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Mouse on Mars - Radical Connector

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Artist: Mouse on Mars

Album: Radical Connector

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: Oct. 3, 2004

Perhaps it’s due to their 10th anniversary, but Germany’s Mouse On Mars have never been more festive. Certainly, they have spent the last decade generating tweaked tonalities in a vast array of rhythmic templates, many of which activated sweat glands in addition to thought bubbles. From vaporous cybervoids to dubbed-out downtempo and beyond, Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma have maintained a continuously adjusted balance of e-brain rapture and techy investigation. However, MOM’s recent modalities have begun to morph quite drastically into bouncy pouf. It seems the transformation has at last been completed.

The pair’s latest album, Radical Connector, bumps and pops with such fierceness it may be the emerging tip of a glitch-crunk berg. Boldfacing their blips and opening the mic for every one of the album’s nine tracks, MOM ditch percolation for pump. The voices – supplied by regular MOM drummer Dodo Nkishi and Niobe, an artist on the duo’s own Sonig Records – are garbled by worms of benign malfunction and spat back out in pixelated shards.

Much like Björk’s Medúlla, this year’s other hybrid lung’n’laptop experiment, Radical Connector treats breath as beats and texture. Yet while Iceland’s pixie-shaman incants astral runes, MOM pummel the senses. The funked-up click-through slither of opener “Mine is in Yours” and maxed-out modulations of “Spaceship” brashly announce the duo’s new anabolic approach. “Send Me Shivers,” meanwhile, tracks the same magnetic glide Ellen Allien traffics with her BPitch Control label. Mid-album, “The End” strains for epic skewed-splendor while the brainiac posturing of “Detected Beats” belies MOM’s truly cerebral pedigree. Most often, Nkishi’s elastic intonation channels big time Peter Gabriel and ends up festooning much of Radical Connector’s rumpsteak ruckus in a WOMAD-dad anorak.

With Werner allowed to stream pilled etherea unencumbered in his solo project Lithops and his spin-off venture Microstoria, MOM have been freed, or burdened, to wallop and wow. Yet, even if Radical Connector beckons with a shelf-screaming sheen of freshness, much of its contents are merely the microwaved scraps from Basement Jaxx’s block party. Considering Mouse on Mars’ once lauded ingenuity, it’d be an understatement to call Radical Connector a disappointment.

By Bernardo Rondeau

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