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Mice Parade - Bem-vinda Vontade

  by Dominic B. Simpson

published: 18 / 5 / 2005

Mice Parade - Bem-vinda Vontade
Label: Fat Cat Records
Format: CD


Compelling genre-defying electronica from Mice Parade, the alias of New Yorker Adam Pierce, which never overstays its experimental indulgences

Mice Parade is essentially the alias (and anagram) of one Adam Pierce, a New Yorker who has played in the past with Boston shoegazers The Swirlies and Iceland’s atmospheric múm. He also runs the Bubble Core label, a haven of originality that’s released the likes of Jim O’Rourke, Barry Adamson, and Pan Sonic in the US. A prolific artist whose somehow managed to find the time to release five previous albums in the space of seven years, Mice Parade’s initial releases were characterised by complex, abstract instrumental compositions, leaning much towards Chicago post-rockers like Tortoise, The For Carnation and the other acts on Tortoise's Thrill Jockey label. Over these five albums, plus countless collaborations, Mice Parade's sound has morphed considerably, taking on vocals and a more conventional, ‘warmer’ element, though always retaining a definite ‘left of centre’ element and retaining a playful sense of experimentation. Pierce has explored with Mice Parade a profusion of numerous ideas through each release, from indie rock to instrumental post rock, electronica, ambient noise, Oriental and African instruments, and Latin-influenced elements, all the while constantly evading categorisation. It’s this latter presence in Mice Parade’s sound that has been particularly present both in 2004’s 'Obrigade Saudade', which roughly translates as ‘Thankyou, Nostalgia’ in Portuguese, and this new album, 'Bem-Vinda Vontade', again titled in that language - it translates roughly as ‘Welcome Will’. Bem-Vinda Vontade very much takes off from where it’s predecessor ended up, with Spanish guitars and flamenco dominating songs such as ‘Nights Wave’ and ‘Steady As She Goes’. The latter is one of the best tracks here, a lush, warm meditation with a beautifully relaxed atmospheric feel bringing to mind towns by the sea in the Mediterranean, full of dark, candle-lit narrow streets and warm air, with Pierce intoning “there’s still some comfort there” and evoking images of drawing pictures in the sand. Just as when it seems as if Mice Parade have left behind whatever indie rock leanings that may have been present, however, ‘Passing & Galloping” owes a passing debt to ‘Loveless’-era My Bloody Valentine with it’s revved-up fuzzy guitars and hazy, somnambulant vocals (The Swirlies also dealt in a similar dream-pop aesthetic). This isn’t the first time Mice Parade have evoked My Bloody Valentine-sounding guitars, as a track from a couple of years back entitled ‘Organic Reproduction Attempt’ will attest. That song was released on a compilation of bands on Mice Parade's British label, the truly fantastic Fat Cat – home of the Animal Collective, Sigur Rós, Set Fire To Flames, To Rococo Rot, and the afore-mentioned múm. Similar to many of Fat Cat’s rooster, what makes Mice Parade unique is their dedication to explore new areas of sounds and remain perennially unpredictable and idiosyncratic. Hence the beautiful kaleidoscopic spiralling keyboard sound which bridges 'Night Wave' and 'Passing & Galloping', as well as providing the intro for 'Waterslide', a sparkling fairy-tale swirl of recurring bell sounds that brings to mind the hypnotic experimentation of Steve Reich. Just to show that he’s not completely a one-man band playing most of the instruments, there’s also guest appearances from múm’s Kristín Anna Valtysdóttir and Ikuko Harada, singer of Japanese band Chammbon, whose 2003 album was produced by Pierce. Both singers contribute eerie childlike lyrics, the latter singing in both English and her native Japanese (indeed, it’s difficult to discern which singer is which). HiM drummer Doug Scharin also appears occasionally on drums, an instrument that Pierce explores his fascination with on 'Waterslide', which revels in a multitude of overdubbed rhythms (including a heavily delayed snare beat) over which a circular guitar riff and droning synth made their presence heard, before the song breaks down to more flamenco guitar. On other tracks, meanwhile, there’s a hint of bossa nova bubbling underneath while on the closing 'Ende', there’s some brilliant use of Gamelan instruments to compliment gentle acoustic circular guitar arpeggios. If the album seems meticulously arranged, the only flaw in this album is the occasional insipid feeling of songs like 'The Days Before Fiction', which veer towards the kind of coffee table blandness, replete with trip-hop sounding vocals and polite arrangements. Thankfully, Mice Parade manage to overcome clichés for most of the album and offer up a fascinating ride that never overstays its experimental indulgences.

Track Listing:-
1 Warm Hand In Farmland
2 Nights Wave
3 Passing & Galloping
4 The Days Before Fiction
5 Steady As She Goes
6 Waterslide
7 The Boat Room
8 Ground As Cold As Common
9 Ende

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What It means to Be Left-Handed (2010)
Astounding ninth album from Mice Parade, the moniker of New York percussionist Adam Pierce, which mixes influences as diverse as flamenco, indie rock, post rock and jazz
Obrigado Saudade (2003)

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