Mouse On Mars - Parastrophics

Mischievous, atomised techno pop
Mouse On Mars - Parastrophics
Many pop groups releasing their tenth album would lovingly be gazing at their cruise control. The Beatles had unleashed ‘Yellow Submarine’ in ’69 whilst Jacko opted to celebrate hitting double figures by deploying ‘Invincible’, an ironic last dance of vulnerability played out on the shelves of HMV.

More culturally relevant however we saw German forefathers Kraftwerk come out of a half-decade hiatus in 1986 to release ‘Techno Pop’, an LP that yet again attempted to reconfigure populist electronic music in obsessively futuristic terminology.

After a similarly lengthy break we find Jan Werner and Andi Toma, AKA Mouse On Mars, resolutely treading a similar path. Heirs apparent in their domestic Germany to Kraftwerk, this pair have constantly demanded to occupy fresh ground on which to launch our dancing.

Of their last two albums, ‘Radical Connector’ was brashly poppy and courted the dancefloor, but their latest, ‘Varcharz’, was uncompromising, populated by threatening shards of sound, and was possessed by a violent subtext.

‘Parastrophics’, in a colourful jaunt, unifies these two approaches. It atomises the history of pop music for its own nefarious and fragmental purposes. It’s a landscape of beautiful minutiae, of considered sounds that are collected into a vast collage that grooves well beyond the sum of its parts.

Layering shattered vocals from Dodo Nkishi and Steve Jo along with passing memories of warm populist music, MOM take us to fresh emotional places. But do not expect to be cradled. The pair refuse to pander to our ears; it’s still a challenging voyage through the vaporised soul of Prince, Psapp, Kool Keith and Drexciya.

The type of rap music you’ll be faced with is summed up by the title of ‘Chordblocker, Cinnamon Toasted’, and the body of music doesn’t disappoint as lysergic, schiz-hop ruffles our feathers. ‘They Know Your Name’ is a gloriously sludgy slice of Cologne experimental techno, whilst closer ‘Seaqz’ is good old fashioned face-melting 303 techno aptly demonstrating their ability to kill the old way.

Is it their best? Well, it’s hard to tell: Mouse On Mars’ work has traversed so much ground their reference points are like remote outposts where few other sonic adventurers have travelled. Within ‘Parastrophics’ however they float across pop culture like on skates, stopping to rip open clichés before stuffing in their sonic bogies and glide on. ‘Parastrophics’ is mischievous and atomised techno pop for listeners who think they’ve heard it all.

8/10

Words by MATTHEW BENNETT

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