Posted on July 24th, 2012 (11:13 am) by Anthony Gonzalez

Electro-Acousitc sounds like such an awesome genre. New Mexico based Silvermouse attempts to explore what this genre means in their newest album Space Country, recorded live during a live show in a coffee shop in Albequerque. There’s more genre-mashing going on than the tag electro-acoustic lets on. Silvermouse’s sound is somewhere in between trance and freestyle psychedelic rock. Space Country explores some interesting musical realms, but its live format does not transfer as well into an album format.

For a duo, Justin Handley and Miss Jojo accomplish a lot. There’s a rather wide range of sounds coming from the recording, and the sonic space they create is rather impressive for just two people. Handley handles most of the traditional instrumentation such as guitar, flute, mandolin, and violin while Miss Jojo creates the electronic beats. Being a live recording, the eleven tracks featured on the album are arbitrary; they only exist as a way to divide the piece into smaller digestible chunks. Space Country is meant to be listened to straight through, all in one go. When approaching the album, it is important to remember that this is meant to be one piece of music. Keeping this in mind, Space Country is an approximately eighty-four minute long mindfuck of an album.

While individual track divisions are meant to be ignored, the divisions do mark musical shifts. “Fingerlickin’” is dominated by a flowing mandolin put through a gauntlet of effects. As "Fingerlickin’" transfers into “Pear Tree,” Miss Jojo’s beat shifts slightly and an electric guitar takes over, providing a more crunchy sound. Following song, “Surge,” shifts its beat a little again, and replaces its electric guitar with a violin. Getting the idea yet? The album follows a similar pattern the rest of the way through, with a slightly tweaked beat and a different instrument improvising over it.

The nine and a half minute “Ziggy and Me” begins with a rather annoying vocal sample looped for about a minute before awkwardly cutting out. Throughout the song, an electric guitar noodles away in the background, at times hitting some respectable runs, but most of the time sounding as if the guitarist is running out of ideas as he improvises. Handley’s guitar is a problem throughout the album: while there’s no doubt the dude can play, there are times that it sounds as if he doesn’t know what to do within the space he’s given. Perhaps it’s just a result of the live improvisational atmosphere Silvermouse hopes to present. The entire experience is rather trance-like. Taken all at once, the music can be a bit of a trip. Yet, the trip we’re taken on doesn’t change that much at all throughout.

The album’s live format is both a positive and a negative.The entire piece has a very improvised feel to it; the flutes, electronics, guitar, everything feels improvised. Improvisation, when used expertly, can produce some rather profound effects, but here on Space Country, it leaves the listener a bit empty handed. Space Country sounds like a jam session. It sounds like something that you’d listen to someone create in their living room as they played around. There are moments where Handley's solo's get a little out of control and feel forced, leaving the song standing only on one leg. That’s not to say that everything heard on the album is bad. There are moments where Silvermouse hits a real groove, and their composition really begins to show itself.

Space Country sounds like an album that would be best heard live, with big speakers, a large crowd of people, and plenty of psychedelics. While impressive at times, Space Country starts to become dull before the end. This is forgivable since this is a live recording of a show; some mistakes will be made, and some ideas will be explored. It would be very interesting to see what Silvermouse could do with in a studio with their ideas, but for now, Space Country is being given away for free on the bands website, so I guess we can't complain too much.

Track List:
1. Bump Town
2. Fingerlickin'
3. The Pear Tree
4. Surge
5. Siesta
6. Sunshine
7. Numbers
8. Milk Rain
9. Ziggy and Me
10. A Greyhound Saved My Life
11. Desert Fly

Silvermouse- Space Country
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

62 / 100
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