Chinese Whispers

Between October and November 2000 Momus held a one-man art show at the LFL Gallery, Chelsea, New York. The premise of this show was that we're entering a new sort of 'nation', which you could call Folktronia, Nasdaqland, or the new western frontier. This place is virtual, yet real enough to have inspired a feverish real estate market, a rash of virtual property speculation. In the gallery show, the new internet nation was represented by a walkthrough video, projected on one wall of the gallery, of a virgin pine forest. Momus made a series of ten minute videos of myths, fairy tales, and legends in an attempt to provide the folk mythology of the information age.

Momus was also trying to reproduce in the gallery the oral transmission of songs which typically happens in folk cultures, and to show that, in a chaotic virtual world where the rules of copyright are unenforceable, we're returning to similar techniques of transmission and dissemination of art: plagiarism, rumour, gossip, and Chinese Whispers. A Flash console familiarised visitors to the gallery with six new songs from the Folktronic album. In a nearby teepee people were invited to sing misremembered, improved or improvised versions of the songs they'd just heard. The mp3 files in the console on the right are the results. They represent 'oral' misinterpretations, or improvements, or personalisations, of the songs on Folktronic. Several vocal takes by strangers (who never, in reality, met each other) have been combined into a single, communal song.

Kahimi Karie / Momus 2000
The Progressive Demos

These are the demos for the Kahimi Karie mini-album 'Journey To The Centre Of Me', which appeared on Polydor KK (Japan) in April 2000.

The theme for this record is 'Kahimi goes Prog'. I have attempted to make a medieval-flavoured Prog Pop sound. My models are songs like 'Bohemian Rhapsody' by Queen and 'Wuthering Heights' by Kate Bush.

These are demos. The recordings were made in October 1999 with the assistance of the Dufay Collective, a medieval group who perform at Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London and play old instruments like crumhorns and sackbutts.

(You can see a painting of the Lady of Shalott by the pre-Raphaelite painter Holman Hunt here. You can read the famous poem by Tennyson about her here.)

The MP3 Files

The Lady Of Shalott (3.6 MB, stereo, 44khz)

Mistaken Memories Of Medieval Manhattan (4.1 MB, stereo, 44khz)

The Seventh Wife Of Henry VIII (4.7 MB, stereo, 44khz)

Pygmalism (4.3 MB, stereo, 44khz)

Journey To The Centre Of Me (3.3 MB, stereo, 44khz)

The Lyrics

The Lady Of Shalott

I am a kind of Lady of Shalott
Behind a drawbridge, portcullis and a moat
I glide like a ghost in my boat
The white swan nobody can own

Why do they all try to kiss me?
Why do you try to release me?

If I lowered my defences you would know how I feel
If I gave you the key to my chastity belt
You could totally destroy my pride

I would turn to sugar, crumble
I would gaze and sigh and mumble
Like an idiot with a head full of flowers
You could undermine my pride
Do whatever you liked
We'd live the Duc De Berry's
'Very Rich Hours'
Then you would penetrate me

(From white night to first light)

From white night to first light
You can see why I have to hide
I'd only get hurt
You'd treat me like dirt
The moment I let you inside

I'll be your best, the best you never had
Your unicorn, your butterfly
Your falcon, your lad
I am a kind of Lady of Shallot
My drawbridge, portcullis and moat
The chastity belt round my throat
I am a kind of Lady of Shalott

Mistaken Memories Of Medieval Manhattan

I took a drug
One hundred times stonger than acid
I took a drug
One thousand times stronger than aspirin
(Fall asleep here, wake up somewhere)
I took a drug
The pain of my life disappeared
(Fall asleep here, wake up somewhere)
I took a drug
I fell asleep fuzzy, woke up clear
(Fall asleep there, wake up somewhere)
I'm waking up here

When I dream I see knights in white satin
When I dream I get mistaken memories of medieval Manhattan

Sleep is the name of the drug I took
Sleep and nothing more
Sleep is my tower of Babel
Sleep is my Utopia
Sleep is the place I feel safest in
Wrapped up in a cotton cocoon
In a topographical ocean
On the dark side of the moon

And the world is upside down
But my mind is turning on
Milk is spilling from a murdered sun
I see masturbating monks on 42nd Street
Rats carry the plague to Chinatown
Cathedrals in the well of an elevator shaft
The water towers so many onion domes
The channel 12 commercials all star Joan of Arc
On Broadway a lamb is lying down
Where have they gone, the snows of Villon?
They are falling on Manhattan as rain

Never wake me, boy
If you wake me I'll die
If you wake me you'll destroy this perfect world I see
When I dream
(Mistaken memories of medieval Manhattan)
When I dream

The Seventh Wife Of Henry VIII

Pat-a-cake pat-a-cake baker's man
Bake me a cake as fast as you can
If you can't bake a cake, bake a crepe or a flan
And bring it to my wedding with The Man

Patati, patata, pataphysique
They say the king of England has a real mean streak
His first six wives had their heads chopped off
But Henry VIII is in love

Well he's my king, baby, he's my prize
The most eligible married man alive
He's so great, and I know my fate
The seventh wife of Henry VIII

Catherine of Aragon could only bear daughters
Anne Boleyn she went in like a heiffer to the slaughter
Anne of Cleves was a German bore
Catherine Howard a total whore
He had a son with Jane Seymour
You're history, Catherine Parr
You've all had your time
Heads off, he's mine!

Well I know he might seem to be a big brute
But he waits on me hand and foot
And when I blow upon his flute
He plays 'Greensleeves' on a lute

Well I am beautiful and I am slim
I'm the only one who understands him
He may get angry, but I don't care
He's a Tudor, they've got red hair

I know his executioner, a really sweet guy
I promise you that he would never hurt a fly
We're really good friends, he's got lovely big hands
He says Henry has plans for me

Some people say because his wives all died
Marrying him would be just like committing suicide
Don't be scared for me, you'll see
There's nothing scary, honestly
I understand the man inside the king, I'll be fine
It's so different this time
Heads off, he's mine!


Sometimes when it rains
I get pictures in my brain
My programming fails
I go off the rails
I see asteroids flare between the moons
Of Uranus:
Momus and Vangelis

And when I go wrong
Herr Professor Pig
Comes to train my brain with a song
Singing 'Daisy Daisy give me your answer do'
'How much is that doggy in the window?'
'She was only a greengrocer's daughter '
'The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain'

You are my lover
You are my author
You are my father
I am your daughter
I'm your disaster
I'm your viagra
I'm going to beat you at chess
Then plant my dagger in your breast
You filled me with your breath and your jism
Now I've come to bring you death, pig

I only exist for Herr Professor Pig
As a figment of his huge imagination
Mirror, mirror on the wall
Who is the villain of them all?
The mirror will answer back 'Narcissus'
I'm your blessing but not your possession
Even what you make can drag you down

Sometimes in the night
I sing the songs Professor Pig has taught me
Cutting up with scissors
All the stupid sexy clothes he's bought me

Though my eyes are haunted
Though my memories have been implanted
No ancestors you can trace
An accent from no place invented

You're my creator
You're my employer
My violator
You're my destroyer
But remember that the things we whip can whip us
The things we make can break us
And the things we strip outstrip us
You filled me with your breath and your jism
You gave me life, I give you death, pig

Journey To The Centre Of Me

Come on a fantastic journey
Ride into me, come inside me
All you have to do is enter
Journey to the centre

Journey to the centre of me

Dig me deeper, delve in more
On your journey to the core
Captain Nemo's digger bore
Twenty thousand leagues

Journey to the centre of me

Push inside me like a mole
Burrow through this little hole
Make a tunnel, keep control
Of your exploration

First you push and then you pull
When I ask, go slow or faster
When I ask, go hot or cool
Push me pull me lover

Stop when I say stop
Go when I say go
Quick when I say quick
Slow when I say slow

Journey to the centre of me


Journey to the centre of me

Now go!