Mouse on Mars | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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The German post-techno duo of Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner, better known as Mouse on Mars, have been on a roll for a couple years now. Though the woozy, slo-mo dub-plasma soundscapes of their 1994 debut, Vulvaland, and its 1995 follow-up, Iaora Tahiti, were undeniably enticing, both albums were a bit too diffuse and noodly--the word St. Werner uses is "shy"--to hold your ear for long. But that changed with 2000's Niun Niggung, when Mouse on Mars "went pop," sort of: they tightened structures, simplified beats, and added vocals (courtesy of drummer and singer Dodo Nkishi), and the results were much more concrete and physical, sometimes even bordering on hooky. Last year's Idiology worked a similar vein--the single, "Actionist Respoke," delivered the most acute electroshock of the group's career--but overall the disc was less effective. Their new EP, Agit Itter It It (Thrill Jockey), is mostly leftovers from Idiology, but I actually enjoy it more: for one thing, Agit is more groove heavy. "Repress-End" alternates between a series of cooled-down beats that sound like frostbitten jazz funk and a busy, broken shuffle that deconstructs drum 'n' bass's frantic rhythmic logic. "Spotanous Reconstruction" decorates a throbbing house beat with Mouse on Mars's typical stretched-rubber twangs and malfunctioning-microchip noises, while "Unt It Led States Of" interrupts an airy, playful groove with what sounds like someone dribbling a contact-miked rubber ball, a la Aphex Twin's "Bucephalus Bouncing Ball." Mouse on Mars seem to be getting closer to straight dance music--but only in order to subvert it more effectively. Wednesday, September 4, 8 PM, Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-3160.

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