The German duo Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner began their Mouse on Mars partnership in Düsseldorf, raising inevitable Kraftwerk comparisons. Instead of aloof and inhuman, Mouse on Mars made its machines sound all soft and squishy. Live, the duo stayed hunched over their joysticks, pumping out loud 'n' groovy electronica perfect for thoughtful head-bobbing and occasional drink-spilling. That worked fine for the band's early career, but now it's fully deployed new member Dodo Nkishi, and his weird-ass processed vocals and human-powered percussion bring Mouse on Mars to an electro-funk peak. Newish tunes like "Actionist Respoke" and "Wipe That Sound" come off like hit singles from another planet, with crazy, disembodied chants, beeps, blips, and bloops all locking together perfectly.
Without taking a stump grinder to its past, Mouse on Mars remains rooted to its Dadaesque tradition while moving much closer to a more conventional "rock" structure. Bass and guitar show up as welcome family members, not long-lost relatives, mingling with the laptops like old buddies at a bachelor party. Across the board, everything is beefed up considerably, and older, oddball glitch/IDM workouts like "Twift" benefit greatly from Nkishi's flashy stickwork -- between his flailing arms and all the sequencer/synth action going on, polyrhythms pop out everywhere, like a can of snakes. There's nothing more boring than electronic performers relying on nothing but computers in the live arena. The audio research department known as Mouse on Mars has addressed the problem and corrected it -- maybe for good.