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click opera
February 2010
Tue, Jan. 20th, 2009 02:53 pm
The Music Genome Project on Coming in a Girl's Mouth


Tue, Jan. 20th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
Baroque Obama

(Sorry for the bad pun--I was just hoping for something connected both to today's major international event and this blog's somewhat smaller topic of discussion.)

Anyway, at last something I can comment on as a mere fan who is too stupid or at least too out of it to get involved in debates about art theory and practice. To put it simply, I wouldn't own every single thing that Momus has released if I didn't find almost every track musically adventurous, if not always stretching the idea of the "pop song" to its very limits. (I listen to a lot of music, most of it stuff that is hardly "popular," at least currently, or palpable on a mass level.) I say "stretching," and yet one can also sing along to most Momus songs--not something one can casually do with the average Xiu Xiu track, for instance.

As far as "avant-garde" composing goes, I'd consider Momus to be downright conservative, if not always formally so; still, that's only in relation to other artists who wouldn't even dip their smallest toe into more "commercial" waters like this thing vaguely labeled "pop" or "rock." I mean, Momus is neither Merzbau nor Messiaen--and doesn't intend to compete in quite so rarified arenas, I presume.

Not being a musician myself, I really couldn't judge too well if Momus is technically a "good" musician--he seems awfully technically proficient and "musical" to me, but that could half be digital smoke and mirrors (as if I care, as long as it sounds good). Of course, the words mean a great deal to me, too, and it's the tension between the two--the curious musical structures and the (mostly) highly "intellectualized" or conceptualized lyrics that make Momus music so exciting to me --and to many others, as well, I imagine.

That said, draw in your spikes, Momus: you have no need to be self-defensive. You've been fortunate enough to be blessed with an enormous talent which has expressed itself in multitudinous ways, and you've been able to make something of a living at it, which is more than almost any artist could ever dare to dream. Your success may be miniscule compared to the pop flavor of the month, but it has brought a lot of enjoyment to a perhaps more discriminating audience. And if you think your nonmusical forays are perhaps a bit slighted, even by your readers here, maybe it's just because we can all put a Momus song on our audio machines but we can't of course all be there to see you in a gallery or museum. (Videos of said events can't quite substitute.) Not that anything I've said in this paragraph is new to Momus, or would mitigate any real or imagined pain, but perhaps it needs to be said again. And again.

Along me to go on and stretch this column a bit further. It's interesting to me that people who would read any amount of "offensive" dialogue or description in, say, a novel, will find lyrics to a song like "CIAGM" too much to take. (I know; I've forced people to listen.) Why are "pop" or even "art" songs somehow sacred--and if they discuss sex, why must they never be too frank? "CIAGM" is not among my favorite Momus songs--through-composed operas are not my favorites either, but I do recognize it as a compelling type of narrative, possibly or possibly not very close to the composer's own beliefs or experiences. Is Humbert Humbert Nabokov, part of Nabokov, or not him at all? What does it matter? As if this is an original argument! As if that last line of mine really matters!

I might add here that despite being fiercely devoted to much of what is called "avant-garde" or "experimental," I usually experience art on a far more emotional than intellectual level. Not enough has been said here or anywhere else about the real power of Momus's music, however "intellectualized" to have a personal, sympathetic impact on its hearers (maybe that's what the one anonymous poster meant by saying Momus might not be a great musician but still his songs meant more than anyone else's.)

OK, I'll put down my pom-poms now.

Tue, Jan. 20th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Baroque Obama

Thank you, dear friend!

It really sounds as if I put on my dungarees, picked up bait and tackle and went fishing for praise today, doesn't it? Then again, I did stuff some newspaper into my pants, expecting a bit of a kicking too.

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