A talk with Jane Penny, TOPS’s vocalist, at her home back in Montreal
Things get lost once in a while: bobby pins, sweaters, thoughts, a thing we once loved. There’s something about getting lost; it has the potential to make us sad, yet it also enables the possibility of something being found. In a world where we’re constantly overloaded with new music, it’s easy to forget the albums from the past that formed us the most. This month we’re asking Brussels dj soFa —who recently compiled an album for French label ICI— to dig into his musical archives and recover an album that touched the heart but almost got forgotten over time.
Picture by Thomas Sweertvaegher
Which album do you want us to discover?
Iaora Tahiti by Mouse on Mars. They’re one of my teenage heroes along with Aphex Twin, Freeform, Autechre, BOC, Drexciya and Mike Paradinas. I was obsessed with this kind of ‘IDM’ and I wasn’t very open towards much else back then. What fascinates me about their music is how they really developed their own sound. No one sounded like MOM, and I believe even until today; finding your own sound identity is a big deal to accomplish.
When did you discover the album?
A few years after its release. This album in particular resisted the test of time more than others, in my opinion at least. I think MOM and Freeform are the only artists of whom I had the full discography at some point, although I stopped buying Mouse On Mars records after 2001, as they they adapted to more poppy and trendy currents a bit.
Why recover this one?
Because it dates back to a period that marked me a lot music-wise. I had almost forgotten about the album. Thinking about this interview I browsed my old ‘IDM’ records to see which album I wanted to talk about. When holding this one in my hands, the dubby tracks came to mind and I regret not adding them to my recent ‘mutant reggae’ set at Redlight Radio. It would have fit perfectly. I am very into reggae and dub these days, especially the strange/electronic/different kinds within both genres.
For fans of?
Ehm, mutant dub lovers? No, just kidding. This a quite eclectic record, even though it has a dreamy balearic touch and some krauty psych rock to it. It also has a few poppy choirs, a cosmic space age feeling and drum’n’bass moments. It’s so many styles in one, people “who like music which is difficult to allocate to one genre —hybrid stuff that lies in between genres— should listen to it”.
I could also say “for the fans of Lee Scratch Perry, Photek, Neu! and Aphex Twin”, as online shops would write to sell the music. Imagining a grand fusion of these four artists is definitely an interesting thought and it would probably sound close to the sound Iaora Tahiti.
What is your favorite song on the album?
Very hard to decide. I’d say ‘Kanu’, ‘Schunkel’ and ‘Schlecktron’. While ‘Schlektron’ is very dreamy, ‘Schunkel’ is a German word for swaying around to music as some Germans tend to do to Schlagermusik when sitting around tables filled with beers at Oktoberfest, to brutally explain it full of clichés. The title perfectly fits the weird dub vibe.
I think ‘Kanu’ might actually be the first Krautrock song I ever listened to before knowing what Krautrock was. That’s the interesting thing about this album; it opened the ears of the narrow minded teeny I used to be. It’s what I try to do when deejaying too; to force people to listen to a genre they don’t know without them noticing it (in the best case). Sounds very fascist and arrogant though (laughs).