follow us in feedly
‘Professor Pyg’: The evil Momus song that inspired Grant Morrison’s sickest Batman supervillain
05:22 pm


Grant Morrison

A few weeks back, I posted a long piece with several multimedia files urging our readers—who for some reason seem to have high IQs and amazingly good taste in music—to tune into the very specific wavelength of Momus, the multi-hyphenate Scottish songwriter, performer, novelist, citizen of the world, and trickster wit cult figure who is sadly still somewhat obscure despite putting out some 30 year’s worth of exceptional music.

If you’re interested, then I hope you’ll read “Poison boyfriend. Tender pervert. Pubic intellectual. Timelord. A brief introduction to Momus,” but I saved one song—my very most favorite Momus number I reckon—for today, Halloween, as it seems the most appropriate.

“Pygmalism” was originally written for Japanese singer Kahimi Karie and appeared on her Momus-produced EP Journey To The Centre Of Me in 2000. The song is written from the point of view of a female who is mind-controlled by an evil male character based on Professor Henry Higgins, the uptight perfectionist who trains Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle to be a “propa lady” in George Bernard Shaw’s stage play Pygmalion. The fictional control freak Higgins is the same character played by Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady on Broadway and in George Cukor’s 1964 movie musical, but the story’s origins come from ancient Greek mythology and Ovid’s narrative poem Metamorphoses where the sculptor Pygmalion falls in love with one of his creations, which then comes to life.

Whereas Rex Harrison’s Oscar-winning Higgins was merely pushy, in Momus’s retelling of the Pygmalion myth, Herr Professor Pyg is one evil motherfucker:

I only exist for Herr Professor Pyg
As a figment of his huge imagination
Mirror, mirror on the wall
Who is the villain of them all?
The mirror will answer back ‘Narcissus’
I’m your blessing but not your possession
Even what you make can drag you down

Sometimes in the night
I sing the songs Professor Pyg has taught me
Cutting up with scissors
All the stupid sexy clothes he’s bought me

Though my eyes are haunted
Though my memories have been implanted
No ancestors you can trace
An accent from no place invented

The eerie music playing behind this is the soundtrack of a deeply disturbing delirium reminiscent of a particularly evil-sounding Soft Cell track with some DNA swiped from David Bowie’s “All the Madmen.” Karie’s little girl singsong Japanese whisper is the battery acid icing on a cake that will make your skin peel off:

But as cool as her take on the song is, I actually far prefer the Momus version, which appeared on his album Folktronic in 2002. It’s got the same instrumental backing track (recorded with The Dufay Collective) but Nick Curry’s vocal is just so much more demented sounding than Kahimi’s is and it takes his composition to an even stranger, and much more perverse place. I mean, her blank vocal is pretty fucking out there to begin with, but try this multi-tracked chorus of very bad things on for size:

It’s easy to see how “Pygmalism” would have inspired comics great Grant Morrison. He’s a huge Momus fan and I can only imagine him playing it on repeat dreaming up the character of Lazlo Valentin AKA Professor Pyg. Wanting to come up with a “genuinely disturbed and disconnected” Batman supervillain was his goal and he achieved this and then some with his revolting Pyg, one of the ugliest characters in all of comics history—and one I hope to see on Gotham soon, I might add—who debuted in the auspicious issue #666 of Batman.

Professor Pyg melts doll masks—Cartoon Head-style, permanent-like—onto his brainwashed, lobotomized, dress-wearing “Dollotrons,” unlucky victims who he seeks to surgically “perfect.” He’s also the inventor of a mind control drug that he sells to the mob to use on prostitutes. The meat cleaver-baring madman leader of the Circus of Strange is not someone who you ever want to come in contact with under any circumstances. No good will come of it!

DC Direct released a fantastic Professor Pyg poseable figurine (mine’s staring back at me as I type this) and the vile serial killer fights the caped crusader in the Batman: Arkham Knight videogame.
More Professor Pyg after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Poison boyfriend. Tender pervert. Pubic intellectual. Timelord. A brief introduction to Momus
09:10 am



I first became aware of Momus back in 1994. I was standing in front of the goodie closet at the Tokyo offices of Nippon Columbia, the big Japanese record company. I was greedily loading myself up with as much free product (mostly jazz CDs) as I was going to be able to carry in my luggage back home to Los Angeles when I noticed the extravagantly packaged CD of his Timelord album with its distinctive Pierre et Gilles cover portrait and slipcase.

“What’s this?” I quizzed one of the record execs who spoke better English than the others.

“Ah…it’s…ah… ah… music for gay people!” he said laughing, after thinking about it for a moment.

I took this to mean “witty” “camp” or simply “in the same ballpark as Marc Almond” and so I asked him “Can I have this, too, then?”

The following day I saw who I immediately realized was this very same Momus character—he stood out in the context of Japan, as any non-Japanese tends to in Tokyo—and although he seemed rather effete and fashionable, he was with a super hot Japanese girl and he didn’t seem to be gay at all. (In retrospect, I think the record exec had heard “The Homosexual” a 1988 song by Momus—but not about him—and just assumed something that a language barrier didn’t help with. Having said that, he wasn’t really that far off either and I did know vaguely what he meant, which is the important thing anyway.)

Timelord is a strange, but intriguing album, a love letter sent by Momus (real name Nick Currie) across time and space to just one person—a young woman of Bangladeshi descent he’d fallen in love with whose parents had her shipped off to an arranged marriage when they found out about him. Currie described it as “the album that shot itself in the foot” but there’s a lovely quality to it.

Like The Visitor in The Man Who Fell To Earth who hopes his wife on her distant planet will hear his music on the radio, Momus hopes this music will cut through the static interference of fundamentalist Islam to reach Shazna.

The song that really stood out to me first on Timelord was “Enlightenment,” a number that waxed poetic about a certain sexually promiscuous person—this would be Momus, about to settle down in a serious relationship—sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for the results of his AIDS test.

I realize that this doesn’t sound romantic, but it really is when you think about what he’s singing:

But tell me you’ll be there
When I’m knocked out flat
With a drip feed in my arm
And tell me you’ll be there
When the swansong starts to fade
And when a life support machine
Supports me in a coma you’ll be there
And when I’m just a cabbage save me from the spade

So tell me you’ll be there
If I ever find
I’ve only got one kidney left
And tell me you’ll be there
When I’ve only got one eye
And say that you’ll still be my baby
When a wheelchair is my chair
You’ll be there upon the day I die

And tell me you’ll be there
When my head’s on backwards
And my skin is turning green
You’ll be there
When my brain has gone to sand
And tell me you’ll still be my baby
When my guts are on the floor
And when I’m catatonic
I’ll still be your man

A terribly post-modern take on the Beatles “When I’m 64,” isn’t it?

The lyrics were unlike anything else I think I’d ever heard before in a pop song. Wordplay and sentiment so intelligent, so unexpected, so idiosyncratic. So wonderfully and unabashedly smart and literate and funny. And morbid!

Momus is an absolute chameleon as a songwriter and sheds musical styles from album to album—vaudeville, New Wave, synthpop, Brechtian cabaret, Baroque, acid house, folk—as I would soon find out fanning through his catalog, which at this point includes over 30 (mostly fantastic) full length albums. To be sure, Currie has a “thing” that he does—it’s very consistently him, but also ever evolving, too.

Truly there is no one even remotely like Momus on the music scene today. The man is brilliant, a global treasure and the greatest songwriter that Scotland has ever produced, but his profile has remained stubbornly obscure, much to the consternation of his fervent, but admittedly small, fanbase. Momus is bigger in Japan, but he’s probably not all that big there, either. As the man himself once said “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people.” It’s ridiculous that he’s not much better known, and widely revered, but I still envy anyone just discovering his music anyway.

Momus rendered in watercolors for the cover of El Pais newspaper’s magazine by Jose Manuel Hortelano-Pi

A grand new three CD Momus retrospective, selected by the artist himself and spanning some 30 creatively fertile years, Public Intellectual, An Anthology 1986-2016 (out now on Cherry Red and streaming on Spotify) is the perfect place to start if you find yourself curious about this most singularly singular of musical entertainers. But because I want to make it easy on you, I’ve selected a few of my own very favorite Momus tracks and performances for your listening enjoyment and embedded them here, courtesy of Cherry Red.

Personally I prefer what would now be termed, I suppose, “mid-period” Momus, but this is not to say that he’s ever been any less than at the height of his powers throughout his prolific career. His most recent material is just as good and just as inspired as the music he produced when he was in his 20s. His first albums are as good as his later albums, even if I personally tend to grab the 90s material when I want to listen to a little Momus. It’s all different, but all obviously Momus and the quality is always remarkably high.


Momus on the song (from the liner notes of Public Intellectual):

You’re settling into a longterm relationship in the early 90s: you take an AIDS test. But do you really want to know the answer, considering the fact that at this point (as Derek Jarman was in the process of proving) to be HIV-positive was to be sentenced to death? Expand that question a little and you get to Adorno and Horkheimer’s doubts about Enlightenment in general. The song’s coda is spookily visionary, asking: will you still love me when I’ve only got one eye?

Dig the Pizzicato Five sample. It drove me nuts trying to figure out what it was.

Much more Momus after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
It’s so nice to be a beautiful girl: Meet J-Pop’s avant garde sweetheart Kahimi Karie
12:43 pm


Soft Machine
Kahimi Karie

There was a while there in the mid to late 90s when it looked like Japanese pop chanteuse Kahimi Karie would break out of Tokyo’s hip and fashionable “Shibuya-kei” scene (which included Pizzicato Five, Plastic Fantastic Machine, Dee-lite’s Tōwa Tei and others) to find international stardom. She certainly had the potential, the looks and the style. I think when European and American music fans first discovered her, it was assumed that there might be other, similar J-Pop singers like her still to find, but this sadly wasn’t the case. Kahimi Karie (real name Hiki, Mari) was unique within that category, if she even deserved to be lumped in with J-Pop at all.

Influenced by the French yé-yé singers of the 1960s and finding her own Serge Gainsbourg(s) in the persons of then boyfriend Keigo Oyamada (aka the brilliant Cornelius) and quirky Scottish performer Momus, Karie’s whispery, half-spoken Claudine Longet-esque vocals were the perfect gloss on a pop confection that looked backwards and forwards equally.

Her best-known single “Good Morning World” was commissioned for use in a Japanese cosmetics company’s TV commercial. The song’s playful, nearly nonsensical dada lyrics named-checked a Fall song (“How I Wrote ‘Elastic Man’”) and it utilized a particularly effective sample lifted from the Soft Machine’s “Why Am I So Short?Talk about two insanely cool dog whistles to smuggle into a corporate advertising jingle. Bravo!

There was much to like in the Kahimi Karie package, but for whatever reason, other than the small hipster J-Pop audience, few outside of Japan took notice.

Karie’s sound has radically changed over the years as she’s collaborated with the likes of Arto Lindsay, Add N to (X) and Yasuharu Konishi. Now 48 and living in New York after a long period of residing in Paris, it seems like she has turned her back on hoping for another mainstream pop hit. Recent projects have been produced in collaboration with Japanese noise rocker Yoshihide Otomo and experimental musician Jim O’Rourke. She actually hasn’t been that active in music for many years and her website, infrequently updated, seems to indicate that she might be involved with fashion and bag design these days.

“Good Morning World” written and produced by Momus:

More from Kahimi Karie after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘UnAmerica’: God doesn’t love America. Quite the reverse.
11:47 am



“Patriot” by Dimitri Drjuchin, 2014

Scottish songwriter/performer/blogger Momus, the cynical, sex-obsessed eyepatch-wearing, world-traveling postmodernist who gave the world such unforgettable ditties as “Coming in a Girl’s Mouth,” “Enlightenment” and “Welcome to My Show Trial” (which Grant Morrison told me is his favorite song of all time) is now an author.

In fact, the man once called “the most famous unknown in pop” has actually got three novels under his belt and the latest, UnAmerica makes four. Already a big fan of his music, I enjoyed it immensely. It makes sense that a musical purveyor of witty wordplay like Momus would get into the novel business.

From the press release:

The nation is in the iron claw of capitalism, Christianity’s basic principles are flouted daily, the South has won the Civil War, slavery is widespread, exploitation rampant, and God—now working as a janitor at Tastee Freez with late-onset Alzheimer’s—is rapidly losing the plot. In an effort to obliterate his botched creation from memory, the fallen divinity recruits retail worker Brad Power to enlist a crew of twelve for a seafaring adventure. The mission? To uninvent America.   

It’s never too late, apparently, for an act of creative destruction.

UnAmerica is published by Penny Ante Editions as part of their “Success and Failure Series”.

Chapter One

It’s a sunny afternoon during the month of Hekatombaion. Wild pear trees—glabrous, their leaves cordate, nearly orbicular, their nuts oval—are coming into flower. I’m headed eastbound on Tupperway Drive. I make an illegal U-turn at the Boone Hill United Methodist Church and am soon pulling my Dodge Custer into the Tastee Freez car park.

Inside the restaurant I’m ushered to a booth where I order a Hot Fudge Sundae with a large side of fries.

This is not the sort of food I normally eat, or even like very much, to be honest.  I prefer to picnic alone in the middle of a field somewhere, with a pot of raspberry jam, two slices of crisp bread, a hard-boiled egg, and some unsugared tea in a Thermos flask.

The wind might rustle in the willows, rabbits might graze in the boskiness of a hedgerow, and John Constable would probably be standing at an easel nearby, whistling as he smears flecks of Cremnitz white from a soft metal tube into a lowering and turbulent paint sky.

After lunch I will push my bicycle over the recently-ploughed sod, casting a lustful yet repressed eye at a handsome farm labourer stripped to the waist, and cycle to the nearest village, where I will seek out junk shops selling bric-a-brac, or perhaps stumble on a serendipitous church fete.


The frail, fussy voice takes me by surprise; an old man dressed like a janitor emerges from a utilities closet.

“Brad, thank you for coming. I know that many people would assume this was a hoax. You have shown yourself to be a true believer.”

“Uh, great to meet you!”

God’s handshake isn’t particularly firm. His foreign accent, darting brown eyes, swarthy complexion and cheap nylon janitor’s uniform make him look like an illegal kitchen worker from the Middle East.

“Now Brad”, says God, “you’re going to have to make allowances for me. I have late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.”

“I’m very sorry to hear that!”

“Yes, it’s my cross to bear, so to speak. I’ve totally forgotten how to create things. Do you know what my main project is right now, Brad?”

“I wouldn’t presume to guess or know, sir!”

“I want to uninvent America, a nation I have come to despise.”

This is surprising.

“Why do you despise America?”

God knits his brows.

“Because Americans have lost touch with everything important. They’ve become fat, greedy, selfish pigs.”

God explains how little he was impressed by the mass extermination of indigenous peoples, the triumph of the slave-driving South over the Yankees during the Civil War, and the Confederate States of America’s use of nuclear weapons against civilian populations in Britain during the Second World War.

“That sounds fair enough”, I observe. “I’m a secret British sympathiser myself.”

My sundae and fries arrives. God is talking about the Hutterites; how they were the only Americans to have followed his injunction in the Acts of the Apostles to pool their possessions, sell all their goods and distribute them according to need.

“And you know what they got for this, Brad? They were called communists, jailed, beaten up, killed. The states started passing laws forbidding them to buy more land. They had to move to Canada.”

“Brad, Americans have become the opposite of everything I intended humans, and especially Christians, to become. If I still could, I’d smash this nation to potsherds, or flood the entire continental basin from sea to shining sea.”

God becomes suddenly businesslike.

“I am seeking a faithful servant to recreate in reverse the voyage of Saint Brendan, dearly beloved to me. Do you know much about him?”

Nibbling on a french fry, I confess that I don’t know anything about Saint Brendan.

God explains that the monk set off from Ireland in the early 6th century, inspired by a holy man called Mernoke, who had discovered a magical land beyond the western horizon where every herb was full of blossom and every tree full of fruit. This, says God, was Eden, or Tir na nÓg, the earthly paradise where death and disease were unknown. Brendan set off in a coracle with twelve hand-picked associates, hoping to discover this land. After seven years of paddling from island to island, he succeeded.

God shakes some hundreds-and-thousands onto the surface of my fudge sundae. Calm, epic music punctuated by the cries of sea birds fills the air.  We crane over the glass and seem to be zooming in on a tiny boat crossing an ocean of whipped cream.

The Irish discovered America, says God. But the earthly paradise has become an unparadise. The whole situation has to be reversed. America has to be undiscovered. People need to turn their backs on all it stands for. People need to learn about—and learn from—the rest of the world.

Now it’s the rest of the world that needs to become the shining example, the Tir na nÓg, the Shangri-La, the Golden Fleece.

“You, Brad, and your twelve hand-picked companions must learn—and teach the world—how to become as unAmerican as possible. That is my final wish, and my last command. Do you accept the challenge?”

What can I say?

UnAmerica is published by Penny Ante Editions as part of their “Success and Failure Series.”

If you don’t like reading, Momus explains what UnAmerica is all about and then reads the first chapter in a quite passable American accent in the video below.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Momus: Performative Lecture from 2012

Artist and DM pal, the fabulous Norn Cutson forwarded this fascinating performative lecture given by pop oddity, musician (The Poison Boyfriend, Tender Pervert), author The Book of Jokes and The Book of Scotlands, philosopher, post modernist and artist Momus.

This is a fascinating and entertaining lecture with a Q + A session, which Momus presnted at Nottingham Trent University, October 18th, 2012. Now based in Osaka, Japan, Momus is available for public speaking engagements - email: - and will be next available in Europe during March 2013.

For more information check his website.

With thanks to Norn Cutson!

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Momus: ‘Strawberry Hill’ and the ‘Hypnoprism’ album
11:12 am



This little jazz-psyche jam is perfect for a cold, dark and rainy Sunday afternoon. At least, that’s what it’s like here in Manchester, but I bet it goes well with the sunshine too. Or any weather state actually.

If you don’t know Momus, he’s a pretty legendary Scottish indie music figure who has been around since the mid-Eighties. He’s been associated with record labels like Postcard, Cherry Red and Creation. He keeps a great blog, with some very interesting articles and all his latest news, at imomus.

This track is from his last album Hypnoprism (2010, Anagram Records) and features keys from Ben Butler (him again!). Interestingly, Momus made a video for each of the tunes from the LP, and uploaded them one by one, as they were finished, to his YouTube account.

The rest of the album, in video form, is after the jump:

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Momus: Everything You Know Isn’t a Panda
02:30 pm




Momus offers a style and lifestyle guide to the next decade. Just about everything on here seems spot on.

A new decade is a time in which to declare “everything you know is wrong”. A fresh decade is a time to jettison secure old knowledge and grope around for new. Since a new decade is just around the corner, let’s start groping now.

Forget the places you’ve been going on holiday, and go on holiday instead to Beirut.

Do not expect to learn about the world through journalists.

Any Obama backlash will simply help usher in someone worse. Skip it.

Your mother holds a key piece of information, essential to your happiness. All you have to do is ask her the right question.

(Momus: Everything You Know Isn’t a Panda)

Posted by Jason Louv | Leave a comment