August 08, 2002

Mice Parade "All Roads Lead to Salzburg (New, Live, BBC and Otherwise...)"

At last--a compilation album of material that's more new than old, and the "old" songs are live, improvised numbers. Actually, Mice Parade--who is Adam Pierce and Doug Scharin, with a group of friends--have made a quite beautiful, impressive album from the scraps of recordings they made on their most recent series of tours--but it's not a live album, really. Instead of going the traditional route and releasing an entire show or highlights from a series of shows, Mice Parade have included not only numerous live tracks, but also a few numbers recorded for BBC shows last year, and one or two "experiments" made on a computer that include samples of--but not the entirety of--live recordings.

Not that you could really tell the difference. All Roads Lead to Salzburg genltly flows back and forth, soothing the listener after a hard day at work or, in the case of yours truly, a long drive. What's incredible is how Pierce and company have really tapped into a Durutti Column vibe--and while others have done the same, Mice Parade don't sound like they're stealing anything from Vini Reily. Taking him as inspiration, and moving forward into a sonic space they can call their own, making a sort of space music that's not jazz, new age, or experimental--just soothing. And sometimes soothing's just fine with me.

What really sets Mice Parade apart from their contemporaries comes from the fact that I don't know of any band that prominently features a Cheng, or Chinese Zither. Aside from Modern Jazz Quartet and the aforementioned Durutti Column, I don't know of any band that has made mellow moon-age sounds with beautiful-sounding vibes, harps, and keyboards, or warm, all-natural songs such as "Circle 1" or "One Road Led To Columbia" or, hell, all of All Roads Lead to Salzburg. One of the nicest and easily the most relaxing records I've heard all year.

--Joseph Kyle

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