Prease Enjoy Anarog Baloque!
Do you know that in Unix speak, the year 1970 is called The Epoch and
considered the beginning of all time?
And so it is too in Analog Baroque. Our electronic age starts there. That's
when we began our task of telling the computers about our human
cultural heritage. We began to shovel the music, literature and architecture
of the past into the mainframes. It came out the other side all
bleepy and warped, like western pop when it comes out the other side of
Japan, or a sine wave after it's been passed through the VCO filter
on an analog synth.
Around the time I made this record, I was doing a lot of shopping for
cultural products in London and Tokyo and Scotland. I was shopping in a
totally Japanese way: that crazy eclectic form of cultural assimilation they
have, curating styles from all over the world and combining them
into something totally fresh. The way Cornelius, Takako Minekawa and Kahimi
I wanted to buy a wig, epigrams, wit, I wanted to buy a 'transient monument'
like a firework display, I wanted to collect or curate the
weirdness of Poussin and Matthew Barney, I wanted a Moog synth and some
vinyl disks by Jean-Michel Jarre. I wasn't just buying things, I
was buying into things.
In late rainy season rain I walked around Harajuku, Tokyo's youth and style
district, videoing the Decora-chan girls, who dress like Marie
Antoinette as a cyberpunk milkmaid, mixing petticoats with transparent
In the Record and Tape Exchange at London's Notting Hill Gate (is it a shop,
or is it a museum?) I bought some vinyl: Jean Michel Jarre,
Tomita and a library Moog record by a '70s Munich group called Logo 2000.
(The sleeve categorises each track: one is a 'melancholy
Tunisian theme, desert, caravan', another a 'strange combination of french
musette waltz and Bavarian 'Landler'. All wonderfully artifical and
At the Edinburgh Festival I saw some weird theatre: Croatians in silver
baroque wigs, a Spanish company driving harpsichords
around the stage like cars while huge rubber busts of Bach hung swinging
from the ceiling, a German play in which electronic
subtitles flicked by on displays nested in the highly ornate theatre boxes.
Then, out on the street, I saw a gift shop full of kilts and swords with a
sign in the window boasting 'Huge database of family names!'
Data in the service of decoration, old culture being fed into the computer,
historical garb reproduced in hi-tech fabrics... it all seemed to
add up to something. I began to call it Analog Baroque.
Around this time I bought a Roland VS880 digital hard disk recorder and
began, quite unexpectedly, recording an album.
In the recording I found myself fixating on the pioneers of the early analog
period. In the late 60s the retro-futurism of the Moog sound was given form
and elegance by a trend for reworkings of baroque music. Recording a track
called 'The Symphonies Of Beethoven' with London Moog band Add N To (X), I
fused harpsichords (in the manner of Vivaldi, Monteverdi, Handel or
Couperin) with the electropop style of mid-70s Kraftwerk. I decided to make this style the key to my new album.
I thought about people who had played with similar contrasts. Klaus
Nomi. Cornelius, who does a drum and bass version of Bach
on 'Fantasma'. The Beastie Boys, who have a bit of a harpsichord thing going
on in 'Hello Nasty'. The recently-deceased Falco, whose
'Rock Me, Amadeus' is quoted on Beck's 'Stereopathetic Soul Manure'.
Kraftwerk doing their track 'Franz Schubert'.
And now there's me.
The first song on this 'chamber album' of nasty lieder sounds like a
troubadour air. I'm using digital snapshots of primitive analog
sounds. The drums are a beatbox recorded on my digital camcorder from a home
organ I found in a little town near the Swiss border. The
bass is the slowed down sound of a Nintendo Gameboy. The rest of the
instrumentation is harpsichords and ARP analog synth
Lyrics are indebted to Martial, the Latin epigrammist. Most of the songs are
under two minutes long and tell a story in its barest outline,
usually in the form of an anecdote or a joke. I trawled through a lot of E
mail to find things I'd told my friends to make them laugh. They were
usually little stories, bitchy observations, stuff about sex. I changed the
names to protect the guilty.
One day I hope to say about this record what Martial said about his book of
All Rome is mad about my book:
It's praised, they hum the lines, shops stock it,
It peeps from every hand and pocket.
There's a man reading it! Just look -
He blushes, turns pale, reels, yawns, curses.
That's what I'm after. Bravo, verses!
Momus, London, 1998
In association with Cherry Red Records, Momus proudly presents his new
label, Analog Baroque. New artists will make their appearance on this
label in 1999.
Read how the Edinburgh Festival this year went Analog Baroque!
Go back to the last album, Ping Pong (1997).
Go forward to the next album, Stars Forever (1999).