We all know his silhouette, his triangular costume in black and white plastic, his enormous bow tie. We can remember his white face and blushed red cheeks, an enigmatic character who evoked a vampire as much as a mime artist or an alien - as he described himself. We also remember his lyrical and high-pitched voice, tremendously underlined by his now notorious interpretation of an extract from Purcell’s King Arthur opera, re-baptised The Cold Song. And yet, more than thirty years after his death, this German artist whose career didn’t exceeded five years, remains a mystery.
Having trained in classical music and lyrical singing as a countertenor [the male voice on the high register of the tenor], Klaus Sperber, his real name, made his stage debut in 1970's New York. His encounter with David Bowie, who suggested he join him as a chorister in 1979, brought him considerable visibility. Two years later, he released his first album, titled simply Klaus Nomi.
Certified a gold disc in France, Klaus Nomi has been re-edited on vinyl by the record label Real Gone Music and is set for release on June 14th. When it first came out in 1981, the opus revealed the extraordinary world of the musician, founded on his technique as an opera singer combined with rock influences. From this combination was born a cool music with dramatic accents undeniably linked to the new wave booming at the time. In 1983, a year after the release of his second album, Simple Man, Klaus Nomi died at the age of 39: one of the first famous victims to succumb to what would soon be known as AIDS. While he completed only two albums in his life cut short, his originality and his talent have made him an icon of his era. As Benoît Sabatier, former editor in chief of the magazine Technikart recalls: “All of rock’s history is built on transgression. Jim Morrison who showed his dick, Iggy Pop, Divine, Klaus Nomi, David Bowie…pantheonized artists who were all transgressive.” Fifteen years after the release of the documentary The Nomi Song, retracing the history of this unusual musician, the re-release of this key album plunges us back into an oeuvre that was brief but so intense.
Klaus Nomi by Klaus Nomi, re-edited on vinyl, June 14th (Real Gone Music).
Klaus Nomi - The Cold Song 1981