Sunday, 4 March 2012

Mouse On Mars - Parastrophics

Of all the knob-twisting, button-tapping, bar-raising duos that have helped maintain electronic's reputation of catchy sounds and thought-provoking structure, German-duo Mouse On Mars are certainly up there amongst the Autechre's, the Plaid's, the LFO's and the like. Jan St. Werner & Andi Toma, the nucleus of nearly two decades of varied outputs, have spanned multitudes of different genres and sub-genres alike - all encompassed in the duo's signifying use of analog sounds and glitchy hopping of rhythm. Six years on from their previous release, 'Varcharz', Mouse on Mars have at last resurfaced with 'Parastrophics', a just-as-glitchy delve into synthesized sound and its surreally-resulting deliverance.

And this is a signature that comes at us immediately in 'The Beach Stop', manic and sharp buzzes of chipped-at retro beats bouncing up and down like some over-excited little kid - a murmur of vocals surfacing as if to bring some calm and collectiveness to this all-over-the-place deliverance. 'Metrotopy', while more calm in its degree of movement, is still as energetic. Here, varying degrees of clobbering drums, sizzling synths and extroverted sequencing comes off like a multi-coloured multi-thickened palette of processed sound. And where 'Wienuss' provides us with this similar mix of rusted texture and widened-parameter of sound, its more balanced structure allows the hopping of drums and synths to come across more attractively and pleasing to the ear.

This mix of conventional structure and unconventional flicker of sound is a theme that runs through 'Parastrophic' with little sign of faltering and/or becoming too indulgent in itself. Whether it be the cleverly thought-out, planned-out timing of its song structures, or the varying yet captivating choice of sound - as is detailed, with quite brightly-lit clarity on 'Syncropticians' - the energy and muster of this record's sound shows no sign of letting go. The album doesn't need any means of simmering down or withdrawing from this sound, because the sound itself isn't one that requires a sense of mustered readiness or conservative caution for what may lay around the next corner. 'Imatch', if one really wanted to call it as such, could be considered the album's least-approachable, least-manic sound on the record, but even this as trust-forward as any glitch-synth tune out there today.

Indeed, the album's latter half takes on a more catchy stop-start approach to its deliverance, but the overall rhythm and control in these multitudes of pitch, isn't exactly something that sounds - and feels - as if it's ready to snap any time soon.

And if anybody needed any proof of the duo's clever appliance of these shapeshifting sounds into something that could be deemed 'catchy', then 'Baku Hipster', the album's penultimate execution of these sounds, is as clear a response you're going to get. Again, the track uses the jibberish of vocals in its layering, but rather than contrasting against the electronics, the voices only amplify the intensity these blips and rustles come across in. The resulting closer, 'Seaqz', as if to amplify this execution of sugary-esque energy, can be described as nothing short of manic and eye-opening.

Even if this marks their tenth studio album, it seems Werner & Toma have not lost their fascinatingly on-key, on-time appliance of heart-thumping, computer-rummaging sounds. But on 'Parastrophics', these almost chaotic and volatile products show no sign of letting off, or for that matter, letting go. It's a fascinating venture into a mechanic that, in places, bites off more than it can chew. But even if the results are indeed hectic and out-of-control, there is no denying the rhythm and timing to these tracks are nothing short of artistic ingenuity.


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