IDM Jam Session | The first of the twins is the endearing and imaginative way that Chris Da Mouse, aka 2nd Mouse (could that be his real name?), introduced his new album "Levite" in an email that pinged into my inbox less than a week ago. This album is indeed the first of two works compiled, I am told, during an explosively creative period of six months when, due to being internet-less, he was able to concentrate on living life and making music. Well, I’m pleased to say that the big net machine’s loss was music’s gain, as he put his time to excellent use.
2nd Mouse describes his music as being like Plaid, Depeche Mode, Aphex Twin and Square Pusher having a jam session - imagine what a party that would be. So, with this illustrious company in mind, standards are set very high.
Mister Da Mouse chooses his sounds well with an ear to individual combinations of both classic and new sounds that cause you to re-assess your assumptions. "Levite" is an album whose feel is, in one respect, cinematic; tracks such as "Times are hard for dreamers" and a "Fistful of beats" create a sense of place, atmosphere and narrative in the listener that is evocative and entrancing. On the other hand Levite is also an album stuffed full with good old synth pop tunes. Throughout there is a sense of playfulness.
The already well honed sense of melody, displayed with such aplomb in his previous album "An Armful Of Opposite Lock" has now been refined. This, allied to an undoubted sense of creative confidence that comes with hitting one’s stride, produces some delightful and surprising moments of wry musical wit and humor. Where "An Armful" had more moments of darkness "Levite" is an exercise in balance. A track like "Drone Revolt", which has something of the nasty about it, contains an excitable super fast keyboard lick to offset the sinister elements. What we have here is a mature collection of compositions that deploy pop sensibilities and mix them intelligently with more cutting edge elements to produce exquisite tracks such as "So, tell me Oscillator" and "Ai Moo". Here there are parallels with the music of the excellent King Bastard from Herb Recordings.
The wistful and atmospheric "Times are hard for dreamers" transports you to a caberet club, complete with crooning vocals from Mister Da Mouse, brushed drums, string and echoed guitar strikes and meandering keyboards. This is down at heal dreaming; a nostalgia for a past yet to happen; a place for gin soaked regrets from the future. On "So, tell me Oscillator" inspiration is drawn from the little known electronic artist Plone and continues in a retro 50s kitch vibe often favoured by 2nd Mouse. This kitch element is further explored in the whimsical "Fistful of beats" a Spaghetti-western themed track complete with clomping woodblock sound and honkey-tonk-esque piano.
I enjoyed the previous offering, "An Armful of Opposite Lock", because of 2nd Mouse’s ability to imaginatively combine classic synth sounds with unusual and unexpected elements, without making it seem forced. Levite takes this a step further in what is an album of both considerable maturity and childish pleasure. Can’t wait for the second twin, "Minerva", to be born on www.sampleoakrecords.com. Play it loud with the lights out.
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About the Author
This article was written on 7.October 2009 by Greg. Greg Healey is a musician/music producer, artist, writer and net-radio presenter living in Cornwall/UK. He releases under the name HealeyIsland on Ann Shenton and Marc Hunter’s White Label Music record label. My His weekly radio show "Analogue Island" focusses on the best in independent music, regardless of style or genre, and can be heard on Penwith Radio, which broadcasts online out of Cornwall. Read more articles written by Greg.