JAN ST WERNER of MOUSE ON MARS – Song For Ewe

Mouse on Mars by Guillaume Bog

“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is returning to these pages, having last time out picked that absolute goth disco classic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus. Jan St. Werner is one half of the Berlin based electronica duo Mouse on Mars whom I’ve held in great affection since they guest hosted MTV Alternative Nation for me back in the mid-90s. I’ve also interviewed Jan about his favourite albums for The Quietus’ Baker’s Dozen feature and as it included new ones to me including Morton Feldman, Gottfried Michael Koenig and David Behrman (alongside some proper crate digging records by Oval and The Mothers of Invention) it was an electronic epiphany.

Mouse on Mars are back with a new album called “AAI” and it’s a rumination on Artificial Intelligence full of robotic voices in the ether, cyber funk and found sound escapades, out on the never less than impressive Thrill Jockey Records on 26th February. It’s definitely a thrilling journey, kind of a flume ride into the future (even the title “AAI” despite it’s AI refence could equally be a scream if you want to go faster) but right now I’m pleased to present (present geddit?) the thinking person’s producer – Jan St. Werner!

Get your ear-goggles on and glimpse the danceable glitch of “Artificial Authentic” below…

Sonic scholars themselves, St. Werner and Thoma have this time collaborated with the writer and academic Louis Chude-Sokei, a carefully curated collective of computer programmers and longtime Mouse on Mars percussionist Dodo NKishi. “AAI” is self-consciously sci-fi and explores artificial intelligence both as conceptual narrative framework and also as compositional tool to create the music itself. Its human and machine figuratively and literally in symbiosis.

Working with AI tech collective Birds on Mars and former Soundcloud programmers Ranny Keddo and Derrek Kindle, MoM collaborated on the creation of bespoke software capable of modelling speech especially for the album. What at first listen you assume is Chude-Sokei narrating is actually the AI speaking – the album’s narrative of an artificial intelligence growing, learning and speaking quite literally mirrored in the album’s composition. That’s how meta the Mouse on Mars are these days!

During Jan’s Baker’s Dozen for tQ we talked extensively about his hero Holger Czukay (Can obvs) someone who also presented Alternative Nation after Toby Amies left to measure Long Island with MTV NY. Recently, in the wake of their completion of “AAI” Jan and Andi have been awarded the City of Cologne’s Holger Czukay Prize, honouring “artists whose work is rooted in Cologne and whose influence continues to shape current developments” and it feels like a long overdue recognition of their status as ever-ready, always ingenious innovators. However palpitatious (sic) and polyrhythmic they’ve always been close to my heart…

…but what has Jan chosen as his second pick in our long-running feature? It’s something equally skittering and cerebrally jolting to the best that “AAI” has to offer…without further ado, this is Jan St. Werner’s “song for ewe”…

“Edit the Dragon” by Colourbox is an electroacoustic sample massacre, heavy on the drum machine with fantastic delay and panning effects. kind of in between everything we love.

Colourbox were one of the greatest pop bands of all time, never too serious ever passionate and skillful.

They experimented with everything they could get their hands on: synth programming, electroacoustic sound studies, pop songs, dub, sampledelia, culturjaming, beat editing, madness and style. “Hot Doggie” from the 4AD compilation “Lonely Is An Eyesore” is another favorite of ours.”

THANKS FOR COMING BACK TO VS, JAN ST. WERNER!

Pre-order “AAI” by Mouse on Mars here… (out physically on 26 Feb)

and you can check out Jan’s last visit to Velvet Sheep here…

JAN ST. WERNER of MOUSE ON MARS – Song For Ewe

Author: Nick Hutchings

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