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Von Sudenfed Tromatic Reflexxions Review

Album. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Don’t expect to hear any of these on commercial radio anytime soon.

Paul Sullivan 2007

Rambling Fall frontman Mark E Smith is perhaps not the first person that springs to mind when you think about shaking your stuff on a Saturday night.

Then again, neither are Düsseldorf experimentalists Mouse On Mars (a.k.a. Jan St. Werner and Andi Toma) - which is what makes this collaborative project so fascinating.

For the first single from Tromatic Reflexxions, the trio’s collective debut album, is “Feldermaus Can't Get It,” a song that references Johann Strauss and The Tick while successfully melding stuttering basslines, sinewy electro and Smith’s sprawling verbal outpourings.

The single suggests that MOM’s ever-mercurial vision may be closer here to the skewed pop of their Radical Connector LP than their more recent (and more bombastic) Varcharz.

Certainly Tromatic’s second track, “The Rhinohead,” bears the same accessible production tropes, with its plodding beat, textured, shifting pop-rock structure and – gasp! - melodic chorus from Smith.

But neither MOM nor Smith were ever going to be satisfied with a play-it-safe album, and after the visceral club-punch of “Flooded” (a retelling of one of St. Werner’s dreams where a rival DJ – Sven Vath, specifically – stole his slot and he was compelled to flood the club in revenge), Tromatic moves swiftly into more adventurous territory.

Abrasive synth stabs and tortured machine squeals decorate the plodding groove of “Family Feud,” while “Serious Brainskin”, features heavy rave-horn blasts; “The Young, The Faceless & The Codes,” meanwhile, could well be the acid track the Happy Mondays never made.

The thud-thud-thud of “Speech Contamination/German Fear Of Österreich” and the affable “That Sound Wiped” bring the party back momentarily: but the trio soon amble off again down their own strange paths.

“Chicken Yiamas,” sees Smith finally let rip over a shuffling chicken-shack blues; “Jbak Lois Lane” is a recording of Mark either trimming his hedge or mowing his lawn – or both – while dropping casual conversation ('I know bigger f*!kin’ fellas than you') with passers by. “Dearest Friends,” is another total anomaly, matching Hawaiian guitar to a tale of departed friends.

Don’t expect to hear any of these on commercial radio anytime soon.

A few strong tracks, several fillers and a slew of eccentric surprises do not a great album make. But while club fiends might prefer the steady pulse of the singles, fans of Smith and/or MOM will probably get a decent kick out of the rest.

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