Mouse On Mars, Varcharz
German electronic experimenters unfurl a dazzling encyclopedia of sound palettes.
It's brain-stretching time for all you lateral thinkers: Mouse on Mars, Andi Toma (from Cologne) and Jan St. Werner (from Dusseldorf), have been pursuing an idiosyncratic synthesis of Krautrock and post-Darmstadt experimentalism since they teamed up in 1983, from their debut album Vulvaland to the Live04 in-concert set. Now Varcharz throws down a fresh set of challenges. The tracks barely deign to hint at anything resembling pop — the high-stepping syncopations and snippy cross-cutting of "Bertney" come closest — as the duo unfurl a dazzling encyclopedia of sound palettes and aural techniques. "Duul," presumably a nod to Munich's seminal Amon Duul, is like being trapped in a roomful of loud, clattering machinery, while the blizzard of rhythmic and sonic effects in "Inocular" is so dense that it creates a kind of audio white-out. "Skik" unexpectedly unlocks a pristine world of whimsical, sparkling electronica, while "One Day, Not Today" teases the ear with sensuous wisps of sound before succumbing to a rising tide of chaos. It's demanding, but fascinating.