Laila France, "Orgonon"

One of these days, I think I'll need to write a standalone post on Momus, a voice that's long been near the epicenter of my musical worldview, but never in a loud, obvious way. His influences on my preferences stealthily snuck in through back doors and I've often found myself navigating his career accidentally, coincidentally; more often than not, I realize something has Momus fingerprints smudged across it after—not before—I have devoured it.

But that post is not the post I'm writing today, so, for now, all's I'll share with those of you out there who might consider themselves Momus noobs is that he's a musician and producer from Paisley, Scotland, who kicked off his career as a member of the Happy Family, a sparky outfit that sort of spoofed Orange Juice, before deciding it's cleaner to go solo and began cooking up records on his own. Those early efforts run the gamut of delicate indie rock to gothy synth-pop, quirky art rock to canny house pop, though all of it is united by his trademark bohemian wonkiness, bookishness, worldliness.

In the early 90s, he unwittingly got lassoed into the burgeoning Shibuya-kei scene, first by producing Poison Girl Friend's stellar Shyness album, then by linking with Kahimi Karie (カヒミ・カリィ), with whom he collaborated often and frequently for the remainder of the decade.

In the midst of all that, Momus moved to Paris, in '94, and found, through a classified ad he placed in a magazine, a half-Thai, half-French art student named Samantha Crü, and the two of them began recording together, with Crü assuming the alias Laila France. The result of those sessions is Orgonon, a work that very much mirrors what Momus was up to in the Land of the Rising Sun at the time, but transposed to the home of much of his reference material. It's a colorful eleven-tracker that bounces around, from drum and bass to chanson, Casiotone twee to baroque pop, with Crü's flinty yet fine vocals traipsing around atop Momus' playful yet dry and chintzy yet artful productions. It came out on Bungalow, an imprint started by Le Hammond Inferno and known for importing a lot of Japanese stuff to the West at a time when those roads were dirt paths compared to the smooth highways we have presently. It was also licensed to Readymade, Konishi Yasuharu (小西 康陽) of Pizzicato Five's hub for all things aural, which then repackaged and expanded it as Trance Cocktail Airlines.