After last years collection of singles release Queries, Jan St. Werner is already back with a new batch of tracks under his alter-ego Lithops. While it's slightly more melodic and not as massively deconstructed as his last full-length album Scrypt, it still finds him pushing into seriously digital breakdown mode. In some twisted alternative universe ruled by robots with attention deficit disorder, Mound Magnet might rule their top 40 pop charts.
While a bit of this heavy data-bashed sound crept into the most recent Mouse On Mars album (Varcharz), Lithops is basically the outlet for St. Werner to really go wild. "Opposite Of Windward" opens the album and the track opens with pinched sprays of percussion before streaming into an even more buzzing middle section, where glints of arpeggiated synth riffs splinter at the edges and the whole track flies towards a car-wreck ending. "Evacoda" forays into more ambient territory, and the track spits some cartoon soundtrack sounds in over eerie drones, while "Vortext" lets loose with bowel-churning low end blasts and high-frequency squeals that collapse into a gated junk-heap ending.
On "Stakes Barrier," Werner strips away a bit more of the detritus, and the result is the best track on the album as it slides through three or four distinct, rumbling sections over the course of almost eight minutes. At times, the track feels like Mouse On Mars gone completely aggro and finishes with a flickering coda that provides a perfect cool-down. As with other Lithops albums, Mound Magnet isn't an easy listen by any means. It doesn't stay in one place for very long at all and will probably induce headaches unless you're in a mood for schizophrenic electronic freakouts. Werner certainly has a way with his machines, as is evident on tracks like "Stratografic," but too many times his Lithops project simply sounds like he's infatuated with their gurgles and belches while forgetting to let some actual melodies creep through.