Le Grand Magistery
Release date: 1998
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Post-lawsuit US version of album. Omits "Walter Carlos" and contains three new tracks.
The record that best defines Momus' self-described "analog baroque" phase, The Little Red Songbook plays up his longstanding obsession with Serge Gainsbourg's dark humor and lascivious persona, placing it in a bed of lilting, unpredictable, and classically influenced melodies. The instrumentation is minimalist, usually employing only harpsichord, analog synth, bass sampled from a Nintendo GameBoy, and drum tracks from a cheap keyboard -- an odd blend of classicism and kitschy futurism. The arrangements are often more layered than they sound at first, thanks to Momus' skill as a producer, but the resulting Vivaldi-meets-Kraftwerk sound still has an artificial, inorganic, low-budget feel. Not only is that intentional, but it perfectly fits the wry detachment of many of the album's tales of sexual manipulation; while some songs' observations are cultural rather than sexual, The Little Red Songbook is overall one of Momus' most explicitly vulgar records. However, its bluntness doesn't mean that the concise lyrical vignettes aren't clever -- the list of "Everyone I Have Ever Slept With" turns into a rambling awards show speech, and "Coming in a Girl's Mouth" spends most of its time pondering the symbolic meaning of that act, not just its physical realities. In fact, the subject matter's clash with Momus' "cultured" chamber-pop appropriations makes for a compelling tension. It's equally possible to hear this as sophisticated pop with a conscious affectation of elegant, high-class decadence, or as an intentionally trashy, dirty way of subverting the pomposity of music and literature regarded as "high art," skillfully using its own forms against it. Either way, it's unabashedly self-referential, morally dubious, and scathingly funny -- in other words, everything a great latter-day Momus album should be. The album ends with instrumental "karaoke versions" of nine of its songs, which were used in a record-your-own-Momus-parody contest (the winning entries appeared on Stars Forever). [Note: Legal objections forced the removal of one of the album's songs; when The Little Red Songbook was reissued sans the offending track, there were three short new songs included as a substitute.]
- All Music Guide
If it's true that the typical male thinks with his dick, then Momus (aka Nick Currie) is just acting like a normal guy. But for anyone who knows anything about Momus, it's obvious that there's nothing normal about this 38-year-old Scottish pop artiste. In addition to producing highly animated exotic / erotic electro-pop (termed "Analog Baroque" by the performer), Momus is witty, sly and articulate. If his brain really is located between his legs, then that unruly cock he's always talking about sure has one hell of an I.Q.
Momus is the kind of guy you inevitably find yourself cheering for and laughing with, but it'd be safe to say that if you found him with your sister or ex-girlfriend (or present girlfriend, for that matter), the joke wouldn't be funny anymore. "Old Friend, New Flame," the exquisite opening track on The Little Red Songbook, is a brilliant example of what this album's hero is capable of: Upon hearing of the beauty and the youth his friend's mate possesses, Momus pursues and nets the woman he describes in post-coital victory as "the unfaithful wretch." But even as he goes on to "thank" all the women he has laid ("Everyone I Have Ever Slept With") and compare his dick to John The Baptist and Moses ("Coming In A Girl's Mouth"), you still find yourself feeling sorry for the bastard when he ends up with chlamydia ("Miss X, An Ex-Lover").
It may not be clear how closely Currie resembles the guise under which he's been working for more than a decade, but one thing is for sure: Momus is going straight to hell, and he'll probably try to fuck everyone down there as well.
- Alternative Press
1. Old Friend, New Flame 2. MC Escher 3. Who is Mr. Jones? 4. Harry K-Tel 5. Lucretia Borgia 6. How to Spot an Invert 7. Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 8. Born to Be Adored 9. Coming in a Girls Mouth 10. What are You Wearing? 11. The New Decameron 12. The Symphonies of Beethoven 13. Tragedy and Farce 14. Miss X, an Ex-Lover 15. A White Oriental Flower 16. Some Mistranslations 17. The Ugly Sister 18. Welcome to My Show Trial 19. Old Friend, New Flame (Karaoke Version) 20. Tragedy and Farce (Karaoke Version) 21. The New Decameron (Karaoke Version) 22. Coming in a Girl's Mouth (Karaoke Version) 23. Miss X, an Ex-Lover (Karaoke Version) 24. Harry K-Tel (Karaoke Version) 25. Who is Mr. Jones? (Karaoke Version) 26. How to Spot an Invert (Karaoke Version) 27. The Symphonies of Beethoven (Karaoke Version).
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