Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Mouse on Mars

  • Vulvaland [Too Pure/American, 1994] Dud
  • Iaora Tahiti [Too Pure/American, 1995] C+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Vulvaland [Too Pure/American, 1994] Dud

Iaora Tahiti [Too Pure/American, 1995]
It's a shuck to apply the postfelicitous prefix "post" to instrumental rock, which has been a nothing tradition for a long time. In 1995 as so often before, chops were laughable, compositional notions paltry, big concepts quickly exhausted, and from Pell Mell to Eno/Wobble to FSOL to four out of five ambient comps to two out of three dance comps, the records weren't just forgettable, they were inconsequential. That's not true of this German duo, who care far more about details than their obvious godfathers Kraftwerk and at least as much as their vocal labelmates Pram. They may be quiet, but they ain't ambient--as background music, they're pretty irritating. Unfortunately, they're irritating up front as well. There's plenty of variety, and a well-constructed multibeat fantasia called "Saturday Night Worldcup Fieber" tickles me every time. But all this occurs within an aural universe that has little use for the lefthand three quarters of the piano. Its philosophical roots are in the so-called space-age pop that will remain lounge-rock's legacy long after joke bands from Black Velvet Flag to Friends of Dean Martinez have moved on to prostitution or website design--the vague sound/approach now reified in a three-disc RCA exhumation, a reminder that nothing released under the auspices of a major label stays incredibly strange for long. C+