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 being categorized."

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.

Mouse on Mars play Club Quattro on May 10. See listings for details.

Concert Listings
394: Regurgitator
393: Art Garfunkel


392: Belle and Sebastian
391: Super Furry Animals
390: Ben Folds
389: Elton John
388: Dido
387: Papa Roach
386: Beast Feast 2001
385: Summersonic
384: David Sylvian
383: Maxi Priest & Big Mountain
382: Fuji Rock Festival 01
381: Roxy Music
380: Bo Diddley
379: John McLaughlin & Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti
378: Paul Weller
377: Coolio
376: Backyard Babies
375: Marcus Miller
374: Black Crowes
373: Megadeath
372: Dionne Warwick
371: Arrested Development
370: Mouse on Mars
369: Duran Duran
368: Linkin Park
367: Maceo Parker
366: Japan Blues Carnival 2001
365: Ben Harper
364: Cheap Trick
363: Stephen Malkmus
362: Mogwai
361: Weezer
360: Marilyn Manson
359: Green Day
358: AC/DC
357: Richard Thompson
356: Bob Dylan
355: J. Mascis
354: Leigh Stephen Kenny
352/3: Limp Bizkit
351: Boyz II Men
350: Reef
349: Park Tower Blues Festival
348: Roni Size
347: Compay Segundo
346: Incognito
345: Jimmy Page and The Black Crowes
344: Bad Religion
343: Japan Soul Festival 2000
342: Rocktober 2000
341: Richard Ashcroft
340: Motorhead
339: Festival Halou
338: Ricky Martin
337: Taj Mahal
336: Asian Dub Foundation
335: Lou Reed
334: Earth, Wind & Fire
333: Sting
332: No Doubt
331: Camel
330: Fuji Rock: Smash Talks
329: Summer Sonic
328: Mt. Fuju Aid 2000
327: Salif Keita
326: Buena Vista Social Club
325: Bill Frisell
324: Maxi Priest
323: Lenine
322: Rage Against the Machine
321: Tommy Flanagan Trio
320: Smashing Pumpkins
319: Pet Shop Boys
318: Japan Blues Carnival
317: Gipsy Kings
316: Steely Dan
315: Pshish
314: Big Night Out
313: Femi Kuti and the Positive Force
312: Harry Connick Jr.
311: Sonny Rollins
310: Speech
309: Santana