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Aragon - Mouse CD (album) cover





3.06 | 67 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Next please

Many years in the making, Aragon's Mouse finally appeared in 1995. This lengthy conceptual album in eight 'acts' had already been discussed by the band as early as straight after the release of their debut album in the late 80's. Due to pressure from fans and record companies, they decided to release act five of Mouse separately in 1992 as The Meeting even though the whole was far from finished. The original 1995 version of Mouse did not include the previously released act five, but a re-mastered re-release appeared in 1999 that contains all eight acts (as well as new art work, the story of Mouse and an audio interview with the band about the making of the album). As I have rated The Meeting tracks already (with three stars), I will concentrate on the rest of Mouse here.

My first impression of this album was that it was fragmentary and disjointed. Many of the tracks are very short and intended to function as link pieces. The problem is that there is not much for them to link to! Many passages feel like transportation and this reviewer's opinion is that there is just too much of that. Excluding the (very good and) previously released The Meeting tracks, there are not that many 'full-fledged' songs on Mouse. Having that said there are some good moments here also, but generally they are too few and too far between. Maybe there was a conflict between two very different objectives; that of telling the story, on the one hand, and that of making good music, on the other. Both the story and the music seem to have suffered as a result. There is certainly a shortage of memorable melodies.

Some spoken word passages seem out of place and distract from the flow of the album, rather than enhance it. As I mentioned above, the booklet (of the 1999 double CD version that I have) features the story of Mouse, but to be honest I have not managed to get through it. In the bonus interview on disc two, it is mentioned that the story is a layered one about (1) life in general, (2) about a character called Mouse and (3) about the history of the band! Maybe they just bit off more than they could chew?

Musically, Mouse is clearly inspired by Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway. There is even a track called The Waiting Room (but there is no further connection between the two tracks as this one is just a short piece of pointless dialogue). Aragon do have their own approach but I think that it came to its right much better on both some earlier and some later releases of theirs. While the 1999 re-release of Mouse is now (I suppose) the best and easiest way to get hold of The Meeting (act five), which is well worth hearing, I cannot give Mouse as a whole more than two stars. If you have The Meeting already as a standalone release, this overblown concept album is recommended for you only if you are a fan or collector.

As a side note, I can mention that the artwork (which is different from the one displayed here on PA, which I suppose is the original 1995 artwork) reflects the band's Australian origin. It features a photograph that (I suppose) was taken somewhere in the red Australian dessert.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |


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