Mouse on Mars | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Mouse on Mars 

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On recent albums German duo Mouse on Mars inserted conventional instruments into their matrix of rubbery, squelchy electronics, emphasizing texture and color and drifting away from their techno roots. But constant aesthetic reconfigurations are a crucial part of their approach, and on Radical Connector (Thrill Jockey) Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma have shifted again, returning to predominantly synthetic sounds, thumping club beats, and pop hooks. Connector is the first of their albums with vocals on every track, and the singing is mostly handled by the group's off-and-on drummer, Dodo Nkishi; more often than not, his voice is vocoderized and chopped up until it's just another blurp in the swarm of oscillator textures. He chants exhortations over a lopsided disco groove on "Wipe That Sound"--a mix that recalls Basement Jaxx--and quietly speak-sings his way through the drifty funk of "Detected Beats." Niobe--an artist signed to Mouse on Mars's Sonig label--handles the remainder of the vocals, which veer from the disco-diva punctuation on the infectiously herky-jerky "Spaceship" to the moody Bjorkisms on "The End." But the focus remains on the electronics, which constantly shatter the grooves and morph the music like computer animations. Opening the show is Canadian duo Junior Boys, whose debut album, Last Exit (Domino/KIN), fuses mopey indie-pop vocals to spare synth melodies and fractured microhouse beats. The songs sound to me like minimal Timbaland remixes of obscure Pet Shop Boys tunes--and that's not a compliment. Ratatat plays second. Friday 29, 9 PM, Logan Square Auditorium, 2539 N. Kedzie, 773-252-6179, $13. All ages.

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