Uncut magazine
Momus
Oskar Tennis Champion
(Analog Baroque)

****
Exiled Scots maverick follows up 2001's Folktronic, now with added glitches.

This album could be retitled Kid A Meets Hanns Eisler And Ivor Cutler In Glitch Conference. Momus has enterprisingly employed young Michigan-based "reproducer" John Talaga to remix and generally mangle these 15 songs. This avant-laptop input helps Momus achieve his most purposeful work in some time.

The cabaret concrete approach works especially well on comedy noir tracks like "Is It Because I'm A Pirate?" or the bitter reproach of "Scottish Eyes" before the shadow of death makes itself brutally known ("Palm Deathtop"). There's even a tender tribute to legendary Scots vaudevillian entertainer Rikki Fulton ("The Laird of Inversnecky").

His best work since 1991's Hippopotamomus on Creation.

Marcello Carlin

Mojo magazine
Momus
Oskar Tennis Champion
(Analog Baroque)

Blurts, bleeps and a little Schubert from the man who would be Captain Hook.

One can only imagine the publishing windfall awaiting Nick Currie for the many cover versions of My Sperm Is Not Your Enemy to, as they say, come. Just one of the many pearls of wet wisdom on the latest from Britain's greatest living eyepatch-wearing songwriter, it represents Momus's next great conceptual leap: extreme collaborative filtering.

In this instance, the filter is John Fashion Flesh of the Super Madrigal Brothers, who took a hefty batch of new Momus songs and blooped, bleeped and blorted them until... voila, a remix album without the bother of releasing the original -- tracks of which can be downloaded from Currie's fascinating website.

As always, his need to achieve means deliberately downplaying his commercial side -- in this case burying the two catchiest tracks (The Last Communist and Pierrot Lunaire) midway through the album -- but the wit and intelligence rarely lets up.

And who can blame a man who hears "ARRR!!" every day of his life for writing a song called Is It Because I'm A Pirate?

Dave DiMartino

Q magazine
Momus
Oskar Tennis Champion
*** (3 stars)

Now in 'folktronic' mode, Nick Currie is still the master of weird, literary flights of fancy -- optimistic communists and sexual sewing machines both feature here. This time though, there's more music hall pastiche, a nod to Japan's Cornelius-associated Shibuya-kei pop and a laptop overhaul from Michigan's emerging John Talaga. As unique as ever.

Martin Aston

Logo Magazine (UK)
February 2003

Momus
Oskar Tennis Champion (Analog Baroque)

Arch wit, politics, Fluxus deconstructions, cum-tasting, classical baroque and Scottish vaudevillians: not source material regularly encountered in supposed electronica albums, but then, this is a Momus album. Typically, your fair share of oddly atmospheric bursts of cell-destroying mutant ringtones and triple-time glitch and burn terrorism is here, but Momus paints directly onto a whimsical canvas that has more in common with XTC than it does with Aphex Twin. 'A Little Schubert', for one, re-imagines the courts of the Viennese Emperors in a galaxy far far away, while any description of 'My Sperm Is Not Your Enemy' is liable to land this publication in court. Imagine if Falco fell through a wormhole with Andy Partridge and The Human League and landed in 1930's Berlin, and you're still only halfway there.

Alan Downes

30 Music
February 2003

Momus
Oskar Tennis Champion (American Patchwork)

Ah, Momus, still banging, so to speak. This eclectic eccentric, who is certainly among the most intriguing individuals in music, has had people scratching their heads for years. He could go in any direction at any time, and make any adjustments seem justified. He has proven he's capable of attempting nearly anything.

Oskar Tennis Champion brings a real Broadway meets synth-pop meets mild psychosis feel. It all comes together in a way that upholds Momus as a little loveable, and a little creepy. On the surface it would seem Momus has stolen a page from the Super Madrigal Brothers' book. In reality he stole a member, enlisting John Fashion Flesh to tweak the arrangements. Musically this seems a poor fit for Momus, but it may have been needed to maintain the quirky mood of this particular album.

The disc is very story oriented, but that's really been the root of Momus's appeal all along. The difference here is the instrumental backing isn't nearly as persuasive as in the past. It's very possible the instrumentation needed to be as it is on Oskar Tennis Champion ; it certainly complements the peculiar rants of this entertaining musical mind. The end result is likely to include a great amount of amusement, but falls quite short of inducing amazement.

Momus has established himself as a credible artist, and anyone who has even the most basic understanding of his past has no choice but to be interested in, and awaiting, his next move. This effort comes nowhere near his best work, though it does nothing to diminish his unique reputation - but at this point, there really isn't a whole lot that could.

Review written on 2003/02/25 by Brian

The Daily Telegraph
February 26th 2003

Live review

Just the ticket for a library
Sukhdev Sandhu reviews Momus at Wimbledon Library

Tessa Blackstone said recently that libraries need to become less bookish and more like record stores. Wimbledon Library has gone one step further and become a part-time pop venue.

The first artist in the Lyrics in Libraries series, curated by Praveen Manghani, was Momus, an inspired choice since - as befits someone named after the Greek god of mockery - he has long been one of the most literate and provocative songwriters in Britain.

Recording for cool labels such as 4AD, El and Creation, becoming the foremost interpreter of Jacques Brel's songs, he is routinely cited by arty, Europhiliac pop groups such as Pulp, Saint Etienne and the Pet Shop Boys. Yet he's more feted abroad than in the UK, where his self-conscious intellectualism fell out of favour during the New Lad 1990s.

Still, as Momus (real name Nicholas Currie) skips on stage to play songs from his forthcoming Oskar Tennis Champion album it's hard not to laugh at how puny he looks. So thin that his trousers keep falling down, he leaps around daintily, like a court jester with a PhD.

The song titles alone - Is it Because I'm a Pirate? or My Sperm is not Your Enemy - have the audience in stitches.

Between songs, Momus invokes prime exponents of the chanson tradition such as Brel and Jake Thackeray. Like them, he deals with character-based stories, though of a fantastic rather than a realist nature. His sonics are more inventive too. Elements of kabuki and Scottish music hall bump and grind against the pops and clicks of electronic glitch music. These mutant collisions, initially rather awkward, soon create a kind of anything-goes euphoria.

Yet there's a certain sadness in the air tonight. He sings an old song called Enlightenment whose lines "Tell me you'll be there/ When I've only got one eye" seem appallingly prescient, given that he was later to lose an eye due to an infected contact lens.

New numbers, The Last Communist and A Little Schubert, also have a noticeably crepuscular feel. Saddest of all for the packed crowd, however, is knowing that their left-field hero, has yet to be honoured in his homeland. His time will come.

Baby Sue
March 2003

Momus
Oskar Tennis Champion (CD, Darla, Pop)

Underground recording artist Momus goes all over the place...with his music and with the place that he calls home. Originally born in Scotland, Momus eventually made his way to the United States...only to become disenchanted with the country. He currently calls Tokyo his home, which is where Oskar Tennis Champion was recorded. Momus' entire career seems to evolve around doing things his own unique way. His music doesn't follow the path of others, nor do his career moves. While this album is almost certain to please Momus fans...it isn't likely to make its way into the Billboard charts anytime soon. Momus tunes are experimental pop laced with tricky electronics and melodies that are strangely haunting. These compositions are peculiar and subtle. They slowly invade the subconscious of the listener only after they have been spun several times. Listeners are likely to spend countless hours attempting to determine the meaning of lyrics in tunes like "Scottish Lips" and "Electrosexual Sewing Machine." Slightly spooky and ultimately tempting, this music is unlike anything else out there. (Rating: 4+++)

Philadelphia Weekly
March 2003

Momus
Oskar Tennis Champion (American Patchwork)

What a long, strange road it's been for Momus. From his first incarnation as a one-man Simon and Garfunkel for perverts to his more recent dabblings as Shibuya-Kei svengali and computer Tchaikovsky, his resume reads like a hardbound edition of Trends Erroneously Once Heralded in The Face. Stranger still, then, that some of his work has actually been great. And since the Scot has been in self-imposed exile in Tokyo post-9/11, he's been ambitious indeed. Oskar Tennis Champion is the third in a trilogy of Momus albums since his move that have tried to integrate two fairly disparate interests--experimental, glitchy laptop stuff and the guy's own weird worldview that forever ponders things like, you know, the social significance of facial cumshots, global cuisine and saying dirty things in German. To that end, I wouldn't really recommend trying to dance to Oskar Tennis Champion , but if you're looking for something that sounds like a seriously messed up sequel to the soundtrack of A Clockwork Orange , then hey, you're in business. Like his disparate panel of left-field heroes, Momus is best appreciated in the music-as-literature vein: It's sly, unforgiving and every once in a while, sickly funny.

Frontiers Magazine (LA)
March 28 2003

Momus
Oskar Tennis Champion (American Patchwork/Darla)

Have you ever wondered what it sounds like in the mind of a madman? The new album from Momus, 'Oskar Tennis Champion', gets about as close as one can imagine. Defying every kind of categorization, Momus is a genre unto himself -- not quite electroclash, but still utilizing all of those silly sounding analog keyboard patches (and he openly professes his love of laptop groups like Scratch Pet Land and DAT Politics), not quite baroque, but his borrowing of classical chord progressions hints at a more-than-average familiarity with the style. His song structures follow the pop-song format, but have been stretched to include vaudeville and longer narratives. The production (helmed by John Talaga, aka Fashion Flesh) creates a schizophrenic air that seems 'natural' for themes of the songs.

Wandering from stories about pirates picking up waitresses ('Is It Because I'm A Pirate?') to deformed heroes of old ('Beowulf'), one gets the impression that this is a very well-read artist on a history jag, and his lyrical vocabulary might have you reaching for your dictionary. He seems fascinated with politics ('The Last Communist'), and sex, too; there are many references throughout and whole songs devoted to sperm worship ('My Sperm Is Not Your Enemy') and non-monogamy ('Multiplying Love'). All through, Momus' voice is like the bratty little brother of Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, with its affected accent and nasal quality. Is he gay or straight? I'm not sure, and not sure if we need to know (or want to, for that matter). It's enough to know that Momus as an artist is clearly twisted. No one juxtaposes so many influences as radically as this, bouncing from singing in German to referencing Japanese culture, with such successful results. In the tradition of the old novelty hit 'They're Coming To Take Me Away', this is definitely a crazy, everything-and-the-kitchen-sink album that is sure to find an audience with the adventurous. If you're not feeling up to the challenge, beware.

Chris Freeman

Amazon.com
Customer Reviews
Avg. Customer Review: 5 stars

Momus Goes American
March 15, 2003
Reviewer: Carlos Macintosh from New York, NY

In his boldest stylistic departure since "Howard Hughes" (his embrace of Seattle grunge. Momus's, that is, not Howard Hughes's), Nick Currie AKA Momus presents the sound of ... Bay City, Michigan?! Yes, believe it or not, of all places. For his first album released on his own new American Patchwork label, Momus confounds expectations with this collection of remixes by a 22-year-old with the Warholesque surname Flesh who lives in the birthplace of Madonna and Agent Orange (the Vietnam War toxic chemical, not the band). But in riposte to his earlier lyric "Tell me I'm allowed to play the Fender Jaguar/Like the Velvet Underground" Momus has now fathered (or grandfathered? through the ersatz son named Flesh?) his own take on Lou Reed's legendary METAL MACHINE MUSIC. OSKAR TENNIS CHAMPION is intended to be difficult listening. And in terms of commercial appeal, it makes FOLKTRONIC sound like Madonna! But Momus's own take on Andy Warhol has been "In the future everyone will be famous for 15 people." I'm not sure there are 15 people in the world who would rate this album five stars, but I will - out of respect for Momus's unflinching nerve, and not being afraid to contradict himself. And who knows? Word has it that he's now following in the footsteps of Iggy Pop (whose "Success" he reprised in "Lolitapop Dollhouse"). Momus still has Lust For Life! What will he come up with next?

a new direction
March 14, 2003

Reviewer: Dave Hauslein from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania United States

This is the first album Momus has put out since he's moved to Tokyo, and it is very different from anything you might have heard while he was working in Europe and the United States. OTC covers alot of the same ground Momus has explored in the past lyrically, but musically he continues to reinvent himself. Much of the music on this album is kind of non-linear, and yet somehow catchy, and filled with hooks. It is experimental, and thoroughly enjoyable. Other adjectives: witty, sad, whimsical, post-modern, transcendent, etc...

alt.fan.momus
Review by x.y.zedd

Pardon me please for succumbing to the temptation of trying to soundprofound, but such is the way one's mind works when one wakes in themiddle of the night to the sound of sirens, in a distant city, in thistime of unprecedented fear and folly. (I'd also just witnessed afriend's opera, which was inspired partly by Odysseus' pre-emptivestrike against Ismarus, the "earliest recorded violation ofinternational justice.") "Oskar" is not at all as pretentious as Imight make it seem in this rambling lucubration, though I would stillargue that it is not just another Momus album!

(What I wrote in the middle of the night, last night, follows.)

On the eve of the day on which the world as we know it will end, Ilisten to "Oskar Tennis Champion" for the first time. Less than 24hours before the bombs begin to drop on Baghdad, I shut out thelights, plug in, and lose myself to the sounds and the words. Afterit is all over, I am unable to sleep for more than a few minutes at atime.

Now the 21st century really begins, and I am as disturbed by the darkbeauty of "Oskar" as I was once disturbed by the likes of Duchamp orCage when I was a teenager -- long ago, in another century. Tonight, I remind myself, art was born of violence -- the first humans made jewelry out of bones and painted in blood. The first songs chanted around funeral pyres were odes to fallen heroes and recreations of the rhythms of battles and death blows. And no matter how funny the lines or jolly some of these new tunes, I feel a murmuring despair within the heart of all these compositions. Here is the sound of things falling apart: the songs dismantle themselves even as they playthemselves out: like an idiot taking apart a radio that keeps on singing, the "reproduction" tries its best to reduce the music to pure sound; little discombobulated bits of melodies and choruses re-coagulate here and there, only to dissolve and decay once again. Meaning fights the inevitable nihilism of structuralist theory: the word will survive Armageddon, or we will cease to mean or be at all.

Beauty always perishes in the most terrible ways: monuments crumble,paint peels, ink fades, discs corrode, we all grow old and die.

On the eve of war, I am reminded of sonic touchstones of my childhood,the Vietnam era๗the howling, shrieking textures of Morton Subtonik's"The Wild Bull", the horrors embedded in Ilhan Mimaroglu's sound poem,"Wings of the Delirious Demon," the apocalypse at the center of Stockhausen's early tape experiments. Works that evolved from fear and dissolved into despair. I hear echoes of Halim El-Dabh's "Leiyla Visitations" -- the same disembodied, mournfully manipulated voices and violent alterations of sound. We are being pulled apart. We are being boiled alive. I hear the futurist principles of musique concrete imploded by the power of human emotion -- and what Nabokov wryly called "laughter in the dark."

This is not an album I could multitask to or play to amuse skeptical friends. All the reasons I admire it will be the same reasons it will be criticized and likely destined to commercial failure. It's too hermetic, it exists just to please itself (and ears like mine). It dares at a time when we dare not even consider the future any longer. My friends and I no longer talk of art, but of a coming police state and endless replays of death and destruction. Perhaps this is music for future funerals.

Momus recently stated that "America" was missing in or from his music, but that's technically impossible -- for his music, like almost all 20th-century "popular" music of course owes a strong debt to the great triumvirate of musics that grew out of the States over the last century: blues, jazz, and rock. Africa was a long time in the past. Eurasia will always be a dream. But Oskar is from another continent altogether (Antarctica?), and we only glimpse America on the far horizon -- and Europe, despite Schubert, despite the (analog) Baroque, seems displaced, lost, shrouded in Scottish mists. Maybe we're even on another planet, though it seems no safer than our own: at any moment a tender lyric will be blown to bits by glitches and mechanical breakdowns. Is the court jester really as sad as he makes me feel tonight?

I won't be able to listen to this collection of songs the way I do other Momus albums. It is challenging me to approach its art in a new way, and I will have to change to better appreciate and understand it. The way I had to change after hearing The Sex Pistols or reading "Ulysses" for the first time. This is what all art that rises above the cacophony of the temporary and trendy and merely mainstream must ask of us. I consider this challenge both a privilege and a necessity, if I am to go on living in a world where if, we are not careful, all things of such terrible beauty will be lost just assurely as so many of the ancient treasures of Mesopotamia, the oldest country on earth --older than "old Europe," older than capitalism or communism -- will be irretrievably lost.

I have no idea what this has to do with the game of tennis or JacquesTati or funny uncles from America, but I want to keep on listening and discovering a better world in which to live.

And if "The Last Communist" doesn't deserve to be the new "Internationale", I'll never buy another CD again.


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