The third and most ambitious instalment of her inimitable deconstructed book series sees Millaze adopt a compelling formula, which serves as an authentic application to the melodramatic indie-rock which rose to prominence throughout the past decade. But while aspects of her work draw parallels with distinguished artists such as the likes of Mitski and Julien Baker, Millaze’s exemplary levels of creativity ensure ‘Front Matter’ is not only inspired by, but also lies on par with some of the genre’s most notable projects.
Exerting her proficient piano expertise, Millaze’s nuanced approach to songwriting helps create an album engulfed in ethereality, often yielding a trade-off between reflection and escapism. This culminates in an engaging project which exerts contrasting emotions at certain points throughout the album. Such reminiscence is felt most notably on the poignant ‘White V-Neck Frontispiece’, on which Millaze ruminates in unforgotten memories of a previous relationship, while singing “You’re what I need but I left behind”. However, tracks such as ‘Illustrated by Sirens on S. Lincoln’ offer an antithetical atmosphere, with the conspicuous snare and distinct hi-hats forging a hip-hop inspired instrumental, who’s divergent style reflects a period of escapism. This juxtaposition is an element perfected by Millaze throughout the course of the album, and is enhanced by her graceful piano melodies which often contradict the rawness of the mixing. These conflicting states are acknowledged on ‘Copyright Scissors in the Sky and a Silence’ by the artist herself, as she repeatedly sings the lyrics indicative of her music; “Reality, memory, fantasy and dream”.
When Millaze does engage in escapism, she repeatedly ignites the dream in “dreamhop”, notably on occasions such as the appregiated piano on “Reissue: Did You Hear Me All This Time”, which helps mould a transcendent atmosphere of which the chorus’ elegant vocals are beautifully complimented by. While her passionate, expressive vocals consistently convey the nature of her lyrics in impressive fashion, it’s her prudent piano arrangements which often dictate the tone of the record. This musical astuteness sees here effectively know when to transition between isolated piano solos during emotive passages, and when to compliment them with other elements such as the emphatic drumming which helps bring ‘Title Page: The Dialectic’ to a grand crescendo.
But amidst the ethereality, Millaze draws inspiration from her environment, brilliantly incorporating aesthetical touches from her surroundings, which help introduce industrial elements to the album. This is experienced most prominently on the bold, but incredible 7-minute instrumental opener, ‘Half-Title Page’, where the ambience consisting of abstract synths, a delicate piano and subtle guitar riffs find themselves persistently competing with the sound of sirens and the Oakland Steel Mills. These juxtaposing passages allow ‘Front Matter’ to coexists as both fantasy and reality, causing you to become immersed in inner-city struggles, whilst simultaneously dreaming of an escape. This ultimately results in an absorbing album which showcases Millaze’s emphatic range of virtuosity. An album with huge replay value.
Favourite Tracks: Projection Room / Gutter, Reissue: Did You Hear Me All This Time, Copyright Scissors in the Sky and a Silence, Scream / 529 / Spine