Compulsion | PO Box 19577 | Kilbarchan |Johnstone | PA10 2WX | Scotland | UK



Momus and John Henriksson - Thunderclown

I fell out of love with Momus after getting hold of Summerisle, a collaboration with Anne Laplantine. The disjointed folk music sat uneasily with Momus' vocal. Fortunately I picked up a copy of the limited vinyl 10-inch The Thunderclown, of which all tracks appear on this full-length album. Thunderclown features a collaboration with John Henriksson, proprietor of the label Tona Serenad. And thankfully Thunderclown sees the Paisley born boy (my home town too) return with more agreeable results.

The collaboration occurred after Henriksson heard the Momus track 'Charm Song' from the 2010 Momus album Hypnoprism. Thunderclown is based around Henriksson's samples from obscure 7-inch vinyl, to which Swedish and French musician friends added sax, organ, celesta, lapsteel guitar, marimba and vibraphonette. The results were sent to Momus who altered pitch, key and structure and crooned new songs over them.

The opener 'Love Wakes The Devil' sounds as if it's been lifted from Leonard Cohen's Phil Spector produced Death of a Ladies Man, its organ driven sound acting as a pumping pulse to Momus' ruminations on the trials and tribulations of love. It's truly fantastic stuff. The title track, 'The Thunderclown', awash with saxophone, electronic beats, crackly vinyl sounds and swirling organ chime, is just as good. Momus' voice here is intimate and the atmosphere, like much of Thunderclown , is nostalgic. The Thunderclown persona first introduced here continually reappears throughout the album.

The crackly textures continue through 'Willow Pattern' combining the hiss of vintage records alongside the tender, whispered voice of Momus' as he tells of a doomed, illicit love, surrounded by the strains of a muted trumpet score. Momus is at his finest lyrically on the 'Precocious Young Miss Calloway'. Littered with sleazo inputs, you know you're in prime Momus territory, as he lists his potential sexual partners and an unspecified sexual injury. The accompanying music is jaunty, buoyed by a skipping rhythm and circus organ. Things start to take a turn on 'The Criminal', as Momus traverses the streets of Paris following the end of a love affair, with an arrangement stripped to strings, lapsteel guitar alongside an appealing "doo wop" accompaniment. The crackly vinyl segues into 'How I Met Your Mother', with a sort-of parental lyrical connection to Pulp's 'Sorted For E's and Wizz' - which, if you know anything about Momus, is just plain wrong.

Henriksson's arrangements go all comic on the whimsical 'Baloney Polonious' merging comic spring sounds with whistling while namechecking Marshall McLuhan and William Shakespeare. We're back in typical Momus territory on 'The Teacher', a sordid tale of sexual fascination, frustration and contemporary subterfuge. There's a twist, and along with the arrangements confined to scratchy tones and piano, don't come close to the devious nature of previous Momus tracks. From then on in, it all becomes quite patchy, 'Futara Bold' is riddled and spoiled with annoying electronic squiggles, 'We Don't Have To Make Children' with its half-sung distant tones, over lounge piano and late night trumpet, tells of middle age-sex but breaks no new ground for Momus. The final track 'Gibbous Moon' has Momus singing about ageing, death and Christianity over piano and crackling vinyl with lovely Disneyesque effects.

This is a good Momus album, better than what I've heard recently but not as good as his previous albums. The fact that I was already aware of most of the better songs ('The Thunderclown', 'Precocious Young Miss Calloway', 'Gibbous Moon', as well as 'The Criminal') from their appearance on the preceding 10-inch probably blighted my appreciation of this - along with the duff tracklist ordering which didn't help. That said, 'Love Wakes The Devil' is already one of my favourite Momus songs, and Henriksson's settings using vintage vinyl are both haunting and nostalgic. Taken as a whole the atmosphere generated creates a good Momus album, singling tracks out weakens it somewhat. So it's maybe one for hardened Momus fans with a word of caution for casual Momus listeners. Worth listening too, though, if you get the chance. Interested listeners should seek out the vinyl edition which comes with a 7-inch single of Henriksson's sound sketches for the album. For more information go to www.tonaserenad.com