Review: Wilson Miles (@wilsonmilesmuzk) ‘Where There’s Smoke’

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Pho­to­graphy by Vanes­sa Threadgold (qveenmanagement.com)

Wilson Miles’ EP, ‘Where There’s Smoke’, is a con­tinu­ous 20 minute exper­i­ment­al piece that presents snip­pets of the duo’s impress­ive skills. As soon as you really get into a track, it’s already transitioned into another. But this is no bad thing. It’s an effect­ive tech­nique that adds an enig­mat­ic feel to the songs. First you hear fuzzi­ness and strange sounds AS IF someone is search­ing through a radio for clear sta­tions. Then from nowhere, rap­per Tony Wilson’s south­ern voice rises from the murk­i­ness.

But whil­st Tony talks about deep con­cepts, he doesn’t play cent­ral char­ac­ter in the mix­tape. Both he and pro­du­cer Hec­tor Miles share the lime­light. The beats are often left to run at times, sound­ing sat­is­fy­ingly choppy with unortho­dox drums pat­terns. On top of them, Hec­tor inputs vocal samples that sound like they are ripped from old doc­u­ment­ar­ies. If you strain your ears you might be able to make out the vocals say­ing phrases like ‘fall­ing upright’ or ‘the com­plete faith in noth­ing’.

Although the pro­duc­tion can sound very uncon­ven­tion­al, the over­all pro­ject still seems tethered to the essence of hip-hop. For example, in one track we hear the intro­duc­tion of a jazz trum­pet that would soun­ded suited on an old boom-bap song. But instead it hov­ers over an innov­at­ive bass­line that reminds us of an engine start­ing. ‘All these prob­lems run­ning through my brain, I can’t wait to shine so they feel my reign’, Tony says on that self-reflect­ive, med­it­at­ive tip that we are used to.

Togeth­er the duo move through dif­fer­ent inter­pret­a­tions and re-inven­tions of famil­i­ar vibes. So dif­fer­ent are the ener­gies between dif­fer­ent songs that it’s hard to put a fin­ger on what the over­all mes­sage might be. In the next track, for instance we hear some­thing that reminds us of a Big-Boi or Good­ie Mob song with Tony rap­ping quickly and stretch­ing out his words in that south­ern gang­sta style. It wakes us up from the pre­vi­ous intro­spect­ive mode to tell us ‘There’s a war going on out­side, look around, look around’. An eer­ie plu­gin sound comes in every couple of bars, chilling enough to make your hair stand up. Then almost from nowhere we hear it change to a sample that sounds like an intro to an 80’s cop show.
In one standout hype track you can ima­gine Tony driv­ing a car in the South yelling to any­one who will hear him. He says, ‘We don’t need no repar­a­tions, run up in your favour­ite bank and waste them!’ Then in another place, ‘Peace to my black nation, I’m the god!’.

The mix­tape ends well with Tony giv­ing a final bar­rage of lyr­ics that one might find dif­fi­cult to under­stand if one is new to the South­ern slang. A high-pitched whistle melody plays at the end, the mix­tape leav­ing us a on a level of play­ful child­ish­ness.

You can tell that the duo had fun cre­at­ing the work. They have feed off each other’s energy. The com­bin­a­tion of Hec­tors unique Brit­ish inter­pret­a­tion of Hip-Hop and Tony’s com­mit­ment to old school lyr­i­cism cre­ate some­thing that you fill find your­self replay­ing. After this exper­i­ment­al work, we are left to won­der what a more mature Wilson Miles will cre­ate in the future.

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Nicholas Milverton
A writer with an interest in Philo­sophy, Soci­ology, Anthro­po­logy and all things intro­spect­ive. Someone who is equally at home in under­ground house raves as he is in café’s. He is con­tinu­ally ques­tion­ing the sys­tem and his own lines of reas­on­ing. There­fore, he is always rein­vent­ing him­self.

About Nicholas Milverton

Nicholas Milverton
A writer with an interest in Philosophy, Sociology, Anthropology and all things introspective. Someone who is equally at home in underground house raves as he is in cafe's. He is continually questioning the system and his own lines of reasoning. Therefore, he is always reinventing himself.