For their 11th album Mouse On Mars continue the collaborative approach that made 2014’s 21 Again the enjoyable if overlong compilation it was, and this time it comes with a slightly more durable concept, as well as a significantly slimmer runtime.
As they put it: “Dimensional People expresses itself as a dynamic 50-piece orchestra, telling a story in sound. Each player is a multifaceted character, the recording an imagined stage, and the production is direction, lighting, and setting changes”.
The album often takes on the attributes of a free-flowing jam session, and the idea is that the many guests contributed to it in whatever way they wanted.
The opening three title tracks, which last a combined 13 minutes and feature The National‘s Aaron Dessner and Bon Iver‘s Justin Vernon, set the tone with chattering percussive elements, gummy bass, frantic riffs that dissolve away leaving beatless ambience and Vernon’s vocal contributions.
Another multi-track sequence is Parliament Of Aliens featuring Sam Amidon, Lisa Hannigan and The National’s Bryce Dessner, which has elements in common but a drastically different tone from parts I to II to III, and different tracks also flow into each other to give Dimensional People an Odyssean feel.
If there is a flaw, it is that some jams are more eventful than others, as seen on the busy but ultimately inconsequential Daylight and Tear To My Eye featuring Eric D Clark and Beirut‘s Zach Condon, but this is something of an occupational hazard and the creative spirit is clearly heard throughout.
The highlight of the album is Resume, featuring a wistful Swamp Dogg talking about his own life and musing on the future to a dubby bassline and kitchen-sink production, Mouse On Mars at their odd, inimitable best.