In his newest record VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN, Lil Ugly Mane is less of the intimidating poet that most introductions were met through. Instead, Travis Miller or Lil Ugly Mane is able to sit on a throne of frankly and often-times, gorgeous segments of production.
His earlier projects like the instrumental juggernauts THREE SIDED TAPE sagas always had moments of indie and more sung tracks, but VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN takes those personal favorites and expands on them.
Opening with “bird enemy car,” Lil Ugly Mane continues to ask almost existentially, “Who Are You? Who Are You? Who Are You?” under the guise of an animatronic female vocal set. As the instrumentation builds, the presentation is like a slow Ken Burns-style draw of the entire universe through time. It follows the dawn of the Ice Age, into the Dark Ages, then Middle Ages, times of enlightenment, all the way to Man’s ruin.
As the following track “with iron & bleach & accidents” shuffles into the frame, the instrumentation is a child’s carousel that is bent in a sadistic way. Lil Ugly Mane has lines that describe, “Hiding in the panels of amnesia,” or “People under dynamited buildings take a break from smoldering and smile.” Lil Ugly Mane’s writing always has this undertone of mud to the mix, VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN is still similar in that way.
Pieces that follow like “cold in here” is less vapid and more about challenging his non-loyal fanbase to adapt into this less of a rap-focused release. For fans that have trampled through his BandCamp page previously, VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN quickly becomes a record that not only shows progression to his sound but shows adaptability to the sonic capabilities.
Miller or Lil Ugly Mane might not be the most reliable narrator through his works, but on VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN, he becomes engaged in ways that weren’t really possible before.
Taking the track “headboard” which was one of the technical singles of the record or “clapping seal,” those two tracks are drastically different in instrumentation but Miller’s delivery checks the room to see if they are still paying attention. Even if Lil Ugly Mane is alone in that room, he creates just for the sake of creating.
In doing so, VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN becomes this beautiful collection of sound that is not so distant from Lil Ugly Mane’s incredibly sporadic career. However, to compare MISTA THUG ISOLATION to VOLCANIC BIRD ENEMY AND THE VOICED CONCERN, the two projects couldn’t be more different. But somehow in doing so, the most positive talking point about the record is just how immaculately contrasting it is.