Lil Ugly Mane
Volcanic Bird Enemy and the Voiced Concern


4.4
superb

Review

by Rowan5215 STAFF
October 15th, 2021 | 374 replies


Release Date: 10/11/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: are ya winning son

In some ways, following the career of Travis Miller (aka Lil Ugly Mane, bedwetter, Shawn Kemp, many more) can feel like checking in on a struggling friend at heightened, distinct points on the road to... somewhere. From the bluster and exaggerated trappings of MISTA THUG ISOLATION to a peek behind the curtain with "On Doing an Evil Deed Blues", one of the finest hip-hop songs of the decade; then Oblivion Access' bleak admission of "I'm not ok" giving way to the empty, hollowed-out numbness of bedwetter Volume 1. If you trace along my overly linear and simplified line, what followed next (perhaps the unreleased but extant bedwetter Volume 2) should be staring into the abyss itself, no hope or feeling left to speak of.

But life doesn't work in straight lines and neither does Travis Miller. VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN is a departure in every way - the lack of rapping and replacement of hard-hitting beats with surreal psychedelic sampling barely scratches the surface. Miller sings the whole album in a pretty damn capable baritone, and combined with the unsettlingly cheery samples, the overall effect resembles George Clanton hanging out with Wildflower-era Avalanches in the Black Lodge. It's hard to get a grasp on the tone of the album: even without jarring moments like Miller singing "if everything was styrofoam, I wouldn't be alive" over a sickly upbeat sample, VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY... is hard to square with the man who gave us flick your tongue against your teeth and describe the present and disappeared from the music game.

When VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY... nails a big swing, the results are among the best from the LUM moniker or any other. Career high "HEADBOARD" rides an absolutely addictive six-note sample straight to instant classic status, while the post-punky "PORCELAIN SLIGHTLY" remains one of the best singles released this year, equally catchy and shockingly dark, one Scottish accent away from fitting in on the next Twilight Sad release. But the deep cuts are equally intoxicating, including "BENADRYL SUBMARINE"'s mantra-like repetition, "VPN"'s mind-bending melting pot of samples, or the near-Oblivion Access-level bleakness of "DISCARD" fucking up the lovely soundscape set by beat-tape instrumental "BEACH HARNESS". There are misses, more from a failure to stick an ambitious landing than any lack of ideas: "HUMAN FLY" never finds a way to marry its Cronenbergian lyrical metaphor to a satisfying structure, and the too-goofy cowboy strum of "CURSOR" feels more like a throwaway joke than a track that belongs on something this distinctly realised.

The album ends with Miller singing of a "rotting home/rotted home" over ice-cold jabs of electric guitar, but the overall sensation is somehow soothing rather than abjectly upsetting. What to make of a record like this, simultaneously calming and choking, one which sucks all the air out of the room you're in and replaces it with laughing gas? Fuck if I know: the thing's been out for three days, and I'm still discovering little pieces of Oblivion Access and flick your tongue against your teeth... that I've never noticed before. Travis Miller's work has always been infinitely more complex than simple descriptors make it sound, and VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY... is perhaps the apotheosis of this. Warm, haunted, lovely and broken, this album provides you no roadmap to its secrets except the invitation to just fucking listen and find them for yourself. So yeah, why don't we all do that?



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user ratings (178)
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2021


46373 Comments

Album Rating: 4.4

raised the average too fuck yea

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
October 15th 2021


2002 Comments


I've got a spiritual pos en route to your location. Keep an ear to the ground.
Singing? Oh my. This guy's really blazed a path all his own.

Deez
October 15th 2021


8794 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Ive saving this for tommorow I didn't like the last few tracks he put out so we'll see. Reviews dope though.

Digging: NEW GRASS - Scordatura_Perforations

dbizzles
October 15th 2021


14983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Can’t wait- actually, HAVE to wait. But I’m excited.

Digging: Mizmor and Thou - Myopia

Storm In A Teacup
October 15th 2021


39411 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I’m listening now in my bed at midnight and getting really stoned. 2 songs in and this setting feels … appropriate.

JayEnder
October 15th 2021


13983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Travis just doesn't miss. Weird he dropped this under the Lil Ugly Mane name but hey I'll take it. Cool stuff. Even cooler review Rowan :]

Digging: Static Dress - Rouge Carpet Disaster

Storm In A Teacup
October 15th 2021


39411 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Hehe. After 3 songs Benadryl submarine is definitely the best and the worst song so far.

Storm In A Teacup
October 15th 2021


39411 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I’ve made it through hostage master and this 4.5 all of a sudden appeared.

Storm In A Teacup
October 15th 2021


39411 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is really fucking good.

Gyromania
October 15th 2021


34458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Some good songs for sure

tectactoe
October 15th 2021


5562 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

AOTY

Digging: Coconuts - 2

Pikazilla
October 15th 2021


22984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Def a contender

GhandhiLion
October 15th 2021


15278 Comments


woah I missed this

Digging: Myra Melford Extended Ensemble - Even the Sounds Shine

Pikazilla
October 15th 2021


22984 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I missed you

GhandhiLion
October 15th 2021


15278 Comments


: 3

dbizzles
October 15th 2021


14983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I dig the music and tone, there are great lyrics all over this, just not big on his vocals. Headboard still goes, so maybe it’ll grow on me. Could just be that I wanted something else and that’s not LUM’s fault lol, so I’m trying not to be disappointed.

Gyromania
October 15th 2021


34458 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think the problem is that the vocals are stretched a bit too thin on this. The style gets really repetitive really fast. It's also a bit perplexing that this was published under the LUM moniker, it's a completely different genre of music

tectactoe
October 15th 2021


5562 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

musically there are a lot of similarities scattered out over various parts of his Three Sided Tape, though. a few of the tracks even originate from some of the clips and samples on those tapes. it’s obviously much different than MISTA THUG ISOLATION and OBLIVION ACCESS, but then again so was the Three Sided Tape stuff 🤷🏼‍♂️

dbizzles
October 15th 2021


14983 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

When the singles came out under his name, the artwork made me think a full release might actually come out under a different name, maybe Pinhead Barbarians or w/e. That said, at this point and with his body of work having covered so many style, I don't really see the need to put this out under a different name or anything tbh.



Also, by the time this hit Headboard, I was enjoying it more than I had been, so there might be more here for me that I think.

Colton
October 15th 2021


15073 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5 | Sound Off

tec it’s not too late to delete your soundoff



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