Thurs July 29
1001 SE Morrison
The hoary cliché regarding it being all about the music truly applies to Mice Parade, the five-year-old project of Brooklyn percussionist extraordinaire Adam Pierce. This state of affairs presents serious problems for a writer (not that you care; just laying out the scenario here). Readers want spice, and all I can offer are earnest descriptions about a kind of cerebral mood music that inspires neither dizzying highs nor loathsome lows. So I apologize if this piece comes off as memorable as a Dick Gephardt speech.
Pierce began Mice Parade in 1999, in order to vent his ideas outside the context of the Dylan Group, his collaboration with fellow percussionist Dylan Cristy, who still helps out in Mice Parade. On Mice Parade's second album, Ramda, Pierce plays everything in one take and the tracks sound damn invigorating. It's Tortoise-like post rock, but fueled by a stronger joi de vivre and more affection for exotica's tropical textures and tones, with cascading vibraphones and intensely resonant drones buttressing Pierce's robust, tricky drumming. He's an extraordinary percussionist, capable of rocking steady with indie popsters like the Lilys or Swirlies, launching Nigerian funkathons a la Fela Kuti drummer Tony Allen, or contributing precise marimba patterns to Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians.
With workmanlike determination over four solid albums, Pierce perfected his rhythmically nimble, ambitiously timbred post rock for mature, sophisticated music aficionados. Then, on his fifth and most conventional album, 2004's Obrigado Saudade, Pierce finally misfired. Cloyingly cute murmurings from Múm vocalist Kristin Valtysdottir on two songs and folky guitar strumming throughout the disc lend a sugary coating and laid back blandness to a sound that heretofore had been dynamically syncopated and subtly alien. Still, if Pierce hauls along fellow master sticksmen Doug Scharin (HiM) and Cristy for this show, Portland could be in for a helluva rhythm orgy.