Record label: Thrill Jockey
Format: LP/CD
Release date: April 2001

For almost ten years, Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma have performed as Mouse On Mars, a German duo that has consistently gone against the grain of their electronic music contemporaries and raised the standards in their craft. I've been curious about them for years, but their last album (Niun Niggung) made me a believer. They get lumped in with the IDM crowd often, but they are much more than a series of glitches, clicks, and digital errors. Every genre they touch is forever marked with their stamp of originality - there is absolutely no one else out there that sounds like them. *Idiology* continues their adventurous path of musical exploration, sounding frighteningly independent even in their most "accessible" moments (what is "accessible" for them would mean harmonic suicide for anyone else).

Consider the first single, "Actionist Respoke," which kicks off the album with warped techno, twisted vocals from Dodo Nkishi, and lyrics from self-analysis sessions ("I is just what you say you to / I am convinced the term I the self is idiological and can be dispensed with"). Or the assembly line groove of "Do It," as robots pound out beats in a sauce of fractured dub reggae with tech house on the side. And the ride can get downright scary when Werner and Toma go to extremes. "Introduce" is one of the most diabolical downtempo tracks you'll hear all year, and "First: Break" reveals what you get when you cross Bogdan Raczynski with Squarepusher. Yet for all of their wonderfully manic moments, *Idiology* shows an increased interest in orchestral pop. A wall of woodwinds comes tumbling down on the tranquility of "Presence," where Nkishi's a dead ringer for the vocalist from Shudder To Think. "Catching Butterflies With Hands" is an intentionally awkward selection with indescribable sounds jutting out from all sides and a constant plucking of random strings in attempts to find the right tune. If it weren't for the underlying thump supplying the anchor, it would get pulled into its own undertow. "Fantastic Analysis" provides a great closing number as Mouse On Mars comes within the earth's orbit to let the music take on its natural shape. Once again they have put together an album with surprises around every corner. You wouldn't believe that music like this existed unless you heard it for yourself - seek this one out and prepare to believe.

{steve crognale}

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