Wednesday, February 7, 2001

Sharp punch lines

Posted By on Wed, Feb 7, 2001 at 12:00 AM

In the grand scheme of things, Mouse on Mars is probably one of the most important musical outfits to which you should turn your cerebral attention. Amid all the clutter and confusion of our world of sound, the duo has somehow, some way managed to consistently create accurate sound tracks that marry the exterior, electronic space junk of our sonic surroundings with the interior logic and sense of wonder that has to digest them 24-7-365.

That aside, and on to the specifics of the music at hand, the CD rerelease of Mouse on Mars’ brilliant 1997 Instrumentals album (there I go again, tipping my critical hand), does a lot of things that experimental electronic music gets criticized (mostly by rock Neanderthals) for neglecting to do. It’s a very “human” feeling record (whatever that means). It is, at times, all warm and fuzzy. It’s often playful to the point of being — in its own abstract way — funny. It’s funky. And, best of all, the sounds that MoM’s principals Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma throw around like they’re hard-earned cash to be spent frivolously are both urban and transcend geography. It is possible, after all, to make processed sounds and not have them sound, er, “processed.” For a couple of Northern German fellas who dabble in some pretty opaque circles (St. Werner has a side project with Marcus Popp of sonic reconstructionists Oval, for example), the two sound like they’re having a damn good time. Conjuring Georgio Moroder and coaxing him into scoring a late-’70s B-grade sci-fi flick while sipping Coca-Colas, they play video games and tell jokes that have punch lines in a foreign language no one’s learned, but are hilarious just for the telling alone.

Or something like that.

Seven compositions, not a dud in the bunch and one of the most mind-bending times you can spend without getting paranoid.

E-mail Chris Handyside at


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