So stereotypically German as to be almost comical, the Düsseldorf duo of Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma supposedly met at a death-metal show and began collaborating on expansive electronic music under the nom de tech Mouse on Mars. The pair’s music, while unabashedly rooted in such krautrock forebears as Kraftwerk and Neu!, wholeheartedly embraces the mindswelling possibilities of modern electronica.
Debuting with the stunning “Frosch” single — a dubby ride through fuzzy, phase-drenched patterns — Mouse on Mars knocked unsuspecting listeners on their ears with Vulvaland. Opening with “Frosch” and continuing through such like-minded sub-grooves as the beautifully washed-out vocals of “Chagrin,” the alarming “Future Dub” and the truly epic “Katang,” Vulvaland offers womb-like comfort through distant echoes of warm, distorted sound.
For their second album, St. Werner and Toma expand the parameters of Mouse on Mars beyond any reasonable hopes and expectations. Although on Vulvaland they paid tribute to the soul of a studio genius with “Die Seele Von Brian Wilson,” they proudly proclaim on Iaora Tahiti that “this record does not sound in mono” and then set off on a stereophonic journey that uses the debut’s trippy dub as a jumping-off point. The album employs such decidedly non-electronic tools as live drums and pedal steel on several tracks, but Iaora Tahiti is far from being a rock record. Still, with several songs clocking in well below five minutes (only the nearly thirteen-minute “Die Innere Orange” approaches the grand scope of Vulvaland‘s pieces), MOM tinkers with its sound in a number of different ways. Gauzy Casiotones (“Kompod”), aboriginal drone (“Papa, Antoine”), the ethereal krautrock nod of “Hallo” and the ambient pop (is that possible?) of “Gocard” all showcase a group completely unafraid to carry the torch of their land’s experimental heritage.