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I murdered a pretty little bonsai tree - click opera
February 2010
 
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Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 12:00 am
I murdered a pretty little bonsai tree

Reading this blog, you might be forgiven for thinking that its author is an amateur sociologist, poseur, journalist, traveller, self-mediating slummy fashion pin-up, cultural commentator, rentable eccentric, and so on -- yet pass over the fact that he also makes pop records. But he does, and it's the main thing he's been doing for years and years. He even released one last month, an album called Ocky Milk. Never mind what our self-mediator has declared about it, though; what are other people saying?

On the whole, they're liking it very much, whether they're bloggers, skeptical music lovers on bulletin boards, or journalists. Here's what some reviewers have said:

"Ocky Milk is supremely welcome. It's as rich and enjoyable an album as Nick Currie's made in years: warm, funny, arch in most of the right places, made with an admirable integrity and a genuine playfulness—and, at long last, surprising." Theon Weber, Stylus magazine

"What’s immediately striking about the album is its quietness. Momus uses space and silence to great effect throughout the album." Brandon Bussolini, Dusted

"The pleasure of Momus's music lies in his peculiarly elegant, catchy brand of lo-fi; he's on dandy form here, as a conspiratorial, synth-pop storyteller on The Birdcatcher, camping it up on Frilly Military and blending spooky spoken-word incantations on Devil Mask, Buddha Mind." Arwa Haider, Metro

"The drifting quality of this record is very attractive, especially on the more inventive numbers such as the hazy, faintly sinister 'Dr Cat'," says Leo Chadburn in Playlouder. But his praise is qualified:

"There are, however, some mawkish moments, notably the sentimental 'Nervous Heartbeat' with its Japanese onomatopoeia... Similarly questionable is 'Count Ossie In China' on which Momus reprises the risible Jamaican accent I hoped never to hear again after his 1995 track 'The Madness of Lee Scratch Perry'."

Leo might like to know that I'd planned to include another song with a bad Jamaican accent on the album, but dropped it for this very reason. I've decided to let you hear the outtake today; it's down below. As I emailed a friend at the time, "I'll probably be slaughtered by the PC for doing a (bad) Jamaican accent and implying that Jamaicans are tree-murderers with knives. But who says it's a Jamaican accent? It's Imaginaican. And therefore it's only slandering my own imagination."

Actually, listening again to "Bonsai Tree" I think it's an interesting piece. Even Ocky Milk's outtakes had something good about them. And I can explain the accent: the "Imaginaican" is Welsh, see, blud. I mean... "boyo".

Bonsai Tree (Stereo mp3 file, 3MB, 3mins 17secs.)

Update: Here's Ishimaru's Miyagi Bonsai Shop Dub Remix.

69CommentReply

stanleylieber
stanleylieber
Stanley Lieber
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 11:17 am (UTC)

Ocky Milk hasn't grabbed me as immediately as Oskar and Otto both did. I like many of the songs, individually, a great deal, but the lack of variation in tempo over the length of the album makes it difficult for me to listen to the whole thing in one sitting. It may grow on me.

I still treasure Otto Spooky!


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dzima
dzima
ralf dziminski
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 11:56 am (UTC)

In Bonsai Tree, Momus has definitely gone Tricky on us (as I said before).


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tricky - (Anonymous) Expand

O no - (Anonymous) Expand

(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 11:41 am (UTC)

After your "Funky Forest" entry earlier this week you could have titled this one "Reggae Forest".

But wouldn't a Welsh "Imaginaican" be murdering leeks? Realistically, I mean.


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kineticfactory
kineticfactory
this is not your sawtooth wave
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 12:06 pm (UTC)

"But who says it's a Jamaican accent? It's Imaginaican. And therefore it's only slandering my own imagination."

That'd be the George Lucas defence?


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33mhz
33mhz
The Queen of Overdub Kisses
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 12:37 pm (UTC)

haha, oh wow. I hadn't considered that parallel.


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psychronic
grand trunk
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 12:09 pm (UTC)

This song is awesome, I love it mon!

Initially I would have agreed with Stanley Lieber in that Ocky isn't quite as good as Otto, but a couple of days ago I listened to Ocky all the way through on my headphones and I realised that I hadn't really heard it properly until then. It's a triumph! Otto Spooky is still perfect to me though, for some reason it all came together at exactly the right time...can you imagine a metalhead listening to it with a huge smile on his face?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 03:46 pm (UTC)

can you imagine a metalhead listening to it with a huge smile on his face?

I'll try!


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 12:49 pm (UTC)

Are you happy with sales?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 12:54 pm (UTC)

Well, I see I'm at 12 in the Darla Hot 100. I think I peaked at 6. I shall have to fall back on the old indie cliché: "We just make our records for ourselves. If anyone buys them, that's a bonus."


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand

qscrisp
qscrisp
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 01:00 pm (UTC)

I read that Leo Chadburn review. I can see where he's coming from, but personally, the accent didn't bother me. I seem to recall that I had a brief struggle with my artistic taste filter in my brain upon hearing Count Ossie in China, which went something like, "Do I suspend my disbelief? Okay, I do." And with that, the struggle was over, and I like the track very much.

After all, I suspended my disbelief similarly for Kate Bush when she did Cockney and Aussie accents on The Dreaming. As she sings on one of the tracks on that album, "We let the weirdness in". I generally find that life is more interesting when you do.

Thanks for the link.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 01:06 pm (UTC)
m

Hi momus protocol check


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 01:10 pm (UTC)
Re: m

Only use thin clients these days. Got no time for fat clients ok now that I said hello maybe ill go read what you wrote


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qscrisp
qscrisp
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 01:06 pm (UTC)
Mon

By the way, the Bonsai/Jamaican connection reminded me that Natsume Soseki was probably a fan of reggae, even giving one of his novels the title 'Mon'


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 01:19 pm (UTC)

There's a running theme on Ocky Milk which you could state as "What if Jamaica were floating in the Sea of Japan?" There are so many rasta-looking people in Japan that you sometimes think it already is. I spent the early part of 2005 living in a totally rasta house in Hokkaido, for instance, watching the film "Rockers" over and over.

And so I send Nyahbinghi drummer Count Ossie to China, or set a young dread loose in Japan, bringing his sensuality but also a certain psychopathology; he's murdering the bonsai trees.

The Japanese are fascinated by negritude, but also tend to equate foreigners with crime. This track ties up both of these "occidentalist" projections.


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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand


xishimarux
xishimarux
ishimaru
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 01:28 pm (UTC)

Bonsai Tree needed that electronic dub sound treatment. In fact... I just made a remix. :)

http://www.zshare.net/audio/bonsai-tree-miyagi-bonsai-shop-dub-remix-mp3.html


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 01:39 pm (UTC)

Hey, that's pretty good!

I worked on this song so much, because it was never quite right, and some of the mixes I did slowed the song down and dubbed it up, with some of the same effects you've used. It began to lose the sensuality and immediacy in those versions, though it gained in sinisterness. But yours is good! Nice extreme dubbing FX, and nice chop-up in the lyrics!


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC)

OT: Hey, Momster, what's up, where's your take on the recent spate of teenage suicides in J-wonderland? I want to see you spin that into something positive, a praise of close communities or something, respect for the other and all that.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 03:56 pm (UTC)
teenage suicide

Sigh if omly they could realize it gets better zzbn


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badspelling
badspelling
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 04:24 pm (UTC)

I guess the greatest irony is that while the reviewer takes issue with a persona that you're putting on, the reviewer himself uses both a pseudonym and and persona on a regular basis when working his 'real' dayjob.


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kineticfactory
kineticfactory
this is not your sawtooth wave
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 04:57 pm (UTC)
Remix album

On a tangent: have you thought of inviting some people to remix your tracks and releasing a remix album?


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rroland
rroland
rroland
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 05:39 pm (UTC)

i like permagasm very much, is that a track that Rusty had a hand in? I love what John did midway through. oh, btw i think it is a headphone LP, at least it works better for my aged ear that way.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 05:55 pm (UTC)

Yes, Rusty recorded Permagasm, then reworked it quite a lot, with the first verses all having a different placement of guitar and vocals. I edited several of the mixes together and did the transition at the end where it leads into "Permagasm". John reworked the whole thing and added his own sounds, like the bleeping before it goes into the drum section, and the repetition of "softer than the world".


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