Brooklyn indie band Milagres have just put out a new album, their third, titled Violent Light, via Memphis Industries. The LP is the band's first as a four-piece (following 2011's Glowing Mouth) and is commonly referred to as having been composed "in a haze of Vicodin from a hospital bed after a climbing accident left lead vocalist Kyle Wilson incapacitated for months." This does not mean, however, the album is less of an insight to Wilson's psyche:

"Yesterday my therapist asked if she could hear the music I've been working on," says lead vocalist Kyle Wilson. "I'm pretty scared to play her this record because I'm sure there's some subconscious stuff in there that I really don't want to confront."

The ten-track release is now available for your listening pleasure, along with a handy track-by-track release. Read on below.

'Perennial Bulb'

In Hopi mythology, human ancestors originally all emerged from a small hole in the ground. I learned this as a kid, as I spent the summers with my grandparents who lived on a small piece of land in the middle of the San Ildefonso Pueblo in Northern New Mexico. In the cliffs above the valley there are cave dwellings where the Pueblo Indians lived hundreds of years ago. My grandparents took me to these caves a lot when I was little, and I spent a lot of time playing in them and imagining what life must have been like for the people who inhabited them. Perennial Bulb is me revisiting the mystifying world of that place in my head.

In keeping with that spirit, the song was 'through-composed' and for the most part, it remains unedited with regard to its overall shape. I knew I wanted some kind of musical thread to endure throughout the entire song and chose an ostinato pattern that recalls American Minimalism. I also knew that I wanted to use samples to create a lush and immense environment since the song was about such a vast and mysterious place. I began to improvise over the loops and samples and suddenly a distorted guitar jumped out of the darkness.

In the studio, we re-worked all of the sounds and samples and at Fraser's urging built more of a chord progression for the verses, which were originally much more ambiguous. Chris brought in some really interesting key sounds to contribute to the sections with the busier bass line, which we decided to add some grit and beef to. One of my favorite additions, which came near the end of our work on the album were the backing vocals. They have a foreboding and ominous quality, which I love. Paul's hi-hat work on this song is really great and I think some of his most memorable drum fills on the album are in this tune as well.

'Terrifying Sea'

If one of the goals of a songwriter is write a song that needs no further explanation, then I may have succeeded in that respect with 'Terrifying Sea'. It is sincere and direct, and it says exactly what it means to say. It's hard to imagine that there are a lot of people out there who haven't felt the same way as the protagonist of this song. If there are then they are probably sociopaths and you might want to stay away from them.

The original demo was a very simple arrangement with just voices and classical guitar. At first it was difficult to see the song as a Milagres tune, and we struggled as a band with the arrangement for months. It went through many, many iterations before it began to feel right. Musically, it was probably the most collaborative arrangement of the entire album and ultimately, I think we all put in the hard work to get it to a place where we were all happy with it.

'Jeweled Cave'

'Jeweled Cave' recalls an adolescent relationship that I had with a male friend of mine. It wasn't a sexual relationship, but I don't think you could describe it as anything other than being in love. I thought it would be interesting to write a song that could be a nostalgic love song, but with kind of a dark, menacing twist. We were in love, but we could never admit it, and in a way we've always hated each other for that fact.

Getting the feel right for this song took a lot of work and I don't think we would have been able to accomplish it if we hadn't worked on the song live a lot before we began taping. The song intentionally draws from a lot of different eras at the same time. It has backing vocals in the verses that are reminiscent of 60's pop psychedelia, a synth tag that sounds like it might be from something the early 80's, and there's a little bit of a David Bowie Heroes vibe to the lead vocal delivery. We worked hard to make sure all of those elements fit together in a new an unexpected way.

We also did a lot of experimentation with the production for this song. In the background of the chorus there is an atmospheric sound devised from a sample of a subway car's high-pitched brakes as it screeches to a stop. The lead vocal on the chorus is run through a guitar amplifier, which gives it an glassy sheen and a little bit of extra grit at the same time. At the very end of the song, we recorded a nonsense lyric lead vocal in a kind of Scott Walker croon and ran it through a bunch of filters to make it sound distant and muffled. Its barely audible, but to me it adds a lot to the ending of the song.

'The Black Table'

During one of those summers that I spent with my grandparents in the Rio Grande valley, my grandfather took me up a large, flat mountain colloquially referred to as The Black Mesa. The mesa is the sacred burial ground of the ancestors of the Pueblo people in the area, and it is now forbidden for people to go there unless they are a part of a ceremony. I kept picturing the desert grasses growing off of the nutrients from the bodies of these people who had led such simple and different lives, the massive afternoon thunderstorms that roll in every evening in the summer, and the colors of the vast landscape.

Ultimately, my fascination with this place and time in my childhood led me back to my grandfather, who was an engineer for the Manhattan Project. He has lived in the valley near The Black Mesa since the 1950's. He helped to design some aspects of the Hydrogen Bomb, still the most powerful weapon of mass destruction in the human arsenal. After we'd mostly completed the album I went back to New Mexico to interview him, but the results were mostly topical and I failed to get to what I still feel is somewhere under the surface.

I once asked my grandfather how nuclear fission worked over lunch, after which we had made plans to see the excellent Arnold Schwarzenegger film Kindergarten Cop. My grandfather spent four hours explaining nuclear fission, drawing diagrams on napkins and going into great detail. We missed the film. I was interested in learning about nuclear fission, but I was also disappointed to miss the movie.

I have a lot of differences with my grandfather, but I wonder if our brains intersect at a place where science is anything but mundane. Is there some ineffable element of being, some great mystery, that is lost in a scientific explanation - or is the science itself miraculous and beautiful enough that we don't need the mystery anymore to feel like we're not alone?

'Column of Streetlight'

When I was in high school I used to sneak out of my parents house at night. I'd drive about two miles through the suburban desert punctuated by little brown adobe houses and I'd pull over about a block from my girlfriend's house at the time. I'd climb over her fence as quietly as possible and gently tap on her window. She'd unlock and open it and I'd climb in. I would usually stay there until early in the morning, when I'd sneak back home before my parents could even realize I'd been gone. There were a few times when her parents must have heard us talking and when they came to check on her I would hide in the closet until they were convinced nobody else was there. Our relationship was co-dependent, obsessive, and smothering as only a typical adolescent relationship could be. I wanted the song to be open to the possibility of violence rather than simply nostalgic, so I left elements of the whole picture out.

This song is one of the band's favorites. Fraser achieved our favorite drum sound on the record on this one - using the big room in upstate NY. It was also a place on the record where Chris really began to develop some of the key sounds that you'll hear throughout.

I was just getting into trap music at the time that the song was written, mostly for the feel. I like how it can sound really aggressive, but slow at the same time and sometimes even a bit lazy. I also really like some of the stuff I've been hearing electronic producers do with side chaining in the last few years. I thought it might be an interesting experiment to combine the two elements. The results open the song and then revisit in the second verse.

'The Letterbomb'

Towards the end of the summer of 2012, we'd finished touring for Glowing Mouth and I was about to find a job and settle back into life in Brooklyn and begin working on our next album. I'll admit, I was already suffering from a bit of post-tour blues when this email landed in my inbox:


I am Malte. I work as personal assistant, M.D. and helper for two great young men, Bengt-Ake and Malte. They both suffer from multiple disabilties (handicaps), and their days are full of hardship and hurtfulness since they are unable to move their bodies as they would like to. And they need attention 24 hours per day.

Even though their bodies are dysfunctioning, their brains are excellent. This means they enjoy music, films and follow news on TV and cable. They are very interested in music and especially the type of music that you perform. They listen to your songs through computer all day!

They communicate through their computers with me and others. I must admit I love my work. I devote myself into it, a lot.

It happen from time to time they have very dark moments, which is quite understandable. I understand they sometimes wonder why they live their meaningless lives at all. These moments come quite often nowadays. So I try my best to cheer them up as much as I can.

I wonder if you would like to assist me with this, and become a part of their happiness, cheerfulness and gratitude, too.

I humbly wonder if you would feel happy to send them two (2) autographed photos of Milagres, each (one for Malte, one for Bengt-Ake). This would be a dream for them, especially since they are celebrities in their eyes (and ears) among the most important performers of today's world.

I will be the one to have your photos framed and placed on the walls in their private rooms, something that surely will enlighten their darkest moments. So the best size would be A4 (8x10") - if at all available, that is.

I convey on Maltes and Bengt-Akes behalf, 1000 thanks in advance to you all. They also wish to give you, and Milagres, their best greetings and wishes for the best of luck and happiness onwards.

Respect to you for your outstanding work, and music.

Very truly yours,


Of course, we sent autographed photos and a few other goodies, but I was devastated. I couldn't stop imagining these two young men and their "very dark moments" where they lay trapped in their useless bodies to contemplate "why they live their meaningless lives at all." I didn't know what to feel about it - I wanted to say something to them, and I wanted them to say something to me, but I really didn't know what. I envisioned us becoming pen pals, somehow learning something from one another that made both of our lives more meaningful.

Eventually, I got myself together and emailed Malte, but I never heard back. Later in the fall, we got a few similar requests for autographed photos and began to realize that a surprising amount of them were scams. Apparently, a few enterprising individuals were collecting signed photos of 'up and coming' bands, perhaps with notion that they'd get lucky and one or two would be worth a fortune one day. I don't know if Malte's letter was a scam or not and at this point, I'm not sure I want to know.

'The Letterbomb' is an imaginary dialogue between myself, the young men described in Malte's letter and the perpetrator of the scam itself. It is a jumble of tidbits of imagined communication, rather than a coherent conversation. There are things I'd say to them, things I imagine they'd say to me, and then about half way through the song the scam gets revealed, but it doesn't even matter - I've already read the letter and its already torn me apart. And yet the whole thing definitely has a sense of humor because I've had to laugh at my own gullibility - and at my oversensitivity as well.

The song itself is one of the most playful songs I've ever written and one of the funkiest. I don't think I would have written it if Paul hadn't come into the band - I knew he would 'get' the drum part for this one and that he'd nail it, which he definitely did.

'Urban Eunuchs'

This one is just really weird. Yesterday my therapist asked if she could hear the music I've been working on and I'm pretty scared to play her this one because I'm sure there's some subconscious stuff in there that I really don't want to confront.

The only images in the lyrics that seem consciously derived to me come from a very bizarre few days that the band spent together in Niagara Falls, NY, which is a run down, economically depressed empty shell of a tourist town on the Canadian border. You stand there against a guard-rail and watch Niagara falls, this unbelievably massive and sublime force of nature against the backdrop of Canadian casinos and hotels across the river. I kept thinking about the many unfortunate people, living and dead, for whom this experience is the closest they come to both the unforgiving wrath and the intense beauty of nature.

This song was fun for us live right out of the box as it was an uncommon opportunity for us to be freaks and channel our inner Iggy and the Stooges. It was a refreshing thing for us to get together and work on something like this after touring on the controlled material of Glowing Mouth for so long.

In production we talked a lot about how the song has a soulful, funky vibe, but also a weirder, more sinister element. Fraser thought it might be interesting to start the song with a stylistic nod to Al Green and then let the sinister aspects of the song slowly creep in and take things over. Fraser used some funky microphones on the drums to get a vintage feel, and even recorded Paul playing some hand drums to go along with the snare drum hits, which is something you can hear on some older soul albums. The sinister vibes really start to rise when the guitar solo becomes progressively atonal and my vocal gets more and more breathy and weird. We wanted the song to get even stranger, so Fraser added a really gross sounding noise track and brought it up slowly so that when the song ends you're left only with this icky hum.


'IDNYL' was the last song written for the album. Originally it had no lyrics and I was just mumbling breathy vowel sounds into the microphone. I translated my nonsense into something somewhat coherent, but in the end I decided I didn't really want to be completely understood. I wanted my voice to sound like I was trying to say something, but I didn't want the lyrics to get in the way of that impression of effort.

This might be the only song that we didn't work on live before we set out to record it, only because there wasn't time. I had finished writing for the album and had a list of 10 or 15 'snippets' that I wanted to send to the band in case there was something that we really should develop at the last minute. Fraser latched on to this one and used my one-minute 'snippet' to flesh out an entire demo. Without time to re-record, we used many of the original elements from the original 'snippet' and the subsequent demo for the final mix.


'Sunburn' was a tune that I started working on while we were touring for Glowing Mouth and puzzled over for a very long time. 'Sunburn' is a very simple song, but it was one of the most difficult to write. The lyrics are somewhat abstract, but they're also straightforward. I think they speak for themselves - I wanted to use images that were fresh, but that people could identify with to get at a more complicated emotion.

Production wise this one was really a challenge. There were so many layers that we added in - a melodic Rhodes line, a flittering bass, a wobbly synth pad, a shimmery guitar, the unpredictable skittering electronic hi-hats that you hear a lot in hip hop production these days, live drums, electronic drums, more electronic drums, etc. Ultimately, we ended up with so much stuff that for the first time we had to produce a song by actually removing things as opposed to adding them. It was interesting for us because we are so used to working the other way around. We literally spent hours in front of the editing window, hashing out where each bass drum hit and each hi-hat roll should land, arguing our points until we were all sufficiently convinced. We deleted a lot of stuff and we ended up with 'Sunburn'.

'Another Light'

'Another Light' was co-written by Fraser and I. I had the verses and the pre-choruses and I was convinced that I'd written a song. Fraser and Chris disagreed and pushed me to write another part for the song, but I was skeptical. I wrote some pretty grizzly choruses, but nothing really took. Eventually Fraser took a stab at it himself, going off of some of the lyrical concepts I'd developed. I was uneasy with his contribution at first, but as things took shape I grew to like it more and more. Ultimately, it became one of my favorite songs on the album.

I touched on this in my bit about The Black Table, but I've been interested lately in various concepts of the afterlife. I think a lot of people find comfort in certain religious notions of afterlife purely because they allow them to hang on to their individual identities. Wherever they go after they die, they still get to be themselves. An understandable amount of discomfort arises when one considers a more scientific version of the afterlife where your identity is irretrievably lost. You don't get to exist anymore. The song is sung from the point of view of someone who is trying to explain that this scientific interpretation of death is actually comforting and miraculous in a way, and once you've resign to the loss of identity, a silver lining appears. You're now a part of the universe once again and there are no boundaries between you and it. You're free in a way that you were previously incapable of seeing. I actually considered titling the song Cult Leader, almost like the protagonist of the song was trying to start a new non-religion.

Production wise, this song has so many interesting tidbits. Paul had to be very exacting on the roto-toms, which we recorded and edited laboriously. Fraser and I had talked about the effected female backing vocals from Dark Side of the Moon before we even began working on the album and we found an opportunity to try out that technique on the chorus in this song. The brass parts in the outro were some of the most difficult to arrange on the record. Just a few moments of music took me a day or two of work to get right. Recording those arrangements with some really great musicians, most of whom are Julliard School grads, made all the hard work worth it.