Jan Dukes de Grey
Mice and Rats in the Loft


4.0
excellent

Review

by bnelso55 USER (30 Reviews)
February 26th, 2015 | 17 replies


Release Date: 1971 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An off-the-wall aural pleasure

The 1970s were a veritable playground for mania and mysticism in music. Few records buffer this claim more aptly than Jan Dukes de Grey’s sophomore effort, Mice and Rats in the Loft, one of the era’s more feral and bizarre opuses.

Released in June 1971, a little less than two years after the emergence of the band’s musically competent, yet naïve debut Sorcerers, Mice and Rats… finds the trio embracing more progressive and improvisational leanings as well as a pronounced taste for the deranged.

Drummer Denis Conlan joins multi-instrumentalists Derek Noy and Michael Bairstow on this outing as they careen wildly from genre to genre across three lengthy compositions. His romping rhythms back fervent acoustic guitars, violins and a barrage of countless wind instruments on the colossal opener 'Sun Symphonica', which transitions gracefully between pastoral geniality and grinding orchestral heights throughout its 19 minute duration.

'Call of the Wild' begins in the guise of a slightly more conventional folk style before gradually sinking into thick reverb and darker overtones. An album highlight is the dissonant tremolo-picked riff that appears intermittently in the song’s latter half, mimicking some nascent form of atmospheric black metal. A riotous saxophone solo and a dancing flute overpower it a few times, but it re-emerges to round out the song’s final minute.

Hallucinogenic vocal passages pepper this largely instrumental work, mostly manifesting as melismatic wailings that enliven oddball lyrics (“Kangaroos under your feet…”?). They can require some getting used to, needless to say. The vocals reach their apex in the closing title track as they detail a grisly scene of ritual sacrifice while soaking in a bath of wah-wah-laden guitar.

Comparisons are frequently drawn between Mice and Rats… and Comus’ 1971 debut with good reason. The sinister and unconventional approach to folk music epitomized by First Utterance is certainly discernable here as well. Perhaps, the distinction lies in the accessibility of the music.

Make no mistake, Mice and Rats… plunges confidently into shadowy mayhem on many occasions. However, the groovy wickedness is balanced regularly by numerous moments of playful hippie weirdness, something Comus’ masterpiece never fully explored, even in its sunniest moments.

It’s true that these tracks risk overstaying their welcome in some places. Thankfully, Jan Dukes de Grey manages to skirt many period prog-rock trappings in favor of developing their own brand of violent psychedelic inventiveness. This creativity combined with an unabashed eccentricity makes Mice and Rats in the Loft a world worth exploring again and again.



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user ratings (24)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
bnelso55
February 26th 2015


1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Love this record. Given Sputnik's affinity for prog, I was surprised to see this hadn't been reviewed already.



Full album can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQTO3yAsvr0

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
February 26th 2015


6738 Comments


very nice review, not usually a fan of the shorter blurb-paragraph approach, but this was solid. it'd be cool to see you utilize more insight beyond "the song does this and then does that and then this" approach in the future, even if it is written quite well.

Jethro42
February 26th 2015


15959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad to see this being reviewed. It took me a few listens to appreciate and follow this music. I must say that from the start, my ear was not shaped for such an acid-folk formation, except for Comus' First Utterance which is more digestible than this, for sure.



Great review, pos'd.

bnelso55
February 26th 2015


1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks for the feedback, johnny! I'll give that approach a try. I'm still fairly new to reviewing, so im still trying to find a technique that suits me. Does this need to be re-written, do you think?

bnelso55
February 26th 2015


1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@ jethro- yeah. This definitely takes time to sink in. This music goes all over the place. Glad you found something to enjoy in this. And thanks for the pos. Cheers!

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Emeritus
February 26th 2015


6738 Comments


oh no it's fine as is, your diction is excellent. just, in the future, I think you'd benefit from focusing just a bit less describing the song's layouts in depth and talk about what's good as a whole and make some insights that might make it more fun to read. based on your style, I'd recommend checking out some of Joseph Viney's reviews on here

AnimalsAsSummit
February 26th 2015


4226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

wonderfully whimsical prog; review is on point

Digging: Sweet Trip - Seen/Unseen

bnelso55
February 26th 2015


1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks again, johnny. I'll keep that advice in mind for future reviews. Thanks again for the feedback.

bnelso55
February 26th 2015


1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks animals. This is one of my personal favorites. Some really fun tunes here. I haven't really been able to get into their other records though. This one is kind of the standout, imo.

TwigTW
February 26th 2015


3821 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"their own brand of violent psychedelic inventiveness"--well said. Love this album, don't know of anything else quite like it.

bnelso55
February 26th 2015


1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed, twig. This album is pretty much in a class of its own.

Mad.
February 26th 2015


4780 Comments


Glad this got a review. Still haven't got round to checking it

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2015


11745 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Review brings back the Obscure Prog Tourney vibe, pos.

Digging: Cellar Darling - The Spell

bnelso55
February 26th 2015


1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Mad- I'd say this is definitely worth your time. It's a fun listen.



Cheers, manosg! hopefully the tourney is one day revived. I found a lot of great music while following those lists.

GhandhiLion
February 21st 2017


5912 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is incredibly overlooked.

Digging: mewithoutYou - Catch For Us the Foxes

bnelso55
February 21st 2017


1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For sure. There's really not much else like it.

bnelso55
February 21st 2017


1338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

double post



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