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Momus on that Bowie cover version

Total Blam Blam's picture
on January 11, 2013

"I was running at the speed of life"

While we're on the subject of Bowie cover versions (see previous Lulu item), you must have seen or heard Momus's rather clever rendition of 'Where Are We Now?'

Apparently the Momus of Greek mythology was the god of satire and mockery among other things. In that case, it looks like the god's smiled upon Nicholas Currie (Momus's birth name), when he created this sincere and affectionate tribute.

It's certainly got to be the quickest that anybody has ever turned around a Bowie cover version, seeing as it was released the same day as Bowie's original. Here's a brief excerpt from Momus's explanation regarding both the track and the seemingly unconnected accompanying video.

How did you come up with idea to cover the song immediately?

In November I had some kind of premonition that Bowie might return in 2013. I did a spoof announcement on my Tumblr page about an album called Vivid Old Man. It envisaged something avant garde: “Over microtonal organ, harp and tambour backings drawing inspiration from early Penderecki, mid-period Messiaen and late Webern, Bowie sings avant-sea-shanties”. So when I heard the fairly mainstream sound of the new single, I already had this parallel world in my mind where he was doing something a bit more radical. I decided within an hour to extend that parallel world a bit with a cover version.

What makes a good cover-version in your opinion?

There has to be a rather peculiar mix of respect and aggression. You have to bring out the essence of your feelings about the artist, and the song. In this cover I really wanted to put in a lot of references to the Bowie that marked me most deeply, the 1970s Bowie. Hence the “do-do-do”s and thick bass synths from Fashion, the drum machine from Nightclubbing, the octaved backing vocals from The Bewlay Brothers. I suppose I wanted to out-Bowie Bowie.

Why did you pick Roddy McDowall’s 1968 home film of a make-up session for Planet of the Apes for the video-clip?

I’d watched it recently, and been struck by the creepiness of it. It seemed perfect for the video, for several reasons. I was aping the master, so the monkey was me. But also, so many Bowie documentaries show him being made up. It’s the perfect motif for his many self-transformations. There’s an allusion to the apes in the opening scene of Kubrick’s 2001, which triggered Bowie to write Space Oddity. And somehow the grotesqueness of the Cornelius character sums up how Bowie looked to me when I was 12. He was fascinating and terrifying in equal measure. Thin-lipped, not quite human. More than human!

As you can see, Momus also spoofed the cover of The Next Day to accompany 'Where are We Now'?, an idea that has caught on via BuzzFeed's Make Your Own David Bowie Album Cover.

Follow the complete timeline of the Momus cover, from conception to completion, on the official Momus page.

Naturally, David Bowie holds the record for fastest ever cover version, performing 'Waiting For The Man' live with The Riot Squad even before the first Velvet Underground album was released.

blog image: 
    11 January 2013
    Momus on that Bowie cover version

    "I was running at the speed of life"

    While we're on the subject of Bowie cover versions (see previous Lulu item), you must have seen or heard Momus's rather clever rendition of 'Where Are We Now?'

    Apparently the Momus of Greek mythology was the god of satire and mockery among other things. In that case, it looks like the god's smiled upon Nicholas Currie (Momus's birth name), when he created this sincere and affectionate tribute.

    It's certainly got to be the quickest that anybody has ever turned around a Bowie cover version, seeing as it was released the same day as Bowie's original. Here's a brief excerpt from Momus's explanation regarding both the track and the seemingly unconnected accompanying video.

    How did you come up with idea to cover the song immediately?

    In November I had some kind of premonition that Bowie might return in 2013. I did a spoof announcement on my Tumblr page about an album called Vivid Old Man. It envisaged something avant garde: “Over microtonal organ, harp and tambour backings drawing inspiration from early Penderecki, mid-period Messiaen and late Webern, Bowie sings avant-sea-shanties”. So when I heard the fairly mainstream sound of the new single, I already had this parallel world in my mind where he was doing something a bit more radical. I decided within an hour to extend that parallel world a bit with a cover version.

    What makes a good cover-version in your opinion?

    There has to be a rather peculiar mix of respect and aggression. You have to bring out the essence of your feelings about the artist, and the song. In this cover I really wanted to put in a lot of references to the Bowie that marked me most deeply, the 1970s Bowie. Hence the “do-do-do”s and thick bass synths from Fashion, the drum machine from Nightclubbing, the octaved backing vocals from The Bewlay Brothers. I suppose I wanted to out-Bowie Bowie.

    Why did you pick Roddy McDowall’s 1968 home film of a make-up session for Planet of the Apes for the video-clip?

    I’d watched it recently, and been struck by the creepiness of it. It seemed perfect for the video, for several reasons. I was aping the master, so the monkey was me. But also, so many Bowie documentaries show him being made up. It’s the perfect motif for his many self-transformations. There’s an allusion to the apes in the opening scene of Kubrick’s 2001, which triggered Bowie to write Space Oddity. And somehow the grotesqueness of the Cornelius character sums up how Bowie looked to me when I was 12. He was fascinating and terrifying in equal measure. Thin-lipped, not quite human. More than human!

    As you can see, Momus also spoofed the cover of The Next Day to accompany 'Where are We Now'?, an idea that has caught on via BuzzFeed's Make Your Own David Bowie Album Cover.

    Follow the complete timeline of the Momus cover, from conception to completion, on the official Momus page.

    Naturally, David Bowie holds the record for fastest ever cover version, performing 'Waiting For The Man' live with The Riot Squad even before the first Velvet Underground album was released.