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Momus

Folktronic (Le Grand Magistery)

Scotsman Nick Currie's decision to record under the name Momus, defined in one friendly Webster's as "the Greek god of blame and mockery," was an appropriate one. His career has been filled with oddball moments, such as those that followed "Michelin Man," a song from 1991's Hippopotamomus that contained a lustful reference to the jolly tire icon. Michelin's British division sued, and as part of a settlement, all unsold copies of the platter were trashed. And that's not to mention 1998's Little Red Songbook, during which Currie wondered if transsexual composer Wendy Carlos might get a jolt out of time traveling to the past and making whoopee with Walter Carlos -- aka Wendy when she was a man. Carlos, following in the hallowed Michelin tradition, responded by filing a lawsuit against Currie, who paid off the debts he incurred as a result by releasing a disc, 1999's Stars Forever, filled with songs commissioned by supporters at $1,000 a crack. Thank you, capitalism!

Thus far, no reports of legal action have surfaced in regard to Folktronic, and it's doubtful any will: Although Currie follows the name "Oprah Winfrey" with the words "massive attack" in the number dubbed "Mountain Music," I'm guessing the juxtaposition isn't actionable. But that doesn't mean the Man From Momus has lost his taste for the bizarre: His latest is a merger of classic folk music and techno, two genres that haven't previously spent much time in bed together. Yet the two forms shtup on the very first track, "Appalachia" ("Appalachian mountain girl, keep me company/Won't you come and comfort me -- electronically?"), and get even cozier -- and kinkier -- in the tunes that follow. Consider "Finnegan the Folk Hero" (of HTML, as it turns out), an Irish lament overlaid with synthesized space sounds; "Protestant Art," a casual ditty about "piss Christs," "donkey-shirt virgins" and lots more whose beat is provided by Casio; and "The Penis Song," a bit of electro music about the many uses for appendages not unlike the one Wendy Carlos had removed. "Don't bury it in boxer shorts, but wear it like a tie," Currie advises.

There's a danger, of course, in laying twenty examples of unalloyed daffiness end to end and calling the result an album: Whimsy can wear thin after a while. But Currie is so relentless, so energetic, so determined to make every line a side-splitter (or, at the very least, a head-scratcher) that most listeners will eventually surrender their better judgement and belly up to the bar...and why not? There's plenty of blame and mockery to go around.

 
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