Mouse On Mars, Radical Connector

Philip Sherburne

By Philip Sherburne

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Radical Connector

Mouse On Mars

The title of Mouse On Mars 'newest record works in several ways at once, suggesting not only the way they tie together wildly disparate forms — like musique concrete and R&B — but also how the Cologne duo has managed to thread a wire from its early experiments with ambient sound to a new interest in pop forms. Radical Connector takes all the hallmarks of electronic music at its most "difficult" — abrasive textures, morphed and melted vocal samples, rhythms sourced from digital skips — and fuses them to a sing-along sensibility. (Of course, they're not alone in this: The Clipse's "Grindin'" recently did the same for commercial hip-hop.) Even fans accustomed to the instrumental touches on Idiology may be surprised by the sweeping strings of "Send Me Shivers" (which, in early September, was second only to Steve Earle's "Warrior" on eMusic's Top 20 Songs chart) or the twanging echoes of a countrified Velvet Underground on "Mine Is In Yours." It's impossible not to be caught up in the sweep of vocalist Niobe's delivery, which burns like a blowtorch through layers of effects and processing. In fact, the voice, chopped and looped in stuttering percussive sequences reminiscent of hip-hop beatboxing, or spread out in contrapuntal ribbons shiny with digital texturing, is at the heart of Radical Connector. In their fusion of the human and the machine, Mouse On Mars have managed the most radical connection of all.