Album Reviews

Mice Parade – Bem-Vinda Vontade

(Fat Cat) UK release date: 23 May 2005

With access to the noise and chatter of world music now an open door to anyone equipped with web access and digital storage devices, the collusive potentiality of global pop may well become characteristic of these times.

Mice Parade is essentially the work of drummer and composer Adam Pierce, but the multihued palette from whence Pierce draws the impressionistic flourishes of Bem-Vinda Vontade has cross-cultural pollination as its unspoken theme.

Though five albums into parading his mice to all, Adam Pierce may be a new name to many (that many, I confess, includes me) but Pierce has paid his collaborative dues by working with a stellar line-up of artists its likely you’ve never heard of (okay, well, I haven’t). As such Bem-Vinda Vontade is at once a mixed and conversely fluid affair.

A unlikely, but effective dialogue between strict tempo and vigourous feel, Bem-Vinda Vontade’s scarcely credible boast is that these nine ‘songs’ were recorded live, save for the odd crimp or clip here and there. If so, it’s to all mice’s credit that all nine pieces possess the light weighting of improvisation, yet maintain disciplined composition.

Dominated (in the main) by flamenco strings and rhythms and curiously narrative live drumming (played by Pierce and occasionally Doug Scharin), Bem-Vinda Vontade stakes no bold claims on attention and is content to exist as thought-provoking dream music. Here and there, as on Ground As Cold As Common, Pierce’s voice slips in, its tunelessness at odds with the sheer musicality at play, but at one with the intermittent MBV rumble of the electric guitar.

Often too busy to be truly mood-inducing, Bem-Vinda Vontade is as much about space as visceral kicks. Though Nights Wave features the post-twee breathiness of Mum‘s Kristin Ann Valtysdottir over kinetic, tangible, acoustics, it shifts softly into a twinkling, snowfall coda, before melding into the vacillating ‘Loomer’ style-jitter of Passing & Galloping. If Valtysdottir’s frail will o’ the whispering is a little saccharine at times (with the exception of The Days Before Fiction), there is more effective support in the tones of Ikuko Harada, lead-singer of Japanese combo Clammbon, providing genuinely ethereal support on Ground As Cold As Common.

Perhaps more accessible than was intended, Pierce has a keen ear for the flourish of flamenco. The full sound of the guitar strings have an urgency and thoughtfulness that is all their own, perhaps howNeptunes records might sound if all they’d ever listened to was Talk Talk‘s Laughing Stock album.

An atmosphere of pensive watching and waiting pervades Bem-Vinda Vontade throughout. Steady As She Goes has echoes of Nick Drake‘s Three Hours, all woody sensuality and regretful circumspection (“there’s still some comfort there”), while Pierce’s distant acknowledgement of “in the town they are fighting and suffering” (Passing & Galloping) is as serviceable a metaphor as any for the air of passive, yet apprehensive, contemplation.

Adam Pierce has concocted a cogitative brew, a fountain of trills ‘n’ thrills, that has the noisy echo of ’80s New York noise bands, glimpses of the Fusion and Latin flair that transfixes the likes of Fila Brasilia and Jimpster, and the gossamery drift of Scandinavian techno-pop. Neatly side-stepping any whiff of kitsch, Bem-Vinda Vontade’s gentle gravity explains why there is a ‘repeat’ function on CD players.

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More on Mice Parade
Mice Parade – What It Means To Be Left-Handed
Mice Parade – Mice Parade
Mice Parade – Bem-Vinda Vontade