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Mice On Stilts

Crossover Prog

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Mice On Stilts Hope for a Mourning album cover
3.98 | 128 ratings | 5 reviews | 21% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2016

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Khandallah (6:48)
2. Orca (8:10)
3. The Hours (3:44)
4. And We Saw His Needs Through the Casket (6:41)
5. YHWH (7:17)
6. Hope for a Mourning (5:43)
7. Funeral (11:38)
8. Monarch (6:20)

Total Time 56:21

Line-up / Musicians

- Benjamin Morley / vocals, guitar
- Rob Sanders / drums
- Sam Hennessy / viola, cello
- Aaron Longville / saxophone, clarinet, trumpet
- Joseph Jujnovich / effects, backing vocals, guitar
- Brendan Zwaan / piano, keyboards, organ, music, lyrics
- Tim Burrows / bass, acoustic guitar
- Calvin Davidson / synthesizer, saxophone, guitar
- Guy Harrison / trumpet

- Catherine Walker / backing vocals
- Esther Tetlow / backing vocals

Releases information

Label: Aeroplane Music Records
Format: CD, Digital
April 15, 2016

Thanks to mbzr48 for the addition
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Buy MICE ON STILTS Hope for a Mourning Music

MICE ON STILTS Hope for a Mourning ratings distribution

(128 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(21%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

MICE ON STILTS Hope for a Mourning reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars From gorgeous New Zealand, we have a new album from Mice on Stilts, a progressive crossover artist that caught the community's attention with 2014's rather engaging debut 'An Ocean Held Me' and kept us wondering if another gem would be in the cards. Two years later, this sophomore release continues from where they had left off, a mercurial and original take on the crossover style that does not mean that it's the 'poppiest' of genres within the prog spectrum but rather wishes to incorporate a certain sense of accessibility. Ben Morley's has quite a singular flair when it comes to forging his own musical persona, a heady combination of various influences that defy the norm. Firstly, he possesses a voice that is just made for melancholic and heartfelt music, with a definitive yearning for emotional release and lyrical expression. At times, I was reminded of a modern-day Jim Morrison in terms of delivery though not necessarily tone. The musicians he chooses are closer to jazz and chamber, with lots of woodwinds, cellos and violas, way closer to Penguin Caf' Orchestra than your archetypal neo-prog line-up. The heavy use of piano and choir is another lucid clue into the Morley musical psyche, a deliciously intense universe of artistic seduction that deserves to be further noticed by the prog community. This is a major talent, proggers!

The tracks are impressively astute canvases on life, from the sweeping opener 'Kandallah', a piece that really sets the melancholic mood with reflective piano dispositions from the talented Brendan Zwaan and a soaring vocal delivery from Ben Morley, anointed with clever pastoral meanderings and a delicate sense of orchestral structure, swelled by a wall of sound effects that seek to blur the senses.

The splendid 8 minute 'Orca' is a different fish altogether (oops), the acoustic guitar taking the spotlight as Ben navigates the aching whitecaps of his tempestuous soul, Rob Sanders' slick drumming pushing the wavy brass section into an aquatic frenzy. There is a tremendous mid-section that first seeks out ambient paradigms, only to let the sax brave the seas and let the shrill synthesizer scour the sprays. A truly magnificent opus that has cinematographic tendencies as well as immense depth and sonic boom.

'The Hours' is short and sombre, 'a moment on my own' delivered in that fatigued, pillow-infected voice that is sleepy but despondently insistent, wholly minimalist at first with the piano and acoustic guitar in tow. That Jim Morrison impression shines through once again, a door into the past and I see it as rather unmistakable.

The next trio of songs form the core of this amazing piece of work, a trilogy of essence and creative genius, starting off with the 'And We Saw His Needs'', again the piano being the orchestra conductor, decorating the lush arrangement, along with some sensational trumpet work from guest Guy Harrison. When the celestial choir work kicks in, the proverbial jaw has hit the floor, as both Catherine Walker and Esther Tetlow elevate this to unforeseen heights! The resonant Zwaan piano is sheer brilliance, crystalline pearls of reverence and despair, furthered by the persevering choir. The very calm 'YHWH' keeps the agony ongoing, perhaps more soporific and psychedelia- induced at first. The guitars come clanging in rather brutally, slashing and slicing through the clamorous veil of sound, hinting somehow at those 90s bands that specialized in Gothic doom (Swans, Lycia, Black Tape for A Blue Girl, Love Spirals Downwards, His Name is Alive etc'). Again, sheer brilliance! The title track serves as a reversal of mood, very sinewy and obscurely swerving in ambiance, a slick vocal duet between Morley and one of the ladies, spurred on by thrilling brass and jazzy drumming. The agony and the ecstasy is plainly heard and ably expressed as the ethereal mood rolls forward like some grayish cemetery mist, momentarily chilling the senses.

All this impressive music is nothing compared to the magnificence of the incredible 11 minute epic 'Funeral', a fittingly somber reptile of a track full of sorrow and regret, nearly on the threshold of surrender. Ben offers up a heartfelt expanse of emotions that pulls at all the heartstrings, cello, violins and viola in tow. There is a definite Swans feel here, loads of dramatic interface, bellowing brass and furious drumming that swell ultimately into a rather obvious and expected apotheosis, with all musicians involved up to the hilt. A masterpiece of progressive rock music. Amen.

Hard act to follow such genius but so is the butterfly morphing from the caterpillar, as 'Monarch' sets the sun down on another stellar production from a musician that is truly carving out new territories. The song feels like a finale, a bittersweet and yet tender au revoir. This is the perfect lights-out, candles-lit, glass of Cabernet Sauvignon in the goblet type of recording, definitely nocturnal and perhaps even autumn-esque. Truth is the quality is so great that anytime, anywhere and anyway will work fine.

The cover art is once again a winner, deeply melancholic and childlike in its pure sensibility, as if designed to be a prog pastel coloring book. There is no doubt that Steve Wilson is a genial producer, composer and musician but the prog world needs to make some room for Ben Morley and his Mice on Stilts.

5 Courageous Bereavements

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars With their second album release, Mice on Stilts has improved and polished their recorded sound dramatically. The music here sounds like a cross between BON IVER and THE DAVE MATTHEWS BAND merged with the more atmospheric sides of ULVER and TOBY DRIVER. The songwriting is more diverse on this album and each song has far more depth in terms of sound development and exploration. This is the kind of growth and improvement one likes to see from a young band!

1. "Khandallah" (6:50) one of the most powerful album opening songs ever! (15/15)

2. "Orca" (8:10) opens with the first 90 seconds sounding like a nice DAVE MATTHEWS song. A great ULVER-like key change at the three minute mark--and then the awesome shift in which a chorale of voices join in to sing the chorus at the end of the fourth minute. An ambient section of reverse guitar notes gives a brief break before sax-led full-band section reintegrates us with the main motif. Awesome Post Rock-like finale of building sound over a repeating chord progression. (14.25/15)

3. "The Hours" (3:45) a gently picked steel string guitar opens this song before some tinkling piano notes join in as Ben sings with his lower register voice mixed quite forward of the guitar and piano. Definitely more of a folk song. (8/10)

4. "And We Saw His Needs Through The Casket" (6:43) opens with solo piano establishing a gorgeous albeit haunting and depressing song foundation. It sounds almost classical. Ben starts to sing toward the end of the first minute in a very deep, almost Tom Waits-like voice. Multiple voices and horns join in for the second verse. The lead vocal is amazing with its emotion and intent but then add in the choral voices as And then at the four minute mark the song shifts completely with upper octave shifting piano dyads, bass and guitar chords providing the new base for an all-chorale lead. Powerful and amazing! Simply has to be heard in order to understand! (14.25/15)

5. "YHWH" (7:20) opens as a quite, delicate guitar-based song before going full "metal" around the one minute mark with loud, sustained distorted electric guitar strums. This reminds me of KAYO DOT or OCEANSIZE! Especially with its sparse vocals and predominantly instrumental nature. (13.5/15)

6. "Hope For A Mourning" (6:40) The finish is very GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR-like in its orchestrated feel but then finishes with--surprise!--almost a full minute of silence allowed at the end of the song. (13.5/15)

7. "Funeral" (11:40) A wonderfully paced song in which the music and vocal and story are perfectly matched in telling this very emotional story. Reminds me a lot of sound and feel from the debut STARSABOUT album also reviewed on this page as well as some of THE CURE's more emotional music on "Disintegration" and after. A perfect song and probably my favorite on this amazing and excellent album. (20/20)

8. "Monarch" (6:20) simple, soft, spacious, atmospheric, yet amazingly melodic and emotional, this is an awesome ULVER or TALK TALK like song and a perfect ending to this beautiful and amazingly emotional journey! Thank you, Benjamin! This is exactly what music--or any art--in it's most perfect form should do! (10/10)

Total Time 56:21

What makes this album so exciting, so masterful, is the numerous "unexpecteds": unexpected key or chord changes, unexpected dynamic shifts, unexpected instrumental uses or shifts, unexpected vocal stylings, unexpected recording techniques, and, of course, unexpected lyrical directions. So refreshing and often flamboyantly breathtaking! How weird is it that the shortest and simplest song is the "worst"?!!

Five stars; an undeniable masterpiece of progressive rock music.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Hope for a Mourning is an album that superbly mixes alternative elements with prog to form beautiful yet powerful songs that provide for some very sad and emotional moments. The single, and the opener of the album, Khandallah, is such a beautiful song with great lyrics, vocals, and piano that incorp ... (read more)

Report this review (#1635685) | Posted by piccolomini | Tuesday, October 25, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have decided to write a short review to support the work of NZ band Mice on Stilts. I love prog and have realised that I am not in the best place in the world to experience my passion, except from a distance. Well, I have to say these guys should open the ears of many a Kiwi and should be a must l ... (read more)

Report this review (#1555632) | Posted by shaunch | Monday, April 25, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Review originally written for and It's been over two years since I first met Mice on Stilts. I was 17, and it was out at a local festival, a fundraiser for the local primary school, out in the vast expanses of Northland, New Zealand. Bein ... (read more)

Report this review (#1554314) | Posted by Gallifrey | Thursday, April 21, 2016 | Review Permanlink

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