“In The Sanatorium”
Taken from the album Tender Pervert.
A while ago I wrote a flippant post about Momus, in which I just ended up sounding dismissive of an artist who I find genuinely compelling, even in spite of his obvious (Orientalist, misogynist) flaws.
In one of the articles on his much-missed blog Click Opera (much more substantive than Mrs Tsk, his new Tumblr), writes an article in defense of a Japanese rape simulator game, he quotes a song of his own (the identity of which I don’t know): “in life remain considerate, in art the devil incarnate… in games there should be no forbidden things”. This is an interesting idea: that art should be a “safe space” (ironically enough) for us to explore what we find simultaneously troubling and alluring.
This attitude is central to the Momus project, and exhibited especially well on “In the Sanatorium” — a high point on Tender Pervert, which is itself more consistent than the other Momus records I’ve heard. Inspired by Gide’s The Immoralist, its lyrics are sung from the perspective of the lover of an ill partner; instead of aiding her recuperation in the titular sanatorium; he hinders her treatment and keeps guests away to indulge his selfish love.
Half in love with easeful death I cloud the mirror with your breath Half in love with this disease That keeps you close to me
The song succeeds not only as an aesthetic exercise, but musically as well. Momus’s key weakness is that he can be quite unmelodic, the songs serving only as half-hearted vessels for their lyrics; this one, on the other hand, is bright and memorable. The strange and placid conclusion is great, too — there’s ghostly operatic sample from Brecht, lingering eerily and Philip Jeck-like beneath the acoustic guitar.