Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma formed Mouse on Mars
in Cologne, Germany, 20 years ago, a span several times the length of the average “electronica” producer’s career. In the 90s the duo served a spell in the taxonomical pokey known as IDM (as did anyone making beat-oriented music that aspired to be more than dance-floor fodder), and though the term has died they’ve remained equally devoted to exploration and fun, making booty-shaking sounds dense with melody, structural development, and ingenious textures. Every single Mouse on Mars record still brings me pleasure, which is more than I can say for most of the music I bought during the heyday of electronica in the late 90s. Last year the group released Parastrophics
(Monkeytown), ending a six-year absence—unless you count their 2007 collaboration with Mark E. Smith of the Fall as Von Sudenfed
is a dense collection of ricocheting bleeps, bulbous melodic blobs, and rubbery, tightly coiled grooves whose aesthetic falls somewhere between J Dilla and Flying Lotus, and it’s as packed with ideas and sonically dynamic as anything in Mouse on Mars’s oeuvre. As befits an album that took five years to make, Parastrophics
feels a bit like the duo were doing some stock taking, but it also sounds fresh, not like a revision of their previous output. Toma and St. Werner finished its follow-up, November’s WOW
, in just a couple months, and understandably it’s sparser, but the same exhilarating restlessness pumps through it. —Peter Margasak Svengalisghost opens.