Adopting the name Momus from the Greek god ousted from the heavens for his ridicule of Zeus, Currie first got his start singing in the Happy Family, which was briefly signed to 4AD in the early '80s. He landed on England's Creation label in the mid-'80s, putting out sardonic chamber/synth pop concept albums like 1988's Tender Pervert and the Gainsbourg-dedicated Hippopotamomus in 1991. The albums were praised artistically but came under fire by the tabloid-obsessed British press because of their overt sexual content, and he personally went under the gun for his marriage to his then-underage girlfriend.
In the mid-'90s, Currie pushed into an even wider range of experimental indie and electronic pop music as well as a Japan-fetish phase, finding success in Tokyo's Shibuya-kei hipster scene collaborating with artists like the Pizzicato Five and Cornelius as well as writing a string of hit songs for Japanese cutesy-pop sensation Kahimi Karie. In 1996 he released 20 Vodka Jellies, a summation of his current influences and collaborations that included a triphopped version of the Buzzcocks' "Orgasm Addict" and was produced by studio maestro Butch Vig.
In 1998, Little Red Songbook delved into his classical/futurist bent, a self-proclaimed "analog baroque" style. The album explored electronic gadgetry, samples, analog keyboards, and Munchausenesque themes, complete with instrumental karaoke tracks for a Momus parody contest. The record also contained a track about the electronic synth pioneer Wendy Carlos, the content of which landed Currie in legal battles. Currie used the lawsuit to his advantage, though, choosing to raise money by writing portrait songs commissioned for the going bid of $1,000 each, the results of which came out on 1999's Stars Forever.
Currie's latest effort, 2003's Oskar Tennis Champion, is yet another continuation of his collective themes, complete with songs like "My Sperm Is Not Your Enemy," "Electrosexual Sewing Machine," and "Is It Because I Am a Pirate?"
When I asked Currie where he finds balance between the pursuit of invention and human relations, he commented, "I think the dialogue between 'the eternal verities of the human heart' and 'the latest unprecedented techniques of cutting-edge technology' has always been at the heart of pop music. I've been very inspired by the way the Japanese combine a somewhat medieval lifestyle with futuristic gadgets and cityscapes, and I try to do something similar with my music. It's futuristic Shakespeare! Twenty-first-century vaudeville! Concrete variety! A playground for Kabuki robots!"
People seem to be either completely starry-eyed for Currie's tongue-in-cheek pastiche or hell-bent on burning him at the stake, which to me means a job well done. At the end of our conversation, Currie left me with the following quote from Cardinal Newman as inspiration: "All representations, whether accurate or not, are inherently pleasurable."
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On that note, the final Speaker Freak has come to a close.
It's been over a year and a half since I started the column, which translates to over 90 issues and probably five times as many parties, faces, and dance floors. All splendid affairs must come to an end, though, and like Donna Summer's tear-inducing and velour jump-suited climax on 1978's Thank God It's Friday, this is my "Last Dance!" As I type this, though, I'm simultaneously working out the final touches for my dance piece "Barons of the Prance," which has been commissioned by Michael Flatly's prestigious International School of Movement for the Well Endowed, but I'll be in touch, of course! The electro-knowledgeable Dave Segal will take over this space next issue, but before he does, I do want to thank everyone in the Seattle music and dance community who has helped to make this a successful column... I'll see ya at the party! xoxo NICOLAE WHITE
Momus w/Fashion Flesh, Purty Mouth, and Rroland, Thurs Aug 7 at Chop Suey, 1325 E Madison St, 324-8000, 9 pm-2 am, 21+, $8.