Momus - Oskar Tennis Champion

American Patchwork
(AMPATCH005: 708527100523)
Release date: 02/11/2003
Genre: Electronic



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Born in Scotland, and a veteran of UK indie labels like 4AD, Cherry Red and Creation, the musician, essayist, traveller, scenester and artist known as Momus began releasing his 'analog baroque' electronic chamber pop records in the US in the late 1990s. He moved to New York in 2000 in order to host a regular multimedia cabaret event at the Knitting Factory called 'Electronics In The 18th Century' and ended up staying two years, during which time he documented the early days of Fischerspooner in an audio documentary broadcast on WFMU, held a one man art show in a Chelsea gallery, released an album of 'glitch folk' called 'Folktronic', wrote essays for magazines like Index, Metropolis and Black Book (as well as his extensive website) and started a record label called American Patchwork, inspired by the late Alan Lomax. In early 2002, fleeing terrorism, recession and the Bush administration, Momus relocated to Tokyo. The album 'Oskar Tennis Champion' was recorded in the Nakameguro district where artists like Cornelius and Kahimi Karie -- both Momus collaborators -- continue the style formerly known as Shibuya-kei (now termed 'Nakame-kei'). 'Oskar Tennis Champion' was originally going to be a combination of musique concrete and the oriental theatre music of kabuki and Cantonese opera, but soon, under the influence of Jacques Tati's film 'Playtime', it went in a different direction, focusing on the juxtaposition of electroacoustic avant sound with vaudeville-style stories and slapstick. This direction was rehearsed in albums Momus co-wrote and produced for Mashcat (Japanese singer Emi Necozawa) and Milky (his ex-wife Shazna) for Japanese labels. This trilogy of albums ('Mashroom Haircat', 'Travels With A Donkey' and finally 'Oskar Tennis Champion', the only one available outside Japan) represented Momus' need to reconcile a love of new experimental laptop groups like Scratch Pet Land, DAT Politics and Discom with his own particular evolution of the traditional song format -- a unique mix of pastiche and unreliable narration, role playing, kulturkritik, comedy, provocation and devil's advocacy. Although Momus has guested as a vocalist on the recordings of many artists, from Kreidler to Bran Van 3000 and the 6ths, he tends to keep his own recordings very much to himself. 'Oskar Tennis Champion' marks a radical departure from this work habit: the entire album has been tweaked, mangled, glitched up and remixed by a young 'reproducer' based in Bay City, Michigan: 22 year-old John Talaga, who also makes records under the name Fashion Flesh and forms one half of the Super Madrigal Brothers, the American Patchwork signings who dominated the Darla sales chart through 2002 and wowed audiences on Momus' summer 2002 American Patchwork tour. John's work put the album into more radical sonic territory than Momus albums usually inhabit, fulfilling his ambition to make something that satisfies his inner Georges Brassens as well as his inner Pierre Schaeffer. The themes of the songs on 'Oskar Tennis Champion' are as diverse, ambiguous and playful as ever: here are politically-correct pirates and disabled epic heroes, 20th century Scottish vaudeville turns, Bauhaus design enthusiasts who fall victim to slapstick pratfalls, victims of bukkake reconstrued as controllers of sperm (and therefore the future of man), sentimental Schubert fans and optimistic communists, puppets and pierrots who rap about Henry Darger, blind guides who abandon their wards, sexual sewing machines and pretty Japanese girls who wander in Antarctica with tiny frozen lapdogs poking out of their coats. Business unusual, then, as usual. Momus website: www.demon.co.uk/momus Essays about the making of 'Oskar Tennis Champion': www.demon.co.uk/momus/makingoskar1.html 'Oskar Tennis Champion' lyrics: www.demon.co.uk/momus/oskarlyrics.html

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