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Customer Reviews

MICE is NICE

Taking on the concept that music has no boundaries, MICE or Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble is one of those musical experimentations that are not of the result of one person or one band but a collective effort whether it's man, woman, or machine and everything in between. Listening to the first 7 tracks, you'll get earthy and not so earthy soundscapes such as, per my interpretation, crawling desert snakes, chirping birds, and R2D2 squeaks. I really like the space agey 'A'aa. It makes me think I entered the Matrix after taking the red pill.  The second part of the album consists of 8 radio station clips from around the world. I assumed it was recorded while they were on their world tour. You get snippets of channel turning static and radio DJ banter. This collection of World Radio Quily as they called it reminded me of a Jimi Hendrix track, EXP, where Hendrix was doing a mock radio interview about UFO's. So if you are a fan of bands that play in non conventional ways sorta like Toychestra, or The Vegetable Orchestra, MICE deserves to be heard.

MICE is worldwide success

When someone unacquainted with the genre thinks of technosonic or electronic music, they probably tend to think of simply futuristic computer-generated noises and modern sounds composed into a rhythm. However, the Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble (MICE) turns these notions on their head with its creative and unique use of natural sounds to create music with technology. Throughout the album the group strikes a harmonious equilibrium between natural and man-made, modern and traditional, sound and quiet. I will focus in particular on the track “Kanja.” Created using hydrophones placed in the middle of the Indian Ocean, the MICE song “Kanja” uses the soothing sounds of the ocean mixed with a calm electronic beat and soft, infrequent bell tones to convey a sense of calmness, peace, and serenity. The piece begins with the gentle sound of water sloshing and waves rolling across the sea, giving a sound foundation to the track. Next, the soothing electronic metronome begins its rhythmic tones and adds a set pattern to the more sporadic sounds of the water. Finally, we soon hear the first chime of the bell, further layering the beat of the music but not cluttering it so much that the serene simplicity of the original aquatic sound is compromised. As the song continues, the bell chimes seem to become more frequent, and we also hear a plethora of oceanic sounds in the background; you can hear faint sounds of the wind, the rocking of a buoy in the water, and the continued rhythm of the sloshing water. Additionally, about a minute into the song, a new soft, almost crackling beat is added to the mix. While it is by far the least natural sound of the group, the only one that sounds completely man-made, this tone is low enough that it doesn’t detract from the natural symphony of the others. While for the most part this beat’s most noticeable attribute is its very natural sound, it could only be created using technology. The water sounds themselves were captured using hydrophones, and the other beats seem to be for the most part computer-generated. The song seems to involve technology more and more as it goes on; while it initially incorporates just the sound of the water and other natural aquatic noises, the metronome and other electronic elements play a larger part as it progresses. However, the song ends how it began, reverting to the sound of waves and juxtaposing the final multi-layered, modern beat with the simplicity of the sound of water. While “Kanja” definitely has a more modern sound, it also draws upon elements of past electronic music. Carrying on the tradition of instruments like the Aeolian harp, this song uses the sound of nature to produce music; while not the same medium as the wind of the harp, this song nevertheless reflects the original simplicity and natural quality of the first “electronic” music-making devices. However, it also employs a variety of very modern, technological sounds, displaying its roots in more recent musical tools as well. The soothing tone seems to particularly reflect the theremin, which incidentally is also played without contact (just like the hydrophones used by MICE). And of course, the piece also involves the generation of sound by computers, the most modern instrument of all. This song is in some ways similar to other “technosonic” songs, but is also very unique in its own way. It uses the gradual layering of beats and metronome like many others do, but its natural elements are what set it apart. Using its technology to create music from actual nature seems to be this song’s most original element, and what differentiates it from many other technological pieces. Though this is just one of many great songs on the album (particular recommendations are “Sxueak” and “Sandprints”), “Kanja” exemplifies its best attributes and is almost a microcosm of the CD as a whole.

Sandprints

Technosonics, “Techno” Computer Music, I have heard countless names to describe a genre that I thought only existed in the trance clubs of Europe or late night raves somewhere on fraternity row at various colleges across the nation. I had a very narrow view of the genre of technosonics. I already had a perception of what every song was in the genre (sandstorm, sandstorm remix, sandstorm club version, and finally sandstorm radio edit.) That is why when I initially heard “Sand Prints” by MICE world tour I was initially disappointed, but as I began to research the history of the genre, how the song was made, and listened to it several times I began to appreciate the piece.
Surprisingly to me, the history of techno runs much deeper than the advent of the personal computer and electronic instruments have been around much longer than their pop culture popularity in the 80’s. Technosonic music has closely been associated with the Avant Garde. Many songs ignore the conventional thoughts on music and pursue their sounds through more experimental musical methods. “Sand Prints” was a surprise to me because not only did it shatter my thoughts on techno music but it was also a derivation from the “vanilla” form of music I am used to listening to.
The Mice Orchestra in the Namibian Desert recoded “Sand prints” as members collected the natural sounds in a mobile recording studio. Unlike my predisposed thoughts on how techno should be made, this song is made in a very organic fashion. It incorporates the sounds of nature, man, and machine into a rhythmic flow. The movements of the sand are complimented by someone’s whistle to create a strong beat. All sounds are passed through a computer that enhances, adds new sounds, and randomizes the song by the use of computer software. The interesting part about this process is that the computer is just as important in the song making process as the people “playing” the sand or whistling in the background.
When I first heard “Sand Prints” I did not appreciate it for the art that it was. Ill admit it is not a song I will listen to on a daily or probably even a weekly basis, I can say it has an appropriate time to be played. It is not a song for the clubs or the raves. I really enjoy this song while studying. I can listen to it on repeat and throughout the night the unobtrusive sounds and soothing blow of the wind help time melt away and my studying remain on the forefront. The whistles, sand being played, and the wind combine to make a song that my ears consider unorthodox but my musical taste finds it failure.
This song was a fresh add to my musical library. I am glad to have purchased it. It has added a new level of depth to my musical taste. This song appeals to me not only because of the sound but also the process behind creating it. Downloading this song allowed me to research and discover a genre of music that I had gross misinformation on.



MICE World Tour, MICE (Mobile Interactive Computer Ensemble)
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Customer Ratings