Back in 1987 Momus was in a London studio finishing The Poison Boyfriend, his debut album for Creation Records. Band of Holy Joy had a session the next day, so the 27 year-old Scot left a note wishing his friends well and adding: "You've got real accordions — I just use the horrible pre-programmed one in the DX7!" Thirty-two years later, now living in Berlin after a long spell in Japan, Momus finally purchased a real accordion from a junk shop on a street once split by the wall. The instrument — satisfyingly loud and pleasingly tactile — hung heavy from his shoulders like an extra pair of lungs. Momus quickly discovered its wide dynamic range, its ability to stab, sob and wheeze and the ease with which chords could be pumped out using the buttons ranged down the lefthand side. Songs played on the new instrument (mixed in with sounds from the latest iPad apps) had a pleasing tendency to sound like Eisler's collaborations with Brecht during the late Weimar Republic years. Momus decided to make an album called Akkordion (the title mixes the German and English spellings) and drummed up sixteen new songs during the spookily hot summer. Many of them sound like garish clown music, political cabaret, surreal satire or radical vaudeville, with echoes of the accordion artists Momus knew in the neo-cabaret scene of 1980s London: The Pogues, Les Negresses Vertes, The Tiger Lillies, even solo Marc Almond and Nick Cave. There's a splash of Dylanology, some Barryesque Bondism, traces of Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen, and tributes to Kevin Ayers and Meredith Monk. But as usual David Bowie is the dominant influence, via the bawdy Brecht songs he recorded for his role as Baal. He's there in the Newley-ish narrative voice in The Poet, the scathing social satire in Self Help and the Chic-influenced People Are Turning To Gold (a title plucked from an early draft of Ashes to Ashes). And early solo Eno hovers over the Dion-influenced What The Kite Thinks. If the music is often referential and retro, the subjects are fresh: Momus wonders how Kenneth Williams's Rambling Syd Rumpo — an obscene folk singer fond of public sex — might fare confronted by Chinese facial recognition technology, or fabricates sinister dirges to "welcome" the ghastly new breed of British politicians being enabled by Brexit. Throughout, the big question seems to be whether individual happiness can happen in a vacuum, or whether salvation needs to be something collective. Finally, what defines Akkordion is this tension between the light and dark: the bittersweet contrast between personal fulfilment and a political world dominated by division, toxicity and — let's face it — actual fascism. Like little Oskar Matzerath in The Tin Drum this accordion sends a scream through a world marred by disaccord.
1. The World of Night 2. What the Kite Thinks 3. The Poet 4. Lardybastard 5. People are Turning to Gold 6. Grand Guignol 7. Self Help 8. Catman Finley 9. Couple Me 10. Dylanology 11. Facial Recognition 12. Samurai 13. Inside 14. The Thief 15. Loneliness 16. Endarkenment