From Von Südenfed to Mouse On Mars to Yamo and Flür
I’m obviously a bit late on the ball here, but I still thought I'd write a few lines on Von Südenfed. And then drift away towards the Kraftwerk territories you've gotten you used to. Right:
Von Südenfed released their debut album, called "Tromatic Reflexxions", in May. They are a newly formed band, consisting of the two members of Mouse on Mars, Jan St Werner and Andi Toma, and Mark E. Smith, main (or only) man of The Fall.
The trio has collaborated briefly once before, when Mark E. Smith provided vocals on the Mouse on Mars' 12" "Wipe That Sound". But that was different. This time, they've formed an actual trio, and you can hear the difference.
Musically, the album is quite varied. There is a certain leftfield quirkyness throughout, but at certain points it leans more towards broken beat. But in a non-standard way. And there's strumming of guitars, probable field recordings and a big chunk of electronic trickery. In "Jbak Lois Lane", a brilliant interlude, someone basically handles a lawn mower and a lawn edger/trimmer (or both at the same time), and MES seems to want the guy to stop.
Von Südenfed is the second major celebrity collaboration for Mouse on Mars. In 1995, former Kraftwerk drummer Wolfgang Flür helped the duo by adding a drum track to a song on their second album, "Iaora Tahiti". Mouse on Mars repaid the debt the year after, working together with Mr Flür to create his first, and so far only, post Kraftwerk album "Time Pie", which was released under his still active Yamo alias.
I dug out an old issue of The Wire magazine today, issue 159 from May 1997 to be specific (that's right, never throw anything away), since I vaguely remembered it containing an article on the Cologne scene of the time, in which Mouse on Mars spoke out about their experiences with Flür during the making of the Yamo album. And it did.
"He brought us to collapse", says Jan, wincing at the memory. "I think we all met at a level of what we call schlager [crass pop hits] in Germany. Not even Easy Listening, more like Easy Thinking".
In reality, the schlager reference might be a bit to harsh. The vocals on the album are irritating, and so are the lyrics. But that is the main flaw, as the music is not half bad. It is basically pleasant techno pop, and almost all of the tracks has a sense of that deep electronic dub that Mouse on Mars did so well back then. Actually, the brilliantly dubby "Stereomatic (Stereomagic)" from "Time Pie" is lifted almost exactly as is from Mouse on Mars "Iaora Tahiti" album. The main differences are that the Mouse on Mars version is called "Stereomission", and that the Yamo version has vocals on top.
Listen for yourselves.
Download Mouse on Mars - "Stereomission" here.
Download Yamo - "Stereomatic (Stereomagic)" here.