title: Circus Maximus
label: Él Records
personnel: Nick Currie, Neil Martin (emulator 2), Jane Davies (vocals)
tracklisting: lucky like st. sebastian, the lesson of sodom (according to lot), john the baptist jones, king solomon’s song and mine, little lord obedience, the day the circus came to town, the rape of lucretia, paper wraps rock, rules of the game of quoits
once described by Mojo as ‘England’s greatest living artist’, Nick Currie prefers to describe himself as someone who churns out ‘scruffy electronic pop for shy Japanese girls’. an obscenely talented and consistently controversial Scot, Currie’s debut was, however, as far from electronic pop as Lands’ End is from John O’Groats.
highly literary and beautifully melodic, ‘Circus Maximus’ is a breathtaking mixture of gentle acoustic guitar and varied keyboard embellishments of largely acoustic sounds, thanks to the use of the emulator sampler. Currie’s fragile, melancholic voice is the perfect vehicle to explore the gamut of tragic biblical and historical figures referenced here. particular highlights include the haunting ‘St. Sebastian’ and chanted chorus of ‘Little Lord Obedience’, alongside much lighter moments such as the folky ‘Quoits’ and ‘The Day the Circus Came to Town’, which introduces an ongoing interest in cabaret (and chanson) stylings.
considering how timeless and homeless much of Currie’s work is, Momus may well indeed be England’s greatest living artist.