Lithops is the solo guise of Jan St. Werner, known to most as half of popular Köln/Düsseldorf-based duo Mouse on Mars. Also a member of abstract ambient outfit Microstoria, St. Werner tends toward middle ground with his Lithops material, fusing the smooth digital weirdness of Microstoria with the smudgy, off-kilter beats and warm, imperfect textures of Mouse on Mars releases such as Instrumentals and Glam. Lithops tracks rub the outer edges of inferential electronics, and often sound as though they began their lives as happy little studio accidents, all fumbly, peripatetic rhythms emerging from a haze of muffled bass and overdriving synth textures. Although St. Werner's first Lithops tracks trace only to 1995, a flood of material quickly appeared, beginning with the two-track "Wackler"/"Khan" 12", issued by tiny Köln-based imprint Eat Raw, and shifting into high gear with a pair of full-lengths released in 1998. St. Werner and MoM partner Andi Toma's vinyl-only Sonig label issued the first of those -- the drab, gauzy Uni Umit -- in early 1998, while the Eat Raw LP Didot followed only months later. Although it didn't receive quite the initial distribution push of Sonig's first release -- MoM's excellent Instrumentals LP, reissued stateside by Thrill Jockey -- Uni Umit was equally as splendid, wrapping thick, organic textures around sparse rhythms, bizarre electronics, and thick, strapping, resonant bass. (The album got a stateside CD reissue in 1998, via Jim O'Rourke's Moikai label.) Didot, for its part, was slightly better produced and rhythmically further flung than its predecessor, but both satisfy to a more or less equal degree. An additional 1998 release came in the form of the "Turbino" 7", released by the otherwise unrelated Static Caravan label. Another single, "Sequenced Twinset," appeared in 1999, and four years later, Lithops returned with third album, Scrypt, released through Thrill Jockey. Following in 2006 were the compilation Queries as well as the first of a series of new material under the title Mound Magnet. Part two, Mound Magnet, Pt. 2: Elevations Above Sea Level, appeared in 2008. Ye Viols!, which gathered pieces from gallery installation soundtracks, arrived in early 2009. ~ Sean Cooper

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