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Mice On Stilts - I Am Proud of You CD (album) cover


Mice On Stilts


Crossover Prog

4.11 | 50 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Some ten years ago I was a member of the ProgArchives Crossover Team (yes, to be allowed to be included on PA each band is judged by a committee). We were asked to pass our critical eyes and ears over the somewhat strangely named Mice On Stilts and I was somewhat surprised, nay amazed, to discover they hailed from Auckland. There followed a period of discovery which soon led me to TeMatera Smith and AAA Records, getting involved with the label and turning up at Red Room Studios, and of course catching up with MoS and helping them with the publicity for their debut. I was fortunate enough to catch them in concert quite a bit, and was there the night they supported Yes at the Aotea Centre. However, they were a band in flux, and not everyone who was playing at that time had been on the debut, and there were more changes afoot during and after the recording of Hope For A Mourning, and soon they had disappeared. I was deeply saddened by this state of affairs as Ben Morley (vocals, guitar) had a real presence and knack for producing wonderful songs, and they had caught the ears of the prog scene in a way which was most unusual ? as I write this in 2023, their debut is still the #2 most highly rated NZ release on PA, while Hope is #4. Then, lo and behold, I saw a post on FB raving about their new album which immediately had me contacting Ben to find out what was going on, and here I am now listening to something which is both sublime and majestic.

With seven years since the last album, and a lot of time when the band was non-operational, it is no surprise there have been major changes in the line-up, but Benjamin Morley (vocals, guitars) and Robert Sanders (drums & percussion) are still there, while Tim Burrows (synth) makes an appearance on the album although he is no longer part of the live line-up where Ben and Tim are joined by Andrew Isdale (guitar, piano), Tim Shacklock (bass, cello), Charlie Isdale (saxophone, violin), and Sam Loveridge (violin, guitars). Back in the day Ben described their music as acoustic doom, and while in many ways I could see what he was getting at, that description never really sat well with me, but with this album it makes perfect sense as while it sits across many categories and influences that is exactly what it is. For An Ocean Held Me I said, "in some ways it is early Pink Floyd, Muse, Radiohead, VDGG, Peter Hammill, Roy Harper and others, but mostly it is Mice On Stilts" and that description still holds, yet here with a majesty which is sublime. There is a real use of space in this album, arrangements which feel light yet should be cluttered given their multi-instrumentalist brass and string approach to this style of crossover proressive rock, yet somehow manage to feel both ephemeral and strong as steel at the same time.

This is deep, incredibly so, both musically and lyrically, which is described by Ben as exploring "the growing pains of addiction, sobriety and recovery. From court houses to hospital beds and jail cells to rehab, the album is an introspective offering of redemption." There are times when this is a rock album, others where it is folk or singer songwriter, yet others when it is chamber music or switching into Art Zoyd style avant, and all of this can be heard on the 7 minute plus National Radio which is a sheer delight.

Mice on Stilts are back. Oh boy are they back.

kev rowland | 5/5 |


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