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Wednesday, Nov 19 1997
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Mouse on Mars
Stereolab without vocals. Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma -- the two DYsseldorfers behind Mouse on Mars -- probably wouldn't mind the diminutive charge; the members of the two bands are friends and collaborators. But it says almost nothing about the experimental ambient songs that cut up live instruments with aging electronic machines. Mouse on Mars sound very -- surprise -- German, at times reminiscent of Can or Kraftwerk, but though the sounds are electronic, spacey, and robotic, they're always somehow human even as they're spinning out beats, unintelligible presences, and distinct moods.

The story goes that the first Mouse album -- a tape the two musicians made for themselves to listen to in the car -- ended up at the offices of Stereolab's Too Pure label; for the past three years, the two bands have collaborated on split records and each other's albums. Stereolab vocalists Laetitia Sadier and Mary Hansen contributed to the Mouse EP Cache Coeur Naif: Sadier wrote the lyrics (yes, lyrics) and sings on three of the four tracks; Hansen sang backup on one. Mouse on Mars paid back the favor by producing half of the Lab's new Dots and Loops (Tortoise's John McEntire recorded the other half).

At the Great American, expect surprisingly ear-pleasing experiments, shaky beats, and ambient sheen. You're free to listen, dance, or contemplate the room's architecture as you see fit.

-- Jill Stauffer

Mouse on Mars open for Stereolab Monday, Nov. 24, at 10 p.m. at the Great American Music Hall, 859 O'Farrell (at Polk). Tickets are $12.50; call 885-5075.

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Jill Stauffer

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