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 Karie work.

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 plastics.

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 inauthentic.)

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 samples.

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 epigrams:

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).