The Deal: More percussive magic from anagrammatic Adam Pierce.
The Good: If there's one thing Mice Parade's marvelous catalog shows us, it's how to put drums front-and-center without bashing listeners over the head (that's right, I'm looking at you, Phil Collins). Pierce's records -- mostly solo efforts with visitors -- are obviously more Tortoise than Genesis, but the latest from the ex-Dylan Group percussionist continues his migration towards more recognizable pop-song constructions, yet does so without losing his music's inherent adventurism.
Opener "Sneaky Red" is a drummer's delight, a two-kit attack that also features Doug Scharin (Rex, June of 44). It alternates between explosive electric interludes and laid-back sections accented by tropical-flavored nylon-stringed guitar, a Mice Parade staple. Pierce duets with Stereolab's Laetitia Sadler on "Tales of Las Negras," a maze of sounds highlighted by Album Leaf-like keyboard layers, vibraphone colors and intricate polyrhythmic drum patterns. "The Last Ten Homes," the record's most evocative cut, relies on shifting time signatures and tempos, Benga-like guitar lines, and stacked counter-harmonies to mold its exotic feel. More ambient cuts like "Swing" or "Circle None" may eschew traditional song structure and focus more on processed sounds/textures, but the arrangements are just as enchanting.
The Bad: Mum's Kristin Anna Valtysdottir duets on "Double Dolphins on the Nickel," and her cloying child-like mewl is indistinguishable from a sack of drowning kittens, spoiling the song's Spanish-guitar textures.
The Verdict: You don't have to play drums to enjoy Pierce's unique songwriting -- though you may want to learn how afterward.
Bubble Core; Release date: June 12, 2007