scallops hotel – sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face

– featured image courtesy of kristina pederson –

album of the fortnight” is a bi-weekly feature that digs into a recent release of note.  the articles will run roughly during the middle and at the end of each month, always on a friday; the album or body of work in question will have been released at some point during that two-week span.  this column focuses on art that resonates deeply, on pieces that necessitate more than just a knee-jerk reaction.  first up this year: scallops hotel.

The annals of rory ferreira can be found scattered throughout both this website and the greater ether.  since 2011, ferreira has charted a course under the moniker milo that seems nearly unparalleled in quality of creative output and do-it-yourself success; for almost as long, ferreira has also released more intimate, improvised, and largely self-produced efforts as scallops hotel.

sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face, released in the hours preceding the new year, rests in the latter camp.  the mixtape’s eleven tracks are brief but potent snippets of consciousness, laid down in brooklyn over the course of an early autumn weekend.  like previous scallops hotel ventures, the instrumentals across sovereign nose are supplied by ferreira himself, save for co-production by host steel tipped dove on “sedan,” and dwell largely on the symbiotic relationship between sustained, contemplative piano chords and the wisps of silence following their release.

that aural theme is speckled with flittering motifs and concrete boom-bap pulses, a versatile canvas that allows ferreira to easily run a gamut of emotions in verse.  ferocity wanes to reflexiveness on opening number “a terror way beyond falling” before waxing back to full strength, while playful turns of phrase dot the brief spell that is “leisure.”  the mixtape’s lone guest spot displays perhaps the most blatant juxtaposition of vocal and instrumental timbres, as youngman delivers an abrasive, searing whirlwind of a verse over tinkling keys on “private temple hours.”

sovereign nose scallops hotel

lest its brevity suggest that consumption should be quick, sovereign nose comes packed with ferreira’s wealth of pop culture nods and his affinity for vocabulary; a studious listener would do well to sit down with any required reference materials and parse out as much of the mixtape as possible.  amidst the aforementioned and his pledged allegiance to ruby yacht lie straightforward truths like “i find myself in the same place / aimlessly wandering systemic violence with amazing grace,” the opening couplet on “the method (jawgems pausing in the hotel lobby)” and the mixtape’s title as mantra, coming to a head as the beautifully-mumbled cadence in “rank, title, pressures.”

sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face is billed as the second in a trilogy of mixtapes, following last summer’s over the carnage rose a voice prophetic.  while the latter is peppered with vocals manipulated by effects processors, the former is comparatively clean, and, consequently, a bit less sonically disorienting.  listened to in succession, sovereign nose plays an even more explicit foil to over the carnage, making the aural structure of the trilogy’s impending final installment that much more intriguing.

at this point, every release involving rory ferreira is appointment listening.  sovereign nose of (y)our arrogant face, out now via ferreira’s ruby yacht label, is admirable work and sets the bar high early in 2018.  stream the mixtape in full below.

listen to a new song from milo

milo:scallops hotel
photo courtesy of giovanni solis

between the title of his forthcoming album and the stark nature of its artwork, it’s apparent that rory ferreira is hyper-aware of mortality in present-day america.  but on “zen scientist,” the first single culled from so the flies don’t come, he seems confident and pragmatic in dealing with the situation.  recording again as milo, ferreira raps plainly that “the soul is fly / i’m in my new zone / i have decided my point of view” with help from myka 9 over kenny segal’s downtrodden production; there are no frills, non-sequiturs are trimmed to a minimum, and milo’s analogies refer less to his pop-culture prowess and instead hone in on key figures he views as progenitors to his current mentality.  so the flies don’t come arrives september 25th via ruby yacht.  let your soul fly.

scallops hotel – plain speaking

out may 5th via ruby yacht/the order label
out may 5th via ruby yacht/the order label

editor’s note: every review of an album or ep has come standard with a numerical ranking assigned at the end of the article since the inception of dimestore saints.  for awhile, this seemed to be a necessity, a way to keep up with other blogs and to perhaps speak a sort of shorthand code to those wishing to find the most thought-provoking new albums in the shortest amount of time.  as this site has progressed i’ve become increasingly conflicted about assigning art an arbitrary value, which is why i’m stopping, effective immediately.  from this moment forward, one can assume that any album or ep explored in length on dimestore saints carries some amount of merit and helps to shape the ever-changing musical landscape around us.  one can also assume that any album or ep assigned the “best new music” category is not inherently superior to all other music released that week, but rather has a profound impact on the author and/or directly relates to noted cultural shifts and movements within the music community, both of which are key components when curating year-end content.  phew.  long-winded formalities aside, here’s our take on the new scallops hotel full-length.

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rory ferreira has charted an expansive course under the guise of milo, a persona culled from humble beginnings in the wisconsin rap collective nom de rap and sculpted meticulously over the past four years.  as milo gained a solid amount of traction in 2013 with a pair of eps and the stellar cavalcade mixtape, ferreira trotted out a side project called scallops hotel, one that found him mostly in charge of production and experimenting with songs devoid of conventional form.  after quietly releasing poplar grove (or how to rap with a hammer) late that year, ferreira returns – more vociferously this time – as scallops hotel once again to deliver plain speaking, a riveting back-to-basics exercise.

plain speaking is the most straightforward lyrical body of work ferreira has offered thus far in his career.  his rhyme schemes, previously dictated by sequences of quick-witted non-sequiturs and compounding philosophical references, are now extremely fluid; standout cuts like “bookoo bread co” seem to come from ferreira’s heart as much as from his mind, and the name-checks that do still necessitate a google search fit comfortably within his narrative.  many tracks also allow the audience to bear witness to ferreira’s rebirth of self.  the downtrodden “roc marciano riff suite 1” distills his growing aversion to the aforementioned fact-checking into a tidy succession of bars before arriving at a thesis that feels central to the entire album: “don’t have to be flying / just existing.”  the notion of relishing the present moment is in line with the overall fluidity of ferreira’s delivery, and adds an extra dimension to the organic nature that already permeates plain speaking.

the musical side of the album is a bit more nuanced and showcases a personal progression rather than a strict reinvention for ferreira.  “lavender chunk” was the first piece of plain speaking teased to the general public, and for good reason; its no-frills production further underscores the project’s direct nature.  the track also functions well as a cursory overview of ferreira’s work for the casual or first-time listener, and its accessibility paired with a reasonably high-profile guest verse from hemlock ernst yields a rare product from ferreira that feels almost radio-ready.

in the context of the rest of plain speaking, however, “lavender chunk” is an anomaly.  most tracks are a bit murkier and some like “tense present” tend to shoot off suddenly into new musical thoughts, as if the non-sequiturs that previously frequented ferreira’s lyrics now manifest in his production.  stabbed piano chords dictate opening number “gnosis, black nationalism, rice”; there is an interlude where a beat pulses tentatively underneath the recitation a henry dumas poem; the penultimate cut “birther” rests comfortably as the album’s lone instrumental track.  the fluidity and renewed earnestness of ferreira’s lyrics binds together plain speaking, and its most crucial result is this unabashed – albeit exhaustive – exploration of timbres and constructs.

when scallops hotel first emerged as a side project in 2013, it felt like a devotion to the self; in 2015 it feels more like a reclamation of the self.  as milo has become increasingly subjected to public expectation, scallops hotel has served to counter any semblance of limitation.  on plain speaking, ferreira has free reign and wisely chooses to surround himself with close, integral contributors.  long-time collaborator safari al is granted one of just three guest verses on the album, and ferreira again enlisted the mixing talents of riley lake and the mastering craftwork of daddy kev.  a few tracks were outsourced to other producers, a mild concession that keeps plain speaking from becoming too self-indulgent and serves as an indicator that ferreira still benefits from outside help.  a perennial struggle for solo artists seems to be finding a proper balance between independence and collaboration; on plain speaking, rory ferreira is in full bloom.

listen to a new song from scallops hotel

milo:scallops hotel
photo courtesy of giovanni solis

rory ferreira has made considerable headway as milo, a multi-faceted, philosophical art-rap persona responsible for 2013’s cavalcade and last fall’s a toothpaste suburb.  ferreira has mostly outsourced production duties to artists like iglooghost and riley lake for each milo release, but in his other project, scallops hotel, ferreira is in complete control of all aspects.  a new scallops hotel album called plain speaking is due out may 5th via ferreira’s own ruby yacht label, and we got our first taste of his new material earlier this week.

“lavender chunk” exists simply, a few different synthesizer melodies layered on top of an incessant drum loop. hemlock ernst – the alter ego of future islands frontman samuel herring – handles the first verse before ferreira hops on to finish things off.  the song’s hook arrives late, and the seemingly endless repetition of “brothers like me don’t live too long / that’s why i have to write so many rap songs” only becomes more chilling with each utterance.  take a listen to “lavender chunk” below.