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Mouse on Mars 

Varcharz (Ipecac Records)

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Since emerging from Germany in the early '90s, the duo of Köln-based Andi Toma and Düsseldorf-based Jan St. Werner has operated a perpetual undercurrent of malfunktion, and done a bang-up job of it. Throughout nine original full-lengths, Mouse on Mars has explored digitally corrugated rhythms and granulated melodies. On 2004's Radical Connector MoM even indulged some Basement Jaxxlike burbling pop, while never completely forsaking IDM's muddled metallics. With Varcharz, however, the group strays a touch from flirty microedits, moving more toward chaotic macramé.

Varcharz — MoM's debut album for Ipecac Records and its first in several years not featuring drummer Dodo Nkishi — features a toned-down presence of exploratory dub, post-rock, and vocal hooks for mechanized aggression. Coarse, knotty bass and virtual six-string shredding weaves throughout jams like "Düül," "Skik," and the eight-bit amalgam of "Bertney." Dense, detuning "Chartnok" and "One Day Not Today" harken back to MoM's mid-'90s drill 'n' bass era, while "I Go Ego Why Go We Go" is fricative robofunk squelching against a grinding synth line. Varcharz is a pixilated, spazzy sidestep among MoM's skewed digital overlays, sure to cause nervous laughter and throbbing satisfaction amid the group's fans. — Tony Ware

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