Momus, a Scot by the name of Nick Currie, has been one of Europe’s most creative, bizarre, and literate artists in the last two decades. He bounced from label to label. He was on Cherry Red, Creation Records, and eventually started his own labels Analog Baroque and American Patchwork.
On Alan McGee’s magnificent independent Creation Records, Momus released his biggest hit ever “The Hairstyle Of The Devil”. Creation Records released a myriad of different LPs by Momus from 1987 to 1993: “The Poison Boyfriend”, “Tender Pervert”, “Don’t Stop The Night”, “Hippopotamomus”, “Voyager”, and finally “Timelord”. There was also a compilation called “Monsters Of Love”. Each album was different from the previous one, ranging from acoustic music to electronic dance. All of them had lyrics that were sexy, sinister, literate, perverted, obscure, and romantic.
While some critics hailed “Don’t Stop The Night” and “Tender Pervert” as classic albums, other critics hated “Hippopotamomus”, with NME giving it 0 out of 10. Michelin Tires almost sued Creation records because of the song “Michelin Man”, and eventually they had to re-release “Hippopotamomus” without that track.
When Creation Records folded, Momus went on to release album after album, gaining more of a cult following and for years, collectors were paying top dollar for the out of print Creation recordings. The original “Hippopotamomus” LP with the “Michelin Man” track has occasionally sold on Ebay for up to $75! Finally, Cherry Red Records acquired the rights from Sony to re-release these albums and as a tribute, Momus and Cherry Red released “Forbidden Software Timemachine”, a double CD that compiles the best of Momus works on Creation. Handpicked by Currie himself, “Forbidden Software Timemachine” is not only a good portrait of his work on Creation but just a damn good compilation.
The first disc is titled “The youthful hero doomed to fall like blossom” displays the first half of his Creation years. This first disc is more acoustic than the second disc, “A machine that let you feel all his emotion”. Still, this first section does include songs from the jaded disco of “Don’t Stop The Night”. The compilation opens up with the 8-minute epic “Bishonen”, a heartfelt story of a boy, raised by man obsessed with myths and legends, and taught to die young. The harpsichord-like guitar work swirls and becomes hypnotic. Momus is a magnificent storyteller and “Bishonen” (from “Tender Pervert”) is a perfect example. It does not instantly grab the listener. It takes repeated listens and an attentive ear to fully understand and appreciate the song.
Another wonderful track is “Murderers, The Hope Of Women” (from “The Poison Boyfriend”). Here, the narrator tells a story on how he weds a woman and plans to kill her. It is deliciously sinister. Other well-known Momus tracks like “The Gatecrasher”, “The Homosexual”, “Shaftsbury Avenue” and “The Guitar Lesson” are included.
“The Homosexual” is the story of a feminine man who pretends to be a homosexual to gain the trust of women. The chorus is sung with Nick’s usual feminine voice that has a sinister energy behind it:
The homosexual they call me it’s all the same to me
That spectre they projected I will now pretend to be
Since their neurosis is what passes for normality
It’s okay with me if I’m queer
Since their tone-deafness is called the love of music
I won’t disabuse them
I’ll make love with their women
I’ll make them sing notes of pleasure
Their husbands will never hear…
Suprisingly, “The Gatecrasher” is not catchy at all, and “Shaftesbury Avenue” sounds very 80s (since it was actually recorded in the 80s…) The two popular disco tracks “A Complete History Of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17-24)” and “The Hairstyle Of The Devil” are included for obvious reasons. And while the music does sound dated, the lyricism, the approach, and the fullness behind the songs are all wonderful. The very long spoken word track “Closer To You” ends the first disc just like the end of “The Poison Boyfriend”. Loved by many fans, it’s filled with lines that are dripping with sexuality, loneliness, and literary pretensions.
While all of the songs are wonderful on the first disc, some of the selections should have been different. Instead of tale of the homosexual ice skating couple from “Love On Ice”, why not include the emotional and romantic “Flame Into Being” or sinister and acoustic “11 Executioners”? Instead of the extremely sad and mellow “In The Sanatorium”, why not include the much more well known “I Was A Maoist Intellectual”? Although it is not one of my favorites, I was very surprised that “Sex For The Disabled” was not included. “How Do You Find My Sister?” is another odd addition. Why was this included and not the classic disco of “Lifestyles Of The Rich & Famous”?
The second disc comprises Currie’s later Creation days and his experimentation with electronic music. Unexpectedly, there are five songs from the “Hippopotamomus” album, an album, let’s not forget, about sex for children!
The second disc begins with the title track “Hippopotamomus” and then goes into “Ventriloquists And Dolls” from the same album. With a slight acoustic detour to the Spanish sounding “Monsters Of Love”, the next two tracks (“A Monkey For Sallie” and “Bluestockings”) are also from the “Hippopotamomus” album. The latter two songs are exceptionally perverted classic Momus cuts. “A Monkey For Sallie” plays like a twisted, perverted children’s story as the narrator buys a monkey for his girlfriend but it ends up climbing under the covers and playing with his manhood. “Bluestocking” is extremely sexy and uses a sample from a classic 60s protest song (guess which one?) Here, the narrator is infatuated with the women because she is so literate. He then names classic and contemporary books ranging from Anaïs Nin and The Marquis de Sade; He even cheekily includes his own (“Lusts Of A Moron”, which is a collection of his lyrics).
The rest of the compilation is either from “Timelord” or “Voyager”, which were originally supposed to be released as one complete LP. From “Timelord” (the last Creation album), Momus was very intelligent with his choices. He included the opening “Platinum”, the emotional “Rhetoric” and the AIDS romance track “Enlightenment”. While at first, “Enlightenment” feels horrific, it truly is a cry for love. Momus sings
And tell me you’ll be there
If I ever find
I’ve only got one kidney left
And tell me you’ll be there
When I’ve only got one eye
And say that you’ll be there to care for me
When a wheelchair is my chair
You’ll be there upon the day I die…
Even though “Rhetoric” is a very emotional track, the intense beauty of “Breathless” would have been a better choice from “Timelord”.
From the “Voyager” LP, “Cibachrome Blue”, “Spacewalk”, “Summer Holiday 1999” and “Voyager” are included. Although these are all wonderful tracks, the title “Summer Holiday 1999” dates it a little (but not because of the music). “Vocation” and “Virtual Reality” were magnificent songs from the LP and it is a shame that they were not included. However, “Spacewalk” still sounds wonderful after all these years.
From the “Monsters Of Love” compilation, the songs “Monsters Of Love” and “Morality Is Vanity” are included, but it is a shame that the “Hotel Marquis De Sade” and “The Ballad Of The Barrel Organist” are not featured. The second disc ends with “Song In Contravention”, the same song that ended the “Hippopotamomus” LP.
One minor problem with the compilation is the track sequence. On the second disc could do with mixing the order up a little to stop it sounding too much like“Hippopotamomus”. And some song choices are a little perplexing. From “Hippopotamomus”, where is “I Ate A Girl Right Up” or “Marquis Of Sadness”? They are much more accessible and represent Momus better than “Song In Contravention” or even the title track, which should have been left off the compilation. From “Voyager”, the magnificent tracks “Vocation” and “Virtual Reality” are missing. Although the compilation choices are excellent songs, there are a plethora of better tracks that represent the Creation years better. “Spacewalk” (from “Voyager”) is an amazing techno house track but there was a remixed single version that should have been included here instead of the regular album track.
“Forbidden Software Timemachine” is a double CD compilation of Momus songs that gives a fair representation of his work on Creation Records. It must have been hard to choose 27 tracks out of 7 albums of wonderful tracks, but finally, these songs are available once more! While not everyone is a fan of Momus or can appreciate his wordy lyrics or feminine singing style, the talent just flows out of him. Occasionally, he goes over the listener’s head, sometimes he digs too deep into the dark side of the psyche, but he’s always a creative and entertaining artist with themes ranging from unrequited love, lying about homosexuality, loving the insane, masturbating animals, getting turned on because your lover is literate, and murder.
There was more money behind the Creation albums than the Momus albums of today. The production is thicker and the overall sound is more expensive. And while the recent Momus albums like “Folktronic”, “Oscar Tennis Champion”, and “Ping Pong” are still brilliant, there is something very different about the LPs that were released on Creation. Unfortunately, this compilation offers nothing new to the avid collector who has all of the Momus albums already. Perhaps, a third disc of outtakes and remixes would have been wise.
But for someone coming to Nick Currie’s music for the first time “Forbidden Software Timemachine” is a wonderful introduction to the world of Momus. So, step inside, because it is a sinister, perverted, and wild ride.
Forbidden Software Timemachine (2003)
Record Label: Cherry Red Records