By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
"Unfortunately," sings Momus in his inimitably fey whisper, "Einstein informs us that when time travel's finally possible/There will be no returning to periods previous/To the point at which time travel first became possible/So like Walter Carlos/Until such time as it's feasible/We'll have to restrict time travel/To the realm of the musical."
Alas Carlos heard the song and didn't laugh -- in fact, she sued. Momus and his American label, Le Grand Magistery, won the suit but were still nailed with $30,000 in fees. To save his smart ass, Momus solicited patrons, including provocative artist Jeff Koons, Japanese pop genius Cornelius, New York PR firm Girlie Action Media, and an adorable three-year-old. Thirty folks paid $1000 to commission their own, personal Momus songs, which were collected on 1999's Stars Forever. Best song title: "Coming On an Intern's Dress."
Late last year Momus released Folktronic, an anthropological investigation of Appalachian porch droppings via binary code and digital camera. Unsurprisingly the idea is far funnier on paper than actually suffering through "Robocowboys" or "Folk Me Amadeus." As always, however, Currie's Xacto-blade wit is a joy to read. Best song title: "Jarre in Hicksville."
While it's a shame that Momus's creations are rarely sturdy enough to stand on their own musical merits, the fact remains that there's simply no one else like him. Who else but Momus could write "Mountain Music," a modern little ode to electronic folk?
"I've got that mountain music in me/Deep in memory/Time-stretched on my sampler/On my Rio MP3/I've got the mountains on a Minidisc/Right next to my heart/And when I press the play button/I hear the music start."
The sounds that accompany this arch comedy, sadly, are an undercooked quiche of Tinkertoy synths and flattened drum-machine beats. Couldn't a man as smart as Momus spend a bit more time perfecting the utterly unmysterious set his characters perennially inhabit?
Maybe if his music began to ask "What if?" fewer of us would respond, "So what?"