Momus as the Earl of Amiga
by Erin Hucke
Momus is one of those unsung geniuses; a singer/songwriter deserving of recognition he rarely receives in the United States. During the month of March 2000, Momus appeared every Wednesday at the Knitting Factory's Knitactive soundstage with a show just left of the norm.
Outfitted in a red-plaid kilt, a tweed jacket and a long black, baroque wig, Momus appeared as "the Earl of Amiga," presenting a show called "Electronics in the Eighteenth Century."
The Knitactive soundstage, part of the famous Knitting Factory, was specially constructed to hold Webcasts. This show was no different. The room was small and cave-like, with computer parts plastered into the back wall. Less than 30 chairs were crowded together in the back half of the room, leaving plenty of space for Momus to jump about, and plenty of gap for the cameras to keep the audience out of frame. Momus stood in front of a green screen, while images of stereotypical German cuckoo clock-type houses and dancing men in lederhosen appeared behind him on a video screen to the side of the room and out to Internet audiences all over the world. He cued up backtracks of his songs on an orange I-Book, and occasionally turned knobs and poked keys on his synthesizer.
"Electronics in the Eighteenth Century" elaborated on the concept of how time travel has been happening secretly for ages, allowing prominent historical figures to vacation in different centuries. He told of the Marquis de Sade who set up a Web site in his spare time in the 1700s. He spoke of how Rousseau had a passion for playing Pong, but was capable only during lightning storms that provided intermittent electricity.
Time travel also allows for endless pre-promotion. Momus explained how metal statues of dogs, erected for loyalty to their masters, in Edinburgh, Scotland and Japan, had been gaining human respect and admiration for centuries. Time travel revealed, this had just a cheap promotional tool set up by Sony to ensure people would hold an affection for their new metal dog, the Aibo robot.
Momus linked these stories with songs like "London, 1888," "Tinnitus" and "Jeff Koons," a biographic song from his latest album, Stars Forever, about artist Jeff Koons. (Momus was certain Koons had been vacationing in the 18th century for some time.)
Stars Forever is a story in itself. To save his label, Le Grand Magistery, from bankruptcy, Momus wrote songs for his fans at the cost of $1000 per song. This arrangement led to some of the catchiest and memorable songs Momus had written.
"Electronics in the Eighteenth Century" is a perfect example of Momus's boundless creativity. Don't miss out on these performances. Check out the Webcasts at http://www.knitactive.com. Or read more about "Electronics in the Eighteenth Century" at Momus's official Web site: http://www.demon.co.uk/momus.