Die Nomi Maschine

I am sure that everybody will clearly remember the very first time seeing (or hearing) Klaus Nomi.

I first saw him on TV on a holiday in Italy in 1981. I was equally fascinated and frightened by this creature that appeared to be a runaway robot, which must have escaped from Kraftwerks Kling Klang Studio with a Nina Hagen voice-chip.

He sang "Cold Song" and "Total Eclipse" and after a few moments into the songs, the laughter of the other tourists in the TV-room died down and they watched in a mixture of amazement and - I am sure - repulsion.
After the performance Nomi was interviewed by the italian host. Nomi, unable to sit down because of his pointy costume, seemed to be very down to earth, funny but totally unaware of his extraordinary appearance.
From the first moment it was clear that he was not some new-wave singer. He was unique!

I bought all of his records, despite not really liking the often contemporary rock-music. I sometimes felt that he wasn´t totally freeing himself from the Bowie school of rock-theatre. But a Nomi record was always some exotic treasure full of wickedly strange gems.

And then of course he became famous for something completely different. The opera-alien was not made for life on earth. He was one of the first famous faces to die from the terrible disease that still had no real name when it struck him down in 1983.

This here is one of his last live appearances. In December 1982 he performed the aria "The cold song" by English composer Purcell who wrote it for the English baroque opera "King Arthur" in the 17th century. Klaus Nomi had recorded it with a strikingly synthetic soundtrack and as a song it sounded extremely modern.

Here, he performs it with a full orchestra in a big concert in Munich. It is in many ways a devastating performance! Seeing this fragile Nomi-machine climbing the stage and singing this ultra-gothic aria in his otherworldly counter-tenor will is nothing but amazing:

What power art thou,
who from below,
Hast made me rise,
Unwillingly and slow.
from beds of everlasting snow!
See'st thou not, how stiff, and wondrous old,
far unfit to bear the bitter cold.
I can scarcely move or draw my breath.
Let me, let me, freeze again
Let me, let me, freeze again to death!

Purcell, the composer died in 1695 from T.B.aged 36.
Klaus Nomi died of AIDS related illness in August 1983. It was only eight months after this performance. He was 39 years old.

According to popmatters.com a new album of unreleased home recordings will be released in February through Heliocentric Records.

There is also a great movie documentation about Nomi´s life and career The Nomi Song which is well worth watching.

1 comment:

Madeline said...

You can read my story about Klaus Nomi here...


All the best,