Malawi Mouse Boys – Score for a film about Malawi without music from Malawi

Album Review | Self Release | Review by Allan Wilkinson | Stars: 3/5

“If money was available, I could do my best to make everybody in the world happy” – so says one of the musicians in a band so poverty stricken, that their own story could easily be made into a film in its own right. Forced to sell grilled mice on skewers at Malawian roadsides, the four young musicians gathered together a range of homemade instruments, such as knocked together guitars and a drum kit that included a kick drum pedal built from coat hanger wire and an ingenious hi-hat cobbled together from the cog plates from an old bicycle. Despite the band’s Heath Robinson instrumentation, the musicianship shines through, more from determination than anything else. Their usually highly melodic music and chant-like songs featured previously on such releases as He Is #1 (2012), Dirt is Good (2014) and Forever Is 4 You (2016), have been put aside for this project, produced by Ian Brennan, and originally intended for a film soundtrack but never used, made up of sound poems created from found objects such as old beer bottles, broken spokes, water buckets, trapped insects and children’s voices, to name but a few. I don’t for one minute imagine this record will be popped on the player for much enjoyment, but the haunting sounds, just 15 short tracks, one at just 23 seconds long, certainly made me curious enough to look deeper into this incredible story of survival.