Mouse on Mars
Selected by Dan Grunebaum
|Don' call us "pop"
Since the late '70s,
electronic music in Japan has been deeply influenced by the musical experimentation
underway in Germany. This can be seen recently not only in the hero's welcome given to
Kraftwerk in their 1998 Japan tour, but also in the influence of latter-day DJs such as
Westbam and Sven Vath on the work of Denki Groove and other Japanese dance acts.
In May, the current flag-bearers of German experimentalism, Mouse on Mars, return to Tokyo
after a one-year absence for a gig at Club Quattro in Shibuya. In light of last year's
performance, the band's winning combination of cerebral, computer-generated music and a
live drum'n'bass rhythm section should make the show one of the spring's best.
Birthed in 1993 when Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner met at a death metal concert in Germany,
Mouse on Mars began where early Krautrockers like Kraftwerk and Can left off, updating
their electronic experiments with the latest digital technologies. But refusing to be
limited to electronica, Mouse on Mars also threw in a hodgepodge of sounds ranging from
indie rock to jazz to ambient.
After a demo tape found its way to London-based Too Pure records, Mouse on Mars debuted
with Vulvaland in 1994, following it up with Iaora Tahiti in 1995. The group
at this time caught the ear of legendary US producer Rick Rubin, who promptly reissued
both albums, introducing them to an American audience.
Launching their own label, Sonig, in 1997, Mouse on Mars released two further albums, Instrumentals
and Autoditacker the same year, Glam in 1998 and Niun Niggung in '99.
Building sales via word of mouth, Mouse on Mars became darlings of avant-garde scenes
worldwide, and soon after began to tour Japan.
In a 1999 visit, they answered some questions put to them by Japanese music magazine Ele-king,
which was defending attempts to stylistically pigeon-hole the band as German electro-pop.
"The label pop immediately authorizes all attempts to avoid further musical research.
We would like to use music to explore possibilities. The results it produces are not worth
The upcoming visit will also serve to introduce Mouse on Mars' forthcoming album, Idiology,
due out at the end of April. Fellow German experimentalists Oval and Vert will also
perform. Mouse on Mars members and fellow label members will further participate in a
Sonig Night event at Aoyama Cay on May 11.
on Mars play Club Quattro on May 10. See
listings for details.