How many other groups who have been active for 25 years can pull a rabbit out of their hat like the Berlin-based duo Mouse On Mars just did on their new album? Dimensional People is a suite of exhilarating electronica, revelling in new sound and wide-ranging collaborations. It’s ushered in by woodpecker rhythms laid down by percussion robots (!) designed specifically for this project. The subtle, gradual layering of textures and tones upon this foundation (set at a Chicago footwork tempo of 145 beats per minute) creates a delicious mood of anticipation that Mouse On Mars somehow sustains across a seamless 45-minute album.
I confess to being generally unimpressed by guest appearances from Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) or the brothers from the National, but Mouse On Mars throws them and dozens of other collaborators into a sensitive and always changing mix. (Don’t forget that the duo recorded one of the only necessary musical collaborations with the late Mark E. Smith.) A particularly magical moment comes from Swamp Dogg, a legend from the golden age of American R&B, who recites a wistful lyric over “Résumé.”
People, there’s a hell of a lot going on in Dimensional People, more than I can easily explain. (For a deeper glimpse into its methods, see this New York Times report on Mouse On Mars’ related installation at MIT.) In the end, it’s the emotional heft of this ambitious album that will keep me coming back.
Dimensional People is out now on Thrill Jockey Records.