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Niun Niggung

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Album Review

From the first few seconds of Mouse on Mars' sixth full-length, it appeared that Germany's most inventive duo had deserted the bubble'n'squeak electronica they'd trademarked and instead gone the way of instrument-driven post-rockers like Tortoise or Kreidler. There's a chamber quartet in attendance and a hushed air that sounds almost mature. After a minute of suspense though, things go all wibbly and electronic fans will find themselves back in the happy preserves of prime Mouse on Mars. The duo's vision of techno on Niun Niggung is impeccably perfectionist but texturally messy and surprisingly organic: it's electronic dance as produced by robotic hill people. The highlight is "Super Sonig Fadeout," a propulsive track that begins with several moments of metallic distortion. Slowly, ingeniously, the noise organizes itself into a loping, incredibly funky beat that drives the rest of the track. The music on Niun Niggung is far too much fun to provoke the question of whether Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner have progressed or not (which is always a matter for serious analysis in electronic circles), but the album does occasionally sound more like an attempt to duplicate the Mouse on Mars formula than the real thing. [The American release of Niun Niggung included a radically different configuration from the British and German release, plus several bonus tracks.]


Formed: 1993 in Düsseldorf, Germany

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Dabbling in complex, heavily hybridized forms of everything from ambient, techno, and dub to rock, jazz, and jungle, German post-techno duo Mouse on Mars was the combined effort of Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner (of Köln and Düsseldorf, respectively). Mouse on Mars formed in 1993, reportedly when Werner and Toma met either at a death metal concert or a health food store. Working from Werner's studio, the pair fused an admiration for the early experiments of Krautrock outfits like Can, Neu!, Kluster,...
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