1. Sempreverde 2. Life of the Fields 3. Corkscrew King 4. Klaxon 5. Robin Hood 6. Lady Fancy Knickers 7. Lute Score 8. Belvedere 9. Your Fat Friend 10. Mr Ulysses 11. Water Song 12. Jesus In Furs 13. Bantam Boys 14. Cockle Pickers 15. The Artist Overwhelmed
Otto Spooky' is the new album from Momus, otherwise known as Scotsman Nick Currie -- perhaps the world's most infamous singer of electronic folk songs. Momus is old, but he keeps fresh by moving around the world -- since the late 90s he's lived in London, Paris, New York, and Tokyo, and he's currently to be found housed in the communist opulence of the Karl Marx Allee in East Berlin. It's here, in the spring and summer of 2004, that Momus recorded 'Otto Spooky'. 'Fake folk', 'Future Folk' or 'Analog Baroque', call it what you will; it's Burl Ives duetting with Bruce Haack, Bertolt Brecht teamed up with Ekkehard Ehlers. 'Otto Spooky' is the record David Bowie would have made if he'd worked on 'Lodger' with ex-members of The Incredible String Band instead of ex-members of Roxy Music. It's the record Paul Klee would have made if he'd gone for a walk with a song instead of a line. It's an underground film about Robin Hood scored by Renaldo and the Loaf. It's a travelogue in the sort of psychedelic folk style that sentimental computers use when they sing around camp fires, high on Liquid Crystal Diodes. 'Otto Spooky' shares its flavor of gentle pagan sensuality (there's a wink in the direction of cult British horror film 'The Wicker Man') with the record Momus recorded in 2003 with French computer folk musician Anne Laplantine, 'Summerisle'. But 'Summerisle' was very much Anne's record -- strange, haunting, nonsensical, random, abstract. 'Otto' is more narrative-based, more pop. In fact, it makes more sense to see it as the follow-up to 'Oskar Tennis Champion', the slapstick Modernist album Momus made in Tokyo in 2002. 'Oskar' and 'Otto' have in common vigourous sonic reworkings by John Talaga of Michigan -- quite simply the world's greatest neo-Dada sound designer. On 'Oskar' John 'reproduced' the tracks, taking them to pieces and building them back up from scratch; here he's confined himself to 'Song Morphs', dramatic transitions between the songs. They're designed to pleasantly disorient the listeners, swinging them giddily from one carousel to the next; from A to B via Z. Because this is a Momus album, and Momus is nothing if not a storyteller, there's lore galore. The first track, a sort of update on 'Greensleeves' set in a perspex Japanese garden, sees a computer singing 'I'm going to rape you', then, when his partner agrees, fretting 'Don't say okay because then it's not rape!' That's followed by an eerie paen to spring, then there's a tribute to Japanese comedian Ken Shimura and his famous character, the lustful but impotent 'idiot king' Baka Tono. Next comes a song in Arabic scales, sung in French, in which a Tripoli taxi driver explains the joys of giving your spouse a good slap in the face. Before the song called 'Lady Fancy Knickers' (which seems to be about insulating tape, but turns into a thundering of Mongol horsemen's hooves) there's the song which sees Robin Hood exchange his bow and arrow for a wheelchair and colostomy bag after a serious beating from his less scrupulous rival, Dooh Nibor. Then there's the song describing a video game in which you compose lute scores and shoot off panda's heads. (Naturally.) There's the song from a children's TV show from some fictional, frightening fascist republic, the ode to fat girlfriends, the blues song describing, apparently, a sexual encounter with God, the song about divining for water in an obscure African language, the sarcastic demolition of the faith of Mel Gibson ('Jesus in Furs'), the Elizabethan eunuch song about the joys of walking with a bassoon in the rain, the recitative telling the true story of the drowning of a team of immigrant Chinese cockle pickers off the coast of England, and, finally, the stately tale of two homosexual archeologists who meet Death in Italy. (Death, by the way, has the voice of the demonstration record that used to come with every Edison phonograph. But you knew that already, didn't you?) Odd. Spooky. Utterly 'Otto'. Madly and magnificently Momus.