As "Equation Of Time" playfully, precisely and very cleverly morphs between reggae lilt, cool jazz and '60s spy movie soundtrack (all heard through a distorting vortex of bad drugs and dub effects), you can't help but (yet again) reach for that obvious comparison. The next track, "(La Voz) Tan Tierna," opens with a snatched piece of Spanish dialogue. But of course.
It is worth stressing, however, that this is not a case of Gretschmann lazily copying Jaar. As a member of glitchy, experimental indie outfit The Notwist and the sporadically sensational electro-popper Console ("14 Zero Zero" was an electroclash-era classic), Gretschmann was already working in these areas way back when Jaar was still playing Power Rangers at school. Gretschmann has been switching-up tempos, toying with dinky bleeps and strangulated samples, producing edits of Johnny Cash and generally discombobulating clubbers as Acid Pauli since 2003.
The fundamental problem with Mst is not that it sounds like someone else, but that these ten tracks rarely match the profound emotional gravitas of that significant other. At February's Clown & Sunset showcase in London, there was something exhilarating about hearing Gretschmann play music so fragile and counter-intuitive in such a big space (The Roundhouse) to several thousand people. It was as if he had taken all the provocative entropy and repetitiveness of mid-period minimal techno and then retro-fitted it, not with rote electronics, but with a less cool, more human sonic tapestry. It sounded...edgy.
Mst, though, lacks that impact. Despite its 42 minutes and initially sounding like an interesting knot to unravel, it ultimately feels slight. The shorter tracks, "Palomitastep" and "Mutron Melody," are jolly vignettes, not a million miles from Mr Scruff or Lemon Jelly. They're likeable, but offer nothing revelatory to anyone with a working knowledge of late '90s trip-hop. As for the more substantial tracks, several flatter to deceive. They're interesting but stubbornly refuse to stick in the memory.
Only in the album's opener, "Open" (a florid Bjork-ish interlude of plucked, tumbling harp) and then in the albums closing tracks, "Eulogy for Eunice" (a rotating carousel of Satie-esque pianos) and "Close" (think a chopped 'n' screwed Chewbacca lamenting a dead lover over pretty electronica) does Mst achieve a satisfying seriousness. Finally, it resonates, feeling more like another chapter in Gretschmann's story, rather than a Clown & Sunset family curio for hardcore Jaar-heads.