Mouse on Mars is one of the few electronic bands to stand the test of time. Constantly reinventing themselves, they have taken electronica to new heights with a unique blend of sound annihilation, fragmented melodies and an impassioned hatred of conformity. For nearly two deacades, Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner have sweated over burning consoles to create a new musical language, only to twist it again into thousands of myriad distortions.
Mouse On Mars' sound links them to the club-music scene, as do their many remixes and collaborations with members of the dance-music world. Yet their association with the formalized and utilitarian world of dance music is ironic, as the band’s raison d’etre is to place electronic flies in any aural ointment they choose to muck through. A series of 10 albums and numerous remixes has come off as primarily intent on dashing expectations, from the ambient-house ectoplasms of 1994’s Vulvaland and 1995’s slightly more structured Iaora Tahiti; to the flighty and funny electronics, spluttering horns and acoustic-guitar samples of 2000’s more “organic” Niun Niggung; to the forest of sonic porcupine quills that is Idiology. Radical Connector (2004) further granulated the MoM aesthetic into nine vaguely pop-oriented songs, ever heavier on the beats and increasingly hinging the tunes on the vocals and drumming of longtime collaborator Dodo Nkishi. Varcharz (2006) entirely recorded at Mouse on Mars’ St. Martin Ton Studios in Duesseldorf has been their most live sounding and diverse studio album to date. 2012 will see a new Mouse on Mars once again. Their upcoming LP Parastrophics is a thriving vision of the other side of experimental music. Discordance turns into pop as Alice in Wonderland bounces her booty to laser bass sounds, the likes of which would make Walt Disney jealously ponder the question, “Why didn’t I think of that?!” Parastrophics is glamorous, funky and deep. No speakers exist that could display all the details of such manic production.
Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner have been more than busy in the intervening years since the release of their last studio album as a duo, Varcharz (2006). They collaborated with The Fall’s Mark E. Smith as Von Südenfed and released Tromatic Reflexxions on Domino. Both Toma and St. Werner produce independently for their Sonig label. St. Werner has worked on solo records under several monikers, written pieces for classical instrumentation and electronics, did music for installations, and acted as the artistic director of the Amsterdam Institute for Electronic Music, STEIM. Toma has produced Moondog, Stereolab, Junior Boys and The Fall, amongst others.
One of their most recent projects Paeanumnion has been as unique as the rest of their career – an orchestral piece which didn’t play by any of the rules. As St. Werner said, “it was a way for us to carry on being an electronic band, only without electronics”. As ever, he was not being entirely serious. Both Jan and Andi were on stage throughout this hour-long voyage, playing their own digitally-crafted sounds and processing the orchestra at the same time. For this event Mouse on Mars have created their own musical software which they also used for the production of Parastrophics.