Mouse On Mars, Instrumentals

Philip Sherburne

By Philip Sherburne

on 04.22.11 in Reviews


Mouse On Mars

Mouse on Mars have certainly proved one of the most adaptable acts in the underground pop landscape — a category which describes a band equally rooted in Krautrock and dance music far better than merely "electronic" or "experimental." Though perhaps "adaptable" isn't the word, as Mouse on Mars have never evolved to fit any discernible external influences; they've certainly never done anything like heed the prevailing winds of the pop marketplace. They've simply remained a profoundly mutable project, but always with an immutable core. It's never been possible to pin down Mouse on Mars to a particular sound — not even within the space of a single album. Still, there is a discernible arc in the progression of the band's albums, allowing listeners to tease out distinct phases in which various of Mouse on Mars 'interests become particularly clear.

More gloopy tone clusters and saggy glissandi from your two favorite Germans.

The duo's two mid-period records Glam and Instrumentals, both dating from 1997, might almost be taken as a side project for the group, given the way they constitute a sort of eddy of calm between the group's more exuberant early and recent periods. (This impression is reinforced by the fact that they come closest to the oblique sounds of Microstoria and Lithops, Jan St. Werner's side projects.)

"Auto Orchestra," which opens Instrumentals, sounds like it's scored for a chorus of balloons being erotically fondled, and it sets the tone for this period's weirdly grabass approach, kneading at the underbelly of tones grown soggy with their own resonance. Both of these albums, comprised principally of gloopy tone clusters and saggy glissandi, feel a bit like a butcher harvesting the last and blackest bits of offal from a beast his apprentice has left lazily unfinished. Even the rare uptempo track, like the spry "Owai," seems to find its funk in marrowy ooze and cracking cartilage.