell, Yourcodenameis:milo are a relatively unknown British band: they haven’t exactly had much airplay except for maybe a rare glimpse of one of their videos on MTV2, and the average rock fan probably hasn’t heard of them. Which is a shame, really, as Ignoto is one of the most exciting and refreshing alternative-rock albums in a long time. Released in 2005, following their debut EP, All Roads Lead to Fault, Ignoto received somewhat of a cult following and, two albums later, the band made the decision to go on ‘indefinite hiatus’. Whilst their later albums employed cleaner production and generally adhered to a comparatively generic alt-rock sound, Ignoto is a far more experimental record, with enough interesting ideas and hooks to keep the listener interested throughout.
Ignoto starts off well. Spectacularly well, in fact, as the first six tracks are pretty much flawless. Opener ‘I Am Connecting Flight’ is the shortest track on here, and is fairly indicative of what to expect from the rest of the album. The hectic and raw energy of the opening track continues on the proceeding three songs, which illustrate Yourcodenameis:milo’s ability take a fairly standard riff and derive an intense, at times haunting, song from it, usually due to the bands use of odd time signatures and low-fi production. ‘Schteeve’ represents a change of pace, as the song begins with an incredibly simplistic bass line, a flurry of drums that then segue into a monotonous, three note guitar line which in turn shifts to an absolutely beautiful interlude before culminating in a cacophony of guitars, drums and vocals that echo the sound of the first four tracks. ‘Schteeve’ has a completely different energy and feel to it than the preceding songs and it is a highlight of the album. The slower pace continues on ‘Team Radar’, a song that starts with a gorgeous lead guitar line that repeats itself over a series of muted chords, gradually building up as the vocals are layered on top, culminating in a post-rock styled outro that represents one of the finer points of Ignoto.
Unfortunately the album takes somewhat of a nosedive after ‘Team Radar’, as the second half, for the most part, fails to achieve the heights of the first half. That isn’t to say that the second half is bad, far from it, you are just at times left with the feeling that the track listing could have used a bit more thought, as the first half contains a lot of the albums standout moments. ‘Fivefour’ starts with a fairly uninspiring lead line that continues throughout the first half of the song, the second half returning to familiar territory. The problem is you don’t ever really feel the song goes anywhere nor does anything particularly interesting; it’s a song that could have been on any generic album and there is little that the band do to add their identity to it. Similar problems mar the next track, ‘Yesterday’s Head’, a slow, plodding affair that doesn’t do anything particularly interesting in its four minute running time. ‘Empty Feat’ threatens to continue Ignotos lull but, mercifully, one minute in the song picks up and the pace continues through till the end, with the climax of ‘The General’ being one of the heaviest moments on the record.
One of the reasons Ignoto works so well is thanks to the production. As previously stated, the band isn’t exactly doing anything particularly technical with their instruments: the riffs are deliberately simplistic and the vocals don’t really cover a very broad range. The drums at times seem like they are all over the place but, once again, aren’t going to win any awards. However simplistic the song structures may be, the production allows every element to coalesce perfectly, allowing for little to no breathing room on many of the tracks, resulting in an album that sounds a lot heavier than it may otherwise have been. There is extensive reverb employed throughout the record. In fact, it’s used on pretty much everything and it’s incredibly effective. The vocals, especially, benefit and they soar over the instrumentation, at times eerily haunting and other times achingly beautiful (‘Team Radar’, ‘Audition’). The guitars, too, benefit as whenever a new riff is introduced the previous guitar line briefly echoes in the background, layering the overall sound. Some may take issue with the production, stating that the album sounds a little too under-produced and at times murky. Well, they would be correct, but it is a facet that generally works in Ignotos favour.
Ignoto is an excellent album. It is an album that is generally greater than the sum of its parts. There are enough unique and interesting ideas throughout the album to keep the listener guessing and enough hooks and catchy lines to keep you entertained for the duration. It’s a shame, then, that pacing issues and a couple of dud tracks hamper what is otherwise an excellent aural experience. The album may not be a classic and some may be put off by the production, but for those who can get past that, content yourself with an excellent output by a talented band, who sadly never managed to achieve the same heights as displayed on Ignoto.