October 30th, 2005


We will, we will... well, scratch your back, actually

Rusty Santos arrives from New York on November 16th to begin recording and production work on the new Momus album, code-named at various points "The Friendly Album", "This Is Cute Formalism", and "Scaramouche The Shepherd", so I'm struggling to get my broken equipment fixed. Rusty requested a photo of the working environment, and here it is:

Here are some ideas I've been sending Rusty in e-mails.

"I already have in mind some Dogme-like "rules of chastity", like for instance:

* No more than two instrument / human voices can sound at any one time, one melody line and one accompaniment line, a bit like Japanese folk songs with shamisen and voice.
* But a constant turnover of instruments and timbres to relieve the monotony.

So the effect would be like having a big orchestra playing very minimal arrangements. It would sound like just two instruments at a time, but over time you would realise that there was a big pool of instruments there.

The emotional tone colours of the record will be about connectedness, friendliness, wholesomeness, positivity, happiness, collectivity, constructiveness. People think of grief and negativity as "depth" and positive themes as "superficial", and for this reason a happy record is very hard to make. But I think the idiotic happiness (sound of turtle doves cooing!) can be offset by formal things, like for instance:

* Structure of pieces determined by length of sections, and length of sections determined by chance operations (Cage-style).
* Tune the acoustic guitar to an odd tuning that's microtonal.

I'd like to record a lot of vocal phrases, multi-tracked, and lay them down on the HD recorder without anything except a click. That's (sort of) the way I worked with Anne Laplantine, and I liked the results. It's like going out into the dark, building a plank walkway as you go.

I want to make a very pleasant, breezy, but also radically experimental record. Some reference points:

* Ozu films.
* The ethnological museums out at Dahlem (we can go and see them, there's a great ethnomusicology section).
* "Araça Azul" by Caetano Veloso.
* Webern's "Five Pieces for Orchestra" (just for the arrangement style, where a single delicate note comes in from one instrument, and that's it, the instrument isn't heard from again).
* Harry Partch.
* Rinko Kawauchi's photos.
* The colours of Tibet and Jamaica.

And—this may sound silly, but it's clear in my mind as what the record should feel like—you know when someone's scratching your back and you feel totally relaxed and calm and secure, and your mind wanders to pleasant thoughts? Well, that's what I want this record to sound like. We have to find a way to scratch our listeners' backs!"