Mouse on Mars | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader
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MOUSE ON MARS

Most of the tunes on Mouse on Mars's terrific new Idiology (Thrill Jockey) would more likely precipitate a sit-down strike than a dance-floor clamor at the local disco. But Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma haven't obscured their techno roots even as they've moved beyond them. As on last year's Niun Niggung, they use real instruments, but these don't advertise themselves--rather they're tightly woven through the meticulously programmed electronic grooves and distinctive squelchy tones. On "Subsequence" a soft horn-and-string arrangement glides through bass-heavy grooves and multiple Kraftwerk references; "The Illking" uses the same instruments for sheer texture, integrating them into a beatless swirl of curdled laptop manipulations. The group's touring drummer, Dodo Nkishi, contributes electronically processed vocals to a number of tunes; he sounds agitated on the funky opener "Actionist Respoke," gets sweet 'n' serene a la Robert Wyatt on "Presence," and does his best Peter Gabriel over the Skatalites-esque horn solos on "Doit." The group probably won't be able to re-create the album's gorgeous depth onstage, but with Nkishi in the house I'd expect the set to be propulsive. Mouse on Mars's chosen opening act is Vert, aka Londoner Adam Butler, who contributed some electronics to Idiology and records for the duo's Sonig label. On last year's The Koln Konzert, he built a lovely piano-and-laptop epic from a few brief samples of Keith Jarrett's famous Koln Concert, reworking and contorting the phrases much like a jazz improviser. His new Nine Types of Ambiguity is a slightly more predictable laptop creation: pretty synthetic melodies enveloped in gurgling rhythms and noisy flutters. Him also performs. Wednesday, June 27, 8 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203.

PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Thomas Rabsch.

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