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Jan Dukes De Grey - Mice And Rats In The Loft CD (album) cover

MICE AND RATS IN THE LOFT

Jan Dukes De Grey

 

Prog Folk

4.21 | 203 ratings

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ALotOfBottle
5 stars In 1968, Jan Dukes De Grey was formed in Leeds as a duo consisting of a wind player Michael Bairstow and a guitarist and vocalist Derek Noy. The two quickly made a name for themselves in the English folk underground. By the end of 1969, their debut album Sorcerers was released and they were soon joined by a drummer Denis Conlan. The band got a chance to open for acts such as Pink Floyd and The Who. In 1971, the trio recorded Mice And Rats In The Loft, released on the Transatlantic label.

The band's second release, Mice And Rats In The Loft consists of three tracks. The album starts out with the side-long epic "Sun Symphonica", which highlights all basic ingredients that contribute to the album's unique sound. The feel of the track is very ominous and every instrument has its very own part there. Side B features two pieces: "Call Of The Wild" and the title track "Mice And Rats In The Loft". The songs are very diverse without becoming inconsistent.

The music of Jan Dukes De Grey comprises influences of English folk music, root blues, and contemporary acid folk with psychedelic coloring. One can also notice Indian music influences, which give the release a trippy, trance-like feel. The mood of Mice And Rats In The Loft is dark and sinister. Common comparisons to Comus' First Utterance are very much justified, as both albums share stylistic similarities. However, Jan Dukes De Grey's sound is less structured and relies heavily on free-form improvisation. In fact, strong emphasis put on lengthy improvisational passages gives this album a very distinct quality.

Michael Bairstow handles all wind instruments, including a flute, a clarinet, a saxophone, a trumpet, a mouth harp as well as keyboards and some percussion. He proves to be a very proficient and a versatile musician with stylistic abilities ranging from the pagan-sounding flute to the jazzy trumpet to the middle-east-influenced clarinet. Derek Noy plays all guitars. These mainly include an electric 12-string guitar, but acoustic guitars are not uncommon, either. His performance is very experimental, the guitarist is capable of wild, dissonant, exotic-sounding solos as well as more traditional folk guitar play. Where needed, he also provides bass parts, again very proficiently. His vocals possess a dark timbre, which fits for the band's musical nature well. Denis Conlan's drumming keeps up with the band's lively and dynamic style. Jan Dukes De Grey were definitely very competent, accomplished, and experienced mavericks. The lyrical aspect of the album is really hair-rising, often giving the impression of being written by a madman. Although not noted in the liner notes, the album also features violins, whose sound owes a great deal to traditional folk music.

Jan Dukes De Grey's Mice And Rats In The Loft, did not enjoy much success. For many years, the group remained a fairly obscure act. It wasn't until many years later that the album was recognized as a masterpiece. The overall feel of the album is very eccentric and unconventional, the band's sound unique and distinct. Highly recommended! Five stars!

ALotOfBottle | 5/5 |

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