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I murdered a pretty little bonsai tree - I murdered a pretty little bonsai tree - click opera Page 2 — LiveJournal
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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


(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 05:57 pm (UTC)

Why do some people find it "questionable" for a white man to do a fake Jamaican accent? It's not like Momus is ridiculing Jamaicans in either of those songs. Do some people really find it offensive?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 06:31 pm (UTC)

I think that insecurity, or a sense that some groups are "victims", leads to a kind of paranoid hypersensitivity which assumes that all references to the group in question must be slights, and should be elided. So we remove all references which don't go the extra mile to make "semantic amends" for inequality in the form of suspiciously fulsome praise.

An example of the effect of this is that all labels for black people will eventually be considered offensive: "coloureds", "negroes", "blacks", "African-Americans"... They shift, but as long as stigma is assumed to inhere in the group, each label
in turn will be tainted, and will have to be abandoned.

But it isn't just labels -- and this is where things get alarming. Soon enough all representations of the group will have to go too, all references. No more gollywogs, no more bushmen, no more rastas. What remains is silence... and the suspicion that speech has been fixed so that society doesn't have to be. Semantic inequality has been hidden so that existing inequality doesn't have to be addressed.

This silence, no matter how well-intentioned (if the avoidance of embarrassment can be called a good intention) is worse than the slander which preceded it. It's a new form of being "untouchable". It's a new stigma, a new class marker. "I must be careful what I say. Better not say anything."

It isn't just this specific group that becomes invisible and unspeakable. Groups in general are thereby effaced. There's, allegedly, just "the individual" and "everyone in the world", with nothing in between.


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(Anonymous)
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 10:39 pm (UTC)
Outakes

I like this and have no problem with the accent or your character vocalisations. My wife has ordered "Ocky" for my birthday, so looking forward to getting the album.

Isn't your George Formby outake from "Otto" on the new album, and wasn't "Lady Fancy Knickers" an outake from "Oscar" ? So maybe this song will make it onto the next album..

Richard


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 11:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Outakes

Yes, songs that don't fit one record often fit the next. Not sure about this one, though.

Happy birthday, I hope you like the record!


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xinit
xinit
the artist formerly known as the geek
Thu, Nov. 23rd, 2006 11:59 pm (UTC)

Somehow I missed the release. Emusic to the rescue.

Thanks.


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jip
jip
Jip de Kort
Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 12:36 am (UTC)

Dank je wel! http://musicbrainz.org/show/release/?releaseid=567985

And it looks like i'm getting a cheap left-over trainride
this weekend to Berlin. Any suggestions for colorfull places
to visit to get over my winter depression?


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xishimarux
xishimarux
ishimaru
Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 05:20 am (UTC)

Wow thats wierd. The music gets posted, I make a remix and its on musicbrainz by the end of the day. Awesome.


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lobsterbelle
lobsterbelle
-
Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 02:38 am (UTC)

Whooohoo free music. Where would the internet be without it?


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tundraboy
tundraboy
tundraboy
Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 03:21 am (UTC)

While digging through some old papers, I ran across these photos my Japanese friend gave me featuring you and he in NYC, circa early 2000s. I'm sure you have copies, but:




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(Anonymous)
Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 06:30 am (UTC)
zzbn here

Hi momus just woke up here. In PST. Am listening to AValanche coming down the mountain thin client


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 07:45 am (UTC)
Re: zzbn here

I wonder. What it means to only have net access via opportunistic handheld


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 07:01 am (UTC)

Myspace is down stole a gun last nite. Walked out of nimby with an unattended weapon. Then an exbf. Came over. He's. Like where's the gun


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 01:03 pm (UTC)

Momus, are you seriously happy with the attention Ocky Milk has been getting? I mean, a forum thread or two, a blog here, a Pitchfork-wannabe there... it's not exactly blanket coverage, is it? My kid brother's myspace electronica does as well. Not in any of the music mags (that I can find), not in Wire, not even in Pitchfork, let alone national newspapers or anything like that. While at the same time someone like Green Gartside gets a Mercury nomination. It's not a bad album, I guess you deserve better.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Fri, Nov. 24th, 2006 01:40 pm (UTC)

Naturally I would like Ocky Milk to get wider exposure. I would like reviews in The Wire and Pitchfork and so on. I'd like to be nominated for the Mercury. But why get bitter, or envy someone like Green Gartside? Is Green in the Whitney Biennial? Does he publish books about photography, or appear in anthologies of emerging visual artists like Phaidon's "Ice Cream"? Does he have his own column in Wired News? And so on...

Being an artist is a bit like being a viscous liquid (take your pick of which one) or an eel: you simply ooze into the spaces available, and you assume the shape of the cultural containers you find. I'm a liquid that can fit the beakers and petri dishes of art, music, and writing -- and perhaps if I'd had big success in one of them I'd voluntarily have committed myself to its limitations -- but I sort of like seeping from one to the other. It makes me feel free. I can escape the socialisation that goes on, the restrictive gatekeepering, the petty resentments and politics, and so on. I feel the same about states: I like to ooze from one state to another. I like to avoid feeling Oedipal about authority figures in any given state. They aren't worth getting worked up about, and if you do expend emotional energy on them you quickly find that your cathexis includes uncomfortable amounts of foolish puppy love.

Of course utter freedom is impossible, and you need context to give your work meaningful shape. But I think you can snatch a bit of context, a bit of shape, from one world and take it into the other. I really feel that that's what I've been doing for the past decade or so. I quoted the song "Lady Fancy Knickers" the other day, a line about "a new theory of everything -- a tub of custard, a manky carpet and a piece of string". The custard, carpet and string came directly from a review of an installation in an art magazine, but I put them into a pop song. The danger of living only in the world of pop is that you'd be taking stuff from pop and putting it into pop -- the mawkish songwriting conventions of your competitors, a little dialogue with your critics in the press, a tip of the hat to your musical heroes in the past. And that's how a lot of pop music sounds now... and I wouldn't even exempt Scritti Politti's new album, alas.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Nov. 25th, 2006 06:08 am (UTC)
momus

Here is how we will save the world. Excited. U move to Japan ill handle the west. I can't run for office but I know some important people.I stand up on a ledge and say if ü don't take the troops out tomorrow I will call out the militia. Meanwhile I diffuse Jim q yer cute charm. Ok hello bye from zz


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Nov. 25th, 2006 01:34 pm (UTC)

I read your writing before I sleep at night. What does that mean. Ok yes am manic but have been taking the meda. Take me


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Nov. 26th, 2006 06:10 pm (UTC)

The thing about livejournal? How do you exporto I'm a librarin I think about these things


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Nov. 26th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)

Just got yelled ATL. It hurts. He has red hair. I hate all men


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loins_of_loihi
loins_of_loihi
Mon, Nov. 27th, 2006 02:23 am (UTC)
Heeeere's Theon! (Stylus Magazine review-man, Theon Weber)

Heeeere's Theon! (Stylus Magazine review-man, Theon Weber), By Dint of his Friend and Fellow Click Opera reader, Tomas Sanchez

Theon Weberre is a close compatriot and an entirely willing and able writer (as compared to my own written output, which tends to resemble more of a kind of willful dabbling) whose own LiveJournal can be read at this place in pixelised space:
WWW.livejournal.com/~inuxx

In fact, here are several (They could have been Tiger Beat worthy, Theon!) photographs of Theon Weber climbing a ladder near a beautiful hidden waterfall in the highlands of Hilo, on the Big Island of Owyhe'e:

http://flickr.com/photos/hilotomas1/255547812/

and another photo, this one of Theon Weber looking Superflat (almost as if his image has been collaged in) along the pretty path to said secret place:

(hint: it's in Pi'ihonua, if you ever find yourself voyaging to the Big Island of Hawaii. I mean you! Momus!):

http://flickr.com/photos/hilotomas1/255547813/

Offering an artist the ability to see informal photos of their reviewer feels like putting a left foot in, then a right foot in and over the four foot high fourth wall that the internet presents. The fourth wall's height and density is kept reasonable by Google. So lets do the Hokey Pokey (or the Clicky Picky, if you'd like) and push both of our dancing feet through the tissue thin wall that separates artist from reviewer-artist, what will come up if you Google the names of the other reviewers who, by dint of the relatively limited amount of reviews available (What is the situation with Pitchfork Magazine and reviewing your records, anyways? I've waited for an Otto Spooky review, and I'm waiting for Ocky Milk...and not in a Samuel Beckett sense, since I've already purchased this album and have composed my own mental notes on it; this being the first Momus album I've purchased, and the first Compact Disc I've purchased in quite a while), are well involved in shaping the public opinion of your records? I envision research into reviewer's web identities commencing. And to think I starred in Theon Weber's (the Stylus magazine reviewer) 2003 full-length feature, Zig-Zag (which opened to considerable applause and continued critical acclaim in the sharply restored and very, very welcome art-house theater of Hilo, The Palace Theater.)

More information on Zig-Zag, and Theon Weber, available here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theon_Weber

Theon, if you're reading this, you should mail Momus a copy of Zig-Zag for him to review, or upload it to YouTube or Google Video (Does anyone use Google Video?) in segments, to place it in the annals of internationally accessible eternity offered by the Internet, assuming that all the servers remain and live and live and live forever, or at least long enough to constitute Eternity. Ideally, what is placed on the internet is Eternal! Ideally, the internet's servers are Eternal! Ideally, widespread war and the sequential destruction of these servers is not imminent. This journal, CLick Opera, has healed my psyche and heart again and again, like a pure clear LCD spring of supernaturally curative water in the midst of the occasionally tangled and tough 16-bit forest of Moronic Cynicism and Moronic Moronicism that forms part of the social landscape of Hawaii Life in the Oughties. You keep my machete sharpened and glistening bright, the fresh brisk enlivening current of wisdom and enlightenment you offer is made eternal by all who choose to embody what you share. Ocky for eight, 8 for infinite, Milk for nourishment (I'll consider it rice milk born from an udder somehow to retain the udder sexuality of the idea and yet to still mesh with my Lactose Intolerance. Click Opera, and its Infinite (Non-Dairy) Milk, never makes my eyes itch or causes my nose to sneeze again and again, thereby driving many away. Your milky current I always welcome into my stream, along my meridian. You offer me joyful gain and increased awareness. Mahalo and Aloha Nui Loa


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loins_of_loihi
loins_of_loihi
Thu, Nov. 30th, 2006 06:46 am (UTC)
Experimental Sentimentality

That's quite a run-on sentence I used in that first main paragraph.

Won't you respond?


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loins_of_loihi
loins_of_loihi
Mon, Nov. 27th, 2006 02:25 am (UTC)


None of the reviewers seem to note that the track "The Birdcatcher" is a re-done version of your earlier song "The Kitten's Telephone" (The Kitten learns to hunt birds, the kittens grow cute translucent claws and learn to taste a bird's blood) from your 1996 CD-ROM Stop This!, http://www.phespirit.info/momus/19960104.htm.

Consider yourselves lucky, collectors (Because for good reason I consider Momus items to be collectible, maybe for far, far in the future, but collectible, yes) and other owners of this interactive CD-ROM, after a search on Amazon and EBay, I have returned 0 results. Does anyone know if this album is available at all in the year 2006? Interactive CD-ROM media must have been rather fresh in 1996, and I still consider it so today. Does anyone know of any other musicians who have released inter-active CD-ROMs? I don't mean a feature in Launch Magazine, I mean albums where the interactive computer media element is a main focus and intent of the release?

This album is also a lucky find on Soulseek. I am grateful to have most of it, and I would likely purchase it if I could! I am definitely considering purchasing many of your albums (Especially 20 Vodka Jellies and Stars Forever) for the collecting aspect of them and also for the liner notes.

Contact me on Soulseek as pahoehoeaa

or email me if you plan to visit Hawaii as I would love to meet you if you are reading this: trumpetflower@gmail.com


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