Mouse on Mars – Synaptics EP

4 out of 5

Label: Monkeytown

Produced by: Jan St. Werner, Andi Toma

Coming to Mouse on Mars well after they’d established themselves across several albums, I sort of filed them away as another “classic” indie act – interesting, but likely having dumped their influence on to other artists I was appreciating, and so would sound dated. I picked up some MoM stuff and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until much later in their career that I realized how much of a shit summation that was: how relevant MoM would / could remain.

The three track Synaptics EP, released amidst an impressive resurgence of material in the 2010s, is another fine example of that, taking us through different variants of MoM’s grooving style that are as hard-edged and fresh as ever.

Opener Jack is Out is a killer, as a matter of fact – a heavy, bass-dropping remix from Arson Only that might be one of the most cut-up, glitchy things I’ve heard from MoM. Followup Bluescreen sprinkles chopped up Jessy Lanza vocals across its pitter-pat beat; the Modeselektor remix puts this in line with the dancefloor-friendly stuff of that artist, but its underlying percussion is otherworldly. The EP seems to be leading us through a funnel in a way – bursting out of the gates most aggressively, then bringing in the funk, before settling on Sensitive Person, which is a more “traditional” MoM groover, and rather chill in comparison. However, the ear-grabbing beats and layering of the lead-in tracks provides impetus to stay alert; Sensitive Person may not stand out in the same way, but it’s a gorgeous track, a nice juxtaposition to the preceding intensity, and a good way to lead us out…