What if computers finally began getting more Africa in them? What if folk artists started emerging who sounded more postmodern than Cornelius or Pole? What would Click Folk or Glitch Folk sound like? What would Alan Lomax have said if, in 1965, the Newport Folk Festival had been invaded by boffins and geeks playing modular Moogs?What if you could hear, today, the Country Music of the year 2049? What about the Japanese country music of 2049? What would that sound like? What if electronics had appeared in 18th Century Scotland just at the moment of the Highland Clearances? How many mountains can you fit on a Minidisc?
These are the sort of questions rattling around in the head -- and essays -- of Momus. Momus is Nick Currie, a New York-based Scot who wears an eyepatch, possibly to cover up a permanent wink. Over the past 15 years this self-styled 'minor god of mockery' has become something of a major cult, recording witty and inventive songs for a variety of indie-fetish labels like el, Creation, Bungalow and Le Grand Magistery. In the year 2000 he moved from London to New York, held a one-man show in a Chelsea art gallery, lectured, sang and danced around the world, wrote a whole bunch of essays on his website and cut an album of 'plastic folk'.
Momus records tell somewhat warped, morally provocative stories even as they snap together and crack apart, Lego-like, a big pile of multi-coloured musical styles. He's been influenced by -- and influenced in turn -- the Japanese pop of Cornelius and Kahimi Karie. On 'Folktronic', with typical pleasure in perverse juxtaposition, he's decided to combine analog electronicswith folk songs. Here you'll witness the hideously pompous baroque keyboard licks of 80s synthpop climbing into bed with with fakely traditional ballads, jigs and sea shanties. Here too mock prog epics full of tempo and key changes collide with neo-vaudeville numbers on the subject of the penis, and eulogies to decadent Roman emperors rub shoulders with passages of Bach played by cartoon fiddle yokels through massive ring modulation.
It's what Raymond Scott, Bruce Haack or Gary Numan might have sounded like if they'd jammed their way through the back catalogue of Steeleye Span. It's Shakespeare rendered in Flash 5 by a superlucid hyperactive Japanese geek. It's those prolific medieval songwriters Trad. and Anon. finding the missing link between unicorns and Unix. It's preposterous, provocative and prescient. It's another Momus album.
Go back to the previous album, Stars Forever (1999).
Go forward to the next album, Oskar Tennis Champion (2003).
You can download mp3 files of six of the songs on Folktronic as interpreted by visitors to the Folktronia art show held in New York in late 2000.
You can read more about the ideas behind the Folktronic and Folktronia projects in various essays Momus has written this year:
Tape Recorder Man
Heroes Of Fakelore
The Post-Bit Atom
The Fakeways Institute
Electronics In The 18th Century