Proud to be an American? Perhaps.
But our pop music sure isn't our biggest bragging point. That's why it's inspiring to hear that the new album from German pioneers Mouse on Mars appeals to the American mainstream. It's also jarring to the band's fans who enjoyed the disparity.
"Radical Connector is something that's competing with the definition of pop," says MoM's Jan St. Werner. "We always accept the definition of pop that some idiot on MTV tells us we should have. I mean, why can't we have our own definition?"
It's not just that American pop tends to rehash '80s remixes with decreasingly impressive vocals pasted on top-the content is often just as irrelevant. Rather than flaunting gaudiness, fame and fortune (read: bling), St. Werner and MoM prefer to draw from everyday people and places.
"We are always impressed with people who have a very unique and individual approach and are not elitist in nature, or esoteric, or like super-specialized or super virtuoso," he says. "It is not about the super-maximum, high-speed massacre spectacle. It is about the moment-right here, right now, what can you do with it?
"It can be pop or jazz or free jazz or classical," he clarifies. "But it has to be something with personality and character, and strong individuality."
Mouse on Mars creates music from the intersection of pop, electronic, house and ambient funk and groove, with a musical/ontological theory that constantly evolves. Werner wishes the same for the current American government.
"You can spend your whole day in bullshit, but sometimes it would just help to doubt," he says. "And to remember that in a democratic society you are the one who makes the reality."
Some may feel the E.U. has no business middling in American politics, but Werner argues that while the U.S. may act unilaterally, it doesn't act in a vacuum.
"American politics totally affects the whole world but [non-Americans] are not supposed to vote," he says. "America was a country that was founded on freedom and an idea about democracy, [an idea] that government is so tempted to twist and subvert. What's happening now is a total let down for any democratic ideal. [But] it's upon the American people to do something about that. We can't just bring on our point of view from the outside."
No, it's not up to Mouse on Mars' new version of pop music, nor their political views. Guess it's our task to master.Mouse on Mars plays with Ratatat, Junior Boys and Aleph Research at the Casbah, 9 p.m. on Oct. 8. $12. 619-232-HELL.