Lithops - Queries
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Although his work under the name of Lithops has never been as friendly and fun as that of Mouse On Mars, Jan St. Werner hasn't always proved so obtuse under his other music-making pseudonym. His Scrypt album of a couple years back was a crashing, deconstructed collision of digital blasts that never quite seemed to take off, but listening to Queries, it's easy to hear how his work overlapped with that of his more well-known band.

A collection of material created (some of it has been released as singles, some are previously unreleased) between 1995-1999, Queries is a slightly less baffling, and much lighter release than the newer material from St. Werner as Lithops. Split between more ambient experiments that recall the work of Mouse On Mars on their murky, wondrous Glam and more melodic, rhythmic workouts, the disc covers a lot of bases in twelve tracks and just over an hour in running length.

The disc opens with "Kahn" and analogue gurgling seeps out from behind hollowed-out clunks and sweeps of sound for over nine minutes. The track sounds purely pastoral most of the time, but is occasionally serrated with an overdriven percussive hit, making for a few tense moments. Elsewhere, St. Werner gets more playful, as "Blasphere" features some slippery melodic synths and chopped vocal samples over chunky beats while "Tubino See-Through" crosses onto another plain entirely as Andi Toma (his partner in crime in Mouse On Mars) hammers away on live drums over scratchy, analogue blasts.

Some of the older material on the release suffers a bit from past due date (like the lo-fi drum machine hits and minimal programming of "Wackler"), but at other times tracks sound like missing records in the fossil record of Mouse On Mars (especially the charming, quirky "Swingern In Flingern" and the electro-funk of "Tenson"). Sequenced in no particular order in terms of date released, Queries will definitely appeal to MOM fans looking for another extension of that groups sound.

rating: 710
Aaron Coleman 2006-06-21 21:23:30