If Mouse On Mars' recent performances of Stockhausen and remixes of Popul Vuh represented Jan St Werner and Andi Toma paying tribute to their Germanic experimental ancestors, then Modeselektor signing them to the Monkeytown label is like Mouse On Mars receiving similar respect from their descendants. The two groups might not bear much resemblance on the surface, but Modeselektor have clearly inherited Mouse On Mars' mischievous humour; turning both preconceptions about "intelligent" dance music—and its po-faced frown—upside down.
However, listening to Mouse On Mars' 11th album in two decades, you can also discern their influence cropping up elsewhere in the six years since their last full-length. A fair proportion of the Brainfeeder and Warp rosters owe a debt to Mouse On Mars' electronic genre-bending; and Parastrophics sometimes seems like the pair presiding over a particularly messy bunfight between Prefuse 73, Plaid, Hudson Mohawke and Flying Lotus.
What this means—particularly for anyone hearing them for the first time—is that Mouse On Mars now occasionally sounds like a hybrid of other artists rather than a unique entity. There's a bit of Modeselektor in the epileptic dancehall bass of "Baku Hipster," and while the cartoon melodies and slide guitars of "Chordblocker, Cinnamon Toasted" disguise the fact they've used a similar ping-pong ball sample to Flying Lotus' "Table Tennis," "Syncropticians" could be modelled completely in his image, an R&B ballad dissolving in Vaseline that might have come straight off Cosmogramma.
That's not to say that Parastrophics doesn't represent another intriguing direction in an elliptical career. If every Mouse On Mars album has had a vague "feel"—fluffy ambient on 1994's Vulvaland, vocal electro-pop on 2004's Radial Connector and aggressive proto-industrial on 2006's Varchaz—then the more pronounced use of vocal samples and some of the rhythmic structures on Parastrophics could make this the "hip-hop" one. If you stretch and twist your definition of hip-hop as crazily as a kid with bubblegum, that is.
To be honest, that's exactly what Mouse On Mars sound like they're doing. The neck-cracking beats and lolloping gait of "Metrotopy" and "Imatch" gives Parastrophics something of a new B-boy bounce, but the album is popping with so many other ideas—from funky electro squiggles to abrasive acid techno—that it often seems fit to burst. Yet even when it appears something like "GearknotCherry" has exploded in their face halfway through, Mouse On Mars suck the scraps back in and spit them back out in new shapes. It's often a mess, but one that's always fun to chew over.
Buy Mouse On Mars - Parastrophics at
Tracklist: Mouse On Mars - Parastrophics 01. The Beach Stop
02. Chordblocker, Cinnamon Toasted
05. They Know Your Name
10. Gearknot Cherry
11. Bruised To Imwimper
12. Baku Hipster