Mouse on Mars – Glam

3 out of 5

Label: Sonig, Thrill Jockey

Produced by: Jan St. Werner, Andi Toma

Even if I want to ignore the backstory on this album – which I do – I’m compelled to make reference to it in order to mention why I’m ignoring it.

It seems that every review I’ve read of this album, which have all been rather glowing, find glee in how MoM submitted it as a soundtrack to a film starring Tony Danza and had it summarily rejected.  The glee seems to stem from the anarchist sentiment in that story – the score was too out there! – as well as the Danza casting, because god forbid he be associated with not-Who’s the Boss.  I’m just skeptical of the story, is all, and skeptical of how that anarchist bit is wildly influential to indie kids (being difficult is wicked cool), because I tend to find the album enjoyable but fairly tepid, and its not like it’s such a stretch from other MoM from the same era that, if filmmakers conscripted the band for their film score,  they would have some idea of what to expect.  And yes, maybe it ended up not meeting those expectations, and maybe Danza was all Italian in his role, but I’m just saying: Cool story, but let’s set it aside while listening, eh?

Glam is something of a mixed bag in terms of content, with trucks shifting between the more experimental side of the Lithops albums and occasionally the more beat-based IDM of Mouse on Mars itself.  Between these points of interest – and the tracks that make good use of these styles or blend them are very good – the tracks seem non-committal; good ideas that aren’t pushed very far and then fade out.  The sequencing is such that you’re consistently reminded of the duo’s skills, but those ‘other’ moments occasionally get so minimal and quiet as to seem ambient (Tankpark) – perhaps remainders of incidental music from the film – or just don’t build on their content (Snap Bar, Rerelease Hysteresis).

But: as mentioned, there are a fair amount of highlights.  Opener Port Dusk is a tour de force intro, crafting odd clicks and beeps before kicking into full IDM; perhaps uncoincidentally it’s also one of the longer tracks at 7+ minutes; Mood Leck Backlash, despite ending somewhat abruptly, is a fun and flourished Ovuca-y trip.  Flim creates effective dissonance which slips into a cool beat, then morphs into the awfully grimey and awesome Tiplet Metal Plate, which is backed up by the dreamy Hi Court Low Cut.  The album almost smartly closes with a pair of winners: Hetzchase Nailway’s charging, rough beat is nice and ominous, with closer Glim whipping itself up into a dancefloor frenzy.

This is an excess of great listening for your average band, but whether it’s the soundtrack roots or over-abundance of ideas, the song sketches scattered o’er Glam slow it down too much to make it one of the top choices for a random MoM spin, and this probably not a recommended listen for your some outing.  But, certainly, if you’ve explored the group’s various modes and are a fan, this album overs an interesting cross-stitch of styles.