Even though I'm not one of those people who think that each one of their successive albums has gotten better, I have to give Mouse On Mars serious credit for not just doing the same thing over and over again. Up until last year, they were always one of those groups that I wanted to see live, simply because I wondered how they'd pull off their sound. Luckily for me, they amazingly enough played a show close to where I live and I was able to catch them in person. To say that I was impressed would easily be an understatement, and the way that the trio incorporated live instrumentation and electronics in a live setting is still something that I haven't seen anyone do better.
The show was so good that during a couple points I found myself telling a friend that I wished their studio recordings would capture some of the odd dynamics of their live performance (especially on tracks that the group performed from their most recent releases Idiology and Radical Connector. With Andi Toma rocking the bass, guitar, and electronics, Jan St. Werner on keyboards and electronics, and the centerpiece of Dodo Nkishi on drums and vocals (who with his crazy hair, frantic limbs, and guttural vocals seemed like the glue holding everything together), the live trio were probably one of the three best shows I saw all last year.
At any rate, the group finally decided to release a document of their live shows and I for one am glad. Live 04 isn't obviously nearly as good as seeing the group in person, but if does give a very good representation of the unique and sometimes quite crazy live show that they put on. For fans of the group who still haven't had the chance to see them live, the recording also offers a good deal of variety, including tracks from old albums as well as the new ones. The disc opens with the more poppy "Mine Is In Yours," they burst right into the hyper-dance funk of "DiskDusk" and onto "All The Old Powers," which pretty much destroys the album version of the same track by extending and dirtying it up. It's on this track that the true power of the group can be felt, as filtered vocal bits, electronic pings, feedback, live drums, bass, and grimey synths all mash together in a glorious, dense trip.
The vocals of Nkishi are definite highlights, but his spastic appendages add quick bursts of percussion add quick hits to classics like "Distroia," "Twift," and "Frosch" (which closes the album with almost nine minutes of squelched-out, extended dance marathon fun). "Wipe That Sound" is included both on the actual release and as a bonus video, so you can actually catch visuals (although they're not edited the best to truly see the trio reacting to one another) of Mouse On Mars in action. Despite being pulled from over 600 hours of live recordings, the tracks are all edited together nicely, and both begin and end with the sound of crowd noise (with bursts of cheering during tracks themselves), which helps the release keep a nice flow. Basically, if you get the chance, I can't recommend more that you see the group, but if you haven't been able to, this is the next best thing.