By Mike Joyce
Friday, March 1, 2013
“Wow,” the latest offering from Mouse on Mars, is in keeping with the pioneering German duo’s earlier work, for it easily hits its quota of synth-triggered jump cuts, percolating interludes and rhythmic eruptions. When everything clicks, the music is unpredictable, unclassifiable and unwaveringly imaginative, and keeps on clicking in its own curious way.
But “Wow” also is brief -- a little more than 30 minutes long -- and apparently something of a dancehall-inspired lark for Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma, who quickly recorded it after finishing their more ambitious 2012 release, “Parastrophics.” All the songs here have cryptic, three-letter titles, and nearly all offer sounds that startle and amuse. But then what would you expect from an inquisitive pair of electronic music vets who fancy phone-app technology and tour with a subsonic wave modulator called a wobbersmug?
There’s no telling what assortment of devices and programming is in play on “Wow.” The duo’s flair for shrewdly referencing vintage British pop electronica, reverberating DJ mixes and sweeping orchestral maneuvers, along with its affection for punk and free jazz, is readily apparent amid the frequent, often jarring transitions.
An occasionally strident edge created by shrieking vocals on tracks such as “SOS” is offset by a disarming sense of whimsy, discovery and genre-blurring adventure. Such lighthearted verve makes the album’s title seem perfectly apt.