Mouse on Mars with musikFabrik sound attack delights their audience

Mouse on Mars with musikFabrik at the Barbican. Photo: Chiara Ceccaioni

After the self-indulgent performance by Markus Popp of Oval and the uninspiring vocal arrangement loop that was the first  half of Mouse on Mars with musikFabrik, the crowd of mainly over 35’s were transient, evidently finding it hard to subject themselves to what was obviously not a usual orchestral performance.

Those that were appreciative of Popp’s booms, blips and Amon Tobin-like foley room sounds were similarly frustrated in their attempts to applaud, each time they tried Popp would drop another beat. People shouldn’t be listening to music like this while sitting. The interval then came as a welcome break to some. The lack of structure was not to everyone’s taste, this was music for the electronic connoisseur who’s interested in searching for a connection in an otherwise disparate and restless rhythm.

Then musikFabrik and composer Andre de Ridder strode onstage, followed by German due St Werner and Andi Toma – otherwise known as Mouse on Mars – to soothe the ears of those that found the first half hard. They began with what at first seemed to be an uninspiring battle between the classical sounds of the orchestra and the thoroughly modernist bellowing of synth bass, but it wasn’t long before the strings started climbing out of the deep electronic sounds, before they started blending in melody so subtle as to inspire one to lean forward, to catch a glimpse of where the violin was appearing from – what was this dovetail of vibration? The show had begun. The piano played in staccato; the cellos were plucked violently as the energy was thrust from the stage. This was a sound attack. Conductor Andre de Ridder sat as Mouse on Mars played a toned downed solo. There was what seemed to be a rapturous encore of a helicopter and an elephant trumpet, heavy breathing and the more conventional brushing of a high-hat.

St Werner says in the concert flyer, “but ultimately I think we meet the orchestra in an abstract world somewhere in between the obvious and fantastic”. The only obvious thing is that this is abstract and that a sound like this is hard to produce without being self-indulgent. The crowd was to be frustrated again at the end, as their baying for one more were ignored. Not that they cared much this is what they came for.

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