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Norwegian Retro Cool

International Pop Modulations

I don't own a whole lot of music by Norwegian groups, so Micromars has the fair distinction of being one of the few. After being intrigued by the name (for some reason, I was thinking of some strange combination of Mouse On Mars and some other group) and seeing that the sounds on the album were created by (amongst other things) a farfisa compact, moog prodigy, roland compurhythm, and korg ms-20, I decided to go ahead with the bargain purchase. I figured that a group having so many damn cool instruments should be able to at least make a few neat sounds.

It turns out that my stupid judgment didn't go wrong and what I ended up with was a catchy little (and I stress the word little) album full of songs that sound like a cross between some of what Stereolab and Air's Moon Safari. As one can imagine with the instruments listed above (and even more cool ones that I didn't feel like putting down), Micromars is interested in making some funny little noises, and most of their songs have a really light quality about them (including several tracks with almost whispered vocals) that could feel at home at a martini party or simply in the background on a quiet night.

The disc starts out in a good way with "Cheesynova" and shows that even the group knows where their songs are coming from. Instead of trying to pull off something deep and meaningful, they acknowledge the presence of their meaningless "bop-bop" vocals and blurping little keyboard melodies. After a bit of feedback (probably the heaviest moment on the entire disc), the second track "New Pop Sound," lops right off into more goofy sounds. This time, the lyrics make some sense, but again they're really not much more than wallpaper as the group pumps out little more analog fun. Things come to catchy high on the fourth track "Alpha Beta" when all the instruments sound like they've been turned on "super-happy" mode.

On the sixth track, the group drops the vocals and instead turns to a sample of a French-speaking woman ala Dmitri From Paris. It works rather nicely, and on the very next track they even manage to use a vocodor without making it sound like a desperate attempt to cash in on the hip-ness of the effect. After a couple more short tracks, the album closes out with the longer "Microgravity," which drifts along with even less effort than any of the other tracks while encorporating some NASA samples for a dreamy effect.

In 10 songs and just a little over 30 minutes, the group has created some kitchy little ditties full of old-school sounding instruments that are worth listening to if you're fans of the above. The longest track on the entire disc barely goes over 4 minutes, and nothing manages to linger on for too long, although some of them probably could have and I wouldn't have minded. It's a quick little pop nugget of an album that is quite a bit of fun.

Rating: 7