Mars etc.


Last time around, they were all about vocal harmonies from NYC to Cape Town and massive guitars from Portland to Düsseldorf, mixed with clattering beats from Berlin to Detroit, but now, Munich-based trio Aloa Input leave Earth altogether with their sophomore release, Mars etc. Dropping just over a year after their 2013 debut Anysome (MORR 125CD/LP), Mars etc. finds Aloa Input dashing through the better part of recent music history and taking off for the red planet. Terrestrial life condensed, the album is an experimental study in hands-on sonic set theory; both a stunningly wild and unbridled beast and a long-overdue update to 1977's Voyager Golden Records. Florian Kreier (aka Angela Aux, vocals/bass), Cico Beck (aka Joasihno, live member of Ms. John Soda and The Notwist; electronics/drums), and Marcus Grassl (guitars/vocals) launch themselves and their increasingly cosmic network of influences (including world music, krautrock, hip-hop, folk, and more) into outer space. Opening track "Far Away Sun" is all kiddie samples vs. insane Jel-influenced beats, and while "Perry" nods enthusiastically to Mr. Beck Hansen, the inscrutable "Vampire," based on a Pocket Piano melody, seems to go for a last round on deserted roads (think Jarmusch). Elsewhere are disguised political statements ("Brother") and unhinged doors that swing and float in empty space ("The Door"). "21st Century Tale," a piece emulating Hymie's Basement's similarly titled pop hymn, is probably the most wide-eyed Aloa track of all time. It's a rather mellow confession of a maniac at first, until it drowns in a madcap collage of Disney soundscapes. "Hold On" is -- like the entire album -- a bit rough around the edges, more beat-driven, playful, expansive, and deeper, a tribute to Hunter S. Thompson that flickers like old, beaten VHS tapes, whereas indie anthem "BlaBla Theory" is banging enough to send school kids into a frenzy. The band pack a few all-time favorites (Beck, The Flaming Lips, The Beatles, Eels, Dylan, The Beach Boys) into a single track ("Mad As Hell"), and then close it out with "Ruth the Communist." To a spectator, shades and field glass at the ready, it would have looked like this: there's a humming sound inside the rocket-like vehicle, the countdown's over, flames start shooting up, and there's smoke as well -- but luckily, Aloa Input managed to keep that keyboard-charring cable fire in check as well. Co-produced and mixed by Olaf Opal.