June 12th, 2009



If I were to link to a bootleg mp3 of the 50-minute documentary 700 Minutes with a Flaneur: The Modern Life of the Scottish Artist Momus, transmitted over the terrestrial German public radio network on the 27th of February this year, it might be for the following reasons, and with the following provisos:

* I'd say, first of all, that I was delighted with this programme, and how it angled Click Opera and its themes in the direction of a specifically German romanticism, idealism, protestantism, even mysticism. (No, that's not Jesus on the left, it's a Dürer self-portrait, and therefore perhaps the most famous German image of an artist.)

* I'd say that since the content of the hörspiel originates in Click Opera entries, there's a kind of organic, ecological symmetry to the fact that it should end up back here, and that since one of the main themes of the documentary is digital flow, it's completely apt that it should itself flow.

* I'd say that releasing this bootleg today is appropriate because the juxtaposition with yesterday's Cherry Red interview is a telling one; Katharina Teichgräber's elegant sonic articulation is a more arty, immersive way to present my ongoing projects, intimate and evocative in the way only radio can be.

* I'd point out that whereas the Cherry Red interview mostly concentrated on the past, 700 Minutes is focused on the present and the future.

* I'd want to stress that Katharina Teichgräber, the author of this piece, has not approved the bootlegging.

* I'd underline that the programme was aired back in February without warning, missed by most interested parties here in Germany, and not repeated.

* I'd caution that the show is, of course, in the German language, but say that it's texturally rich enough to be interesting nevertheless, and contains chunks of interview (with, amongst others, Bob Stein from if:book) in English.

* I'd add that I very willingly pay the Deutschlandfunk's hefty license fee. Just yesterday I was round at my friend Jan's flat, and from his little kitchen radio came the most incredibly beautiful, sober, spiritual music -- a programme in which 16th century European music was mixed with Japanese traditional music, inspired by the voyages of the monk Francis Xavier. Deutschlandfunk, of course.

* I'd say that the measured, clear, super-civilised tones of this station really take me to another planet, and that when Deutschlandfunk turns its attention to Momus and Click Opera it puts them on a different planet too. Momus becomes Albrecht Dürer, and Click Opera his meticulous drawing of a hare (Pok, perhaps?).

* I'd say the best British radio parallel I can think of would be the work of producer Piers Plowright, whose Radio 3 documentaries about artists employed the music of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. His Paul Klee feature Going For A Walk With A Line, with music by the late Malcolm Clarke, really changed my life back in 1979. In the 700 Minutes programme Clarke's music is evoked by the snatches of Ursula Bogner music, a project in which Jan Jelinek was -- for sure -- consciously evoking the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

* Blushing slightly and dreading the inevitable vanity-slashing Twit Opera jibes, I might quote the programme blurb, translated from German:

700 Minutes with a Flaneur
The Modern Life of the Scottish Artist Momus

By Katharina Teichgräber

"Slender, with a penchant for wristbands, blonde wigs and Japanese pants -- this is the musician and performer Momus. His blog, started in 2004, has been ranked amongst the best in the world. When Momus is, for example, riding a bike without brakes, he might be thinking about the architecture the Americans have erected in Baghdad and Berlin, or the modern forms of aesthetic asceticism. He might be thinking about a Japanese Bin Laden seduced by 'food porn', or about 'emotional communism' from Walter Benjamin and John Berger to Karl Kraus and Brian Eno. The ideas in his blog entries, illustrated with beautiful pictures and movies, come to him during early morning baths. Some find Momus' immense classical education disconcerting; others see him as a semi-legendary, ironic post-New Wave experimental pop musician who makes CDs with dirty lyrics (according to The New Yorker). But Momus is indoors and out. He talks happily about "constant flow", and spends a few hours a day in the chair in front of his iMac. For in the end, his homeland is the net."

* I might add that though I never achieved, in my music career, that tense, electric moment when a hush descends on the thousands waiting in the arena as the revered band picks its way across a stage lit only by amplifier lights, I did achieve this. (I say this in case my plane to Athens crashes later today.)

* I'd probably end by saying how happy this radio feature made me, and how its sympathetic treatment of Click Opera vindicates a page -- a "probe", as McLuhan would have put it -- you and I launch daily. I'd like it to make you happy too. This was Click Opera's moment on the Deutschlandfunk. We were heroes... just for one day.