Millicow - Unlightenment


Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Millicow is an experimental Electronic music project which combines elements from Synthwave, Vaporwave, Psychedelia, and film score like Ambient, just to name a few. A mysterious project in which the musician involved takes a more low-profile, anonymous approach to public image, Millicow has put out seven self-produced releases since 2018 - an impressive feat for anyone who takes their craft seriously and puts every ounce of their passion into their artistic output. Released on December 3, 2020, Unlightenment contains musical motifs and themes which run concurrent with the existential, dreadful theme of the album itself. Inspired by an ever-changing world where nothing is certain and there's still much progress to be made in many facets of life, Unlightenment, interestingly enough, doesn't fall short or appear to be bland - not even in its bleaker moments. Even the more subdued compositions are intriguing and thought-provoking. Opening the album with a dramatic overtone, "Arago Spot" comes across like an introduction to a dystopian Sci-Fi Thriller movie or a video game. Short, yet straight to the point, movies such as Blade Runner and video games such as Halo spring to mind. "Too Far" comes in next with a Hip-Hop influenced beat and a series of saw wave and square wave based synth motifs that bring to mind artists such as Kraftwerk. "Elevator Man" impressively implements an odd-time signature which rotates between 5/4 and 4/4 throughout the track. The grittier nature of the sounds and composition recall the later era of Depeche Mode when they traded in their danceable, New Wave sound for their Alternative Dance/Industrial-Light aesthetic as heard on many of their post-Violator releases. Keeping the momentum flowing, "Psychosis" has a more distinctly modern Vaporwave, Synthwave aesthetic in the underlying beat and structure while maintaining ethereal, cinematic sensibilities. Things take a darker turn around the halfway point of Unlightenment as "Dark Nights of the Soul" bursts in. It begins abruptly with a percussive, jarring rhythm pattern that initially shows no signs of stopping. However, it suddenly takes a more subdued approach as the tempo drops and the arrangement becomes more low-key in timbre, building up on occasion until its bittersweet ending. "Balance" is a minor-key based, Downtempo track backed by a series of choir-like soundscapes with bell-simulated patterns that carry an eerie overtone throughout. Carrying a mysterious vibe while having a good sense of underlying drive during its build-up, it's one of my personal favorites on the album. "Emptiness" brings the sentiment down a few notches, taking a more relaxed, subdued approach. 70's and 80's based Electronic music composers such as Jean-Michel Jarre and Tangerine Dream come to mind, giving the track a distinctively nostalgic feel as if one is on a trip down memory lane. Finally, "Eternity" closes the album on a brighter note. Picking things back up with a Synthwave, Vaporwave beat, and a synth-lead reminiscent of 80's Nintendo games, "Eternity" is an inspiring, uplifting number that brings the listener a sense of wonder, if not a sense of hope, in a day and age where uncertainty may unexpectedly hover like a giant cloud. I highly recommend listening to Unlightenment by Millicow if you enjoy Synth based Electronic music with a vast array of influences that comfortably work well together in one setting. While you're at it, certainly feel free to explore Millicow's other releases to get a wider scope of this remarkably talented recording artist's versatile styles and approaches to music composition.

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