ARCH CREEP: CONSIDERING 30 YEARS OF MUSICIAN MOMUS
Edinburgh-born Nicholas Currie is a prolific musician, performance artist, and cultural critic who, over the past three decades, has written 27 albums under pseudonym Momus, his pervert doppelgänger. Released in August on London’s Cherry Red Records, Pubic Intellectual: An Anthology 1986–2016 is a curated songbook that brings together time-spanning autobiographical self-deprecations like “I Was a Maoist Intellectual” and “Art Creep.”
Momus has been through many iterations: a desperate romantic on The Poison Boyfriend (1987), a modernist architectural comedian on Oskar Tennis Champion (2003), and a record producer for American Patchwork, a label he curated in the early 2000s. Currie’s lyrical interests vacillate from the architectural to the sexual to the technological, an obvious choice now, but not in 1986, or even in 1996. In his London heyday, Momus was to the medium of song what Ryan Trecartin is to video art. Take for example, “The Age of Information” (1997) which seamlessly predicted our current social economy: “Your reputation used to depend on what you concealed, now it depends on what you reveal.” And long before the rise of the micro-celebrity Nick Currie’s essay “Pop Stars: Nein Danke!” forecasted, “in the future everyone will be famous to 15 people” a futuristic twist on Warhol’s dated prediction.
However, the musician’s penchant for innovation in song and practice set him apart if not isolating him among peers and he was never considered a true YBA. Even through the 1990s, Currie never indulged in the skepticism and Luddism of his more famous British colleagues. The mindset of Momus in his various incarnations and complexities seems more akin to the hardworking continental philosophers and theorists which are referenced throughout his canon. A recent review of Pubic Intellectual by Dusted Magazine argued “both the music and lyrics have a winking quality that feels innately British.” As this vast anthology reveals, his aesthetic has remained for the past three decades: curious, sexual, architectural, and full of confusing rhetoric. More Scottish than British really.
Pubic Intellectual: An Anthology 1986–2016 is now available on Cherry Red Records.
Text by Lyndsy Welgos.
Album artwork by Hagen Verleger.