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un-demanding

Mouse Blood

Mouse Blood was intended to be Theatre of Ice's final offering as brothers Brent and John Johnson moved to Utah, Eric moved to Georgia, and Mark moved to Connecticut to attend different universities. Labeled as "A limited edition sampling of the works of Theatre of Ice as chosen by friends who hate the band" it included songs from their first three albums as well as a few new releases. The album, however, was heralded by the music press as one of the most innovative albums of the decade..

Musicians

  • Brent Johnson - Vocals, Guitars & Effects
  • John Johnson - Guitar, Synthesizer & Keyboards
  • Mark Johnson - Drums & Things
  • Eric Johnson - Guitar, Continuity

Track listing

  1. It's All Over Now
  2. Driven
  3. Fox
  4. Just Let It Go
  5. A Cool Dark Place To Die
  6. The Burning Man
  7. The Last
  8. Starlight Drive
  9. Watch The Skies
  10. Chill Factor
  11. In The Burning Church
  12. One Two
  13. From the Ruins of my Mind
  14. Miron
  15. Beneath the Stones
  16. Life is a Circus

Reviews

  • Alternative Press - If you’ve whipped through the art, music and poetry circles of New York City lately, you’ve probably caught wind that afoot the downtown scene is a new spirit of romanticism. The phrase “new romanticism” may strike the quick and dirty mind as meaningless hype, but this contemporary version, owing as much to Blake and Shelley as to Budd and Eno, means that the content of any given expression again reflects an excessive, highly self-conscious moodiness, the result of man’s separation from nature and the beast. Today’s creative spirits are, in fact, seeking both meaning and hype where ever they may find it, whether that be un demanding theories of the sublime or in the narcotizing traps of mass media. Theatre of Ice is the most innovative band working in the United States to deepen the meaning of gothic horror rock. The brothers Johnson have produced a remarkable limited edition album called Mouse Blood, a sampling of works “as chosen by friends who hate the band.” Coming from the west, Theatre of Ice senses the power of the death wish, and Mouse Blood bears the marking of the brothers Johnson former hometown, Fallon, Nevada – the site of a massive animal burial ground. Most reviewers tend to accentuate campy, grade b horror elements as the stuff of Theatre of Ice. But the band’s hunger for content is far deeper than kitsch. Think of Poe’s Black cat as a reference point for Mouse Blood. As in Poe the suggestion of insanity always lays close to a formal artistic surface. Imagine Poe living in the contemporary family, and then you’ll since how Mouse Blood flows through the dark night of domestic horror. When a baby mouse crawled slowly across my living room floor recently I struck its head with a hammer, wiped the wall and realized that Mouse Blood plays on notions other than the sick and the tasteless. Theatre of Ice is in full control of concepts, influences and instruments on this fine album which focuses on pain, cruelty, death, and terror. Also evident is a good sense of humor that tilts toward gothic parody with ambient sounds. Simple pop lyrics about where to go are saturated in the echo chamber. At times the sound and structure of psychedelic pop is dragged and muffled to good effect. Transitions between songs flow nicely with effective tape effects. Dissonant rock elements, such as rolling percussion and crashing cymbals, and wailing guitars are embedded within strong, obsessive emotions. One reference point for the band’s progressive rock credentials is established with great guitar work, in a manner of, say, Fripp on Eno’s Before And After Science. There’s a deep regard for particulars of a pop eschatology in Theatre of Ice’s vision of wildlife and the sexual life heard in a song such as "Fox". In a formal sense, Mouse Blood unwinds from a great American vision of animal flesh ravaged by insane youth. At each deadly curve on the journey Theatre of Ice deliberately paces its music so that the whole album moves, both musically and conceptually, with the listener. Theatre of Ice sounds far more uncompromising than Bauhaus or The Cure in the search for the sublime within the dark hidden regions of themselves. What stands revealed in Mouse Blood is the core connection between gothic rock and American Romanticism. Theatre of Ice is concerned not only with the geography of the soul but that of the American West. In this sense, their songs of premature burial take on a deep suggestiveness. The formal horror of Theatre of Ice is nothing less than the bizarre horror of the American West – a land of nuclear test sites, animal carcass dumps, and Mormon catacombs. -- Bag Worm.
  • Sporadic Droolings - Of all the experimental bands I've heard, Theatre of Ice is undoubtedly one of my favorite and certainly on of the most interesting. This makes all previous horror rock efforts sound like the Bay City Rollers. Superb packaging on the these (lyric booklets with each, laminated fold-outs...) and if this stuff does not give you the slightest willies as you listen in a pitch black room you must be a genuine creep (like a child molester or something like that). What this band seems to do is take traditional rock structures, and in some cases even poppy melodies and chord progressions and use and abuse them until they meet a sort of demented standard. What you receive is a thoroughly flaked-out listening experience where there is no possible way you know what is going to pop out of the next Jack-in-the-box. Thorough incorporation of insanely haunting background effects that prove to be quite the horror film soundtrack. But it'd surely have to be a top-notch scare flick. Johnson Brothers two are this era's Hudson Brothers or maybe even Allman Brothers. Utterly and quasi-insanely intense and hypnotizing maybe. A Cool Dark Place To Die is their latest release of morbidly motivated meanderings. Mouse Blood is a compilation of their first three albums (selected cuts as chosen by friends who hate the band). I'm impressed. Nearly an hour of pleasurable terror. You had best be ready for this one boys and girls!.
  • OPtion Magazine, Los Angeles - A sampling of four years of activity that shows Theatre of Ice to be above average purveyors of gloom rock. Titles like "A Cool Dark Place to Die" and "From The Ruins Of My Mind" should give you some idea of their lyrics' bent, usually sung with lots of echo. The music has plenty of guitar and organ (synthesizer?) over a recognizable pulse that is often slowly paced despite a few uptempo pieces. -- Lang Thompson.
  • Gajoob, Utah - This album is a compilation of the songs of Theatre of Ice's earlier releases, "as chosen by haters of the band". Even though it is a compilation it seems much more focused than their first two albums... at least musically. The brothers Johnson have created an admittedly demented album that is, however, accessible in style and structure. This would be a good starting point to those who have yet to explore the shadowy reaches this band chooses to habitate.
  • Alternative Punk Revue, Canada - This is a limited edition sampling of the works of Theatre of Ice as chosen by haters of the band. This electro-psychedelic music seems to come from some haunted cemetery, somewhere... Visit at your own risk.
  • N D, Texas - A sampling of tracks and some unreleased ones as well from 1982 to 1985. Excellent sound the whole way through. Sort of like a cult movie soundtrack. Good overview and great to listen to with all the lights out. Could be a good soundtrack for Andy Milligan's The Rats are Coming. Really love the range of sound and effects. Really beautiful in parts and the way it flows from track to track.
  • Sound Choice - Four members (are they brothers?...is one a drum machine?) present a "limited edition sampling of the works of Theatre of Ice as chosen by haters of the band". Material is culled from three albums and unreleased sources of Theatre of Ice's dark, haunting music which they've created with fuzzed and echoed guitars, vocal, keyboards and the aforementioned drum machine. Bits of Psyclones (fuzz guitar/drum machine). Bauhaus (Gothic gloom), early Tuxedomoon and even a little of The Residents style insanity pop up all over this tape of slightly campy but fun music. – Lawrence Crane
  • Factsheet Five - This is a retrospective album composed of material from Theatre of Ice past releases, and serves as an excellent introduction to this horror rock band. Personal favorites include the guitar-laden, upbeat "Miron" – sort of Beach Boys gone Gothic – and "A Cool Dark Place to Die", title cut from their previous album, which is not for the easily depressed. – MG

Notes

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