Once upon a time, Creation Records had an idiosyncratic roster of artists: the ethereal beauty of Heidi Berry, the late, great Nikki Sudden and, oddest of them all: Nicholas Currie - AKA Momus. It felt like a perfect place for the misfit to thrive.
It was a promising start. There were thought provoking gems, including 'What will death be like?' the candid 'A Complete History of Sexual Jealousy (Parts 17-24)' and the Pet Shop Boys-esque single' Hairstyle of the Devil' (that peaked at a dizzying 94 in the charts!). Then it got odd...
For his third album ('Don't Stop the Night'), his characters had become a grotesque cast of pimps, necrophiliacs and child molesters. His music was getting disturbingly dark and twisted and the follow-up 'Hippopotamomus' received a damning zero out of ten in the NME. Probably to his perverse delight.
By 1994, Creation had become the home to the cartoonish swagger of Oasis, not to mention the rise of the risible Primal Scream. In this environment, a man channeling his passions for Serge Gainsbourg and the Marquis de Sade was hopelessly out of place. So he left. But where did he go?
Reports were sketchy, he changed labels, he moved around a lot, finally ending up in Japan. He lost sight in one eye, he was sued for libel by Wendy Carlos and, on the day that David Bowie came out of hiding with a new single, Momus recorded and released his own version. So Nick, Where are we now?
To my surprise, Momus has released a prolific number of albums in recent years, all with unfathomable titles like 'Glyptothek', 'Scobberlotchers' and, this month, Pillycock. I feel that it may now be time to re-enter the strange and uncomfortable world of Momus.
Upon first listen, 'Pillycock' is a disorienting experience. I feel like I have wandered into an intimate gathering in a room above a book shop. Momus is playing to a new, devoted crowd. He is sat behind an array of keyboards that make off kilter and drunken noises and, to my distress, something is making a sound like a hurdy gurdy. Songs like 'Macbeth' and 'Charcoal' are impenetrably hard to follow. I feel awkward, I shouldn't be here anymore and I think that I should make my excuses and leave.
But I persist and, fortunately, the dry wit that first endeared me to Momus is all over '2009' -a tale of a stalking ex-lover, whilst the bitter (autobiographical?) 'Eurotrash', moves from anger to sadness in a surprising profound manner . The title track is a familiar comic cacophony and the closer 'Scuttle' is as mystifying as it is hysterical.
I'm relieved. Momus's light is undiminished and, apparently he's big in Japan! The sly/seductive/disturbing voice is still intact, as are the lyrics that once caused former label mates The Jazz Butcher to describe him as a 'boring old pervert' (and where are they now?).
He still has a remarkable ability to provoke, delight, enrage, confound and infuriate. I'm delighted to have remade his acquaintance.
Hairstyle of the Devil
Jason Lewis is a Birmingham based music, movie and arts obsessive. Jason's encyclopedic knowledge of 80s/90s Arts films is a debt to his embedded status in the Triangle Arts Centre trenches back then.