1983: Klaus Nomi - “Metronomi”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever downloaded an album, listened to it once, and then let it collect dust on your hard drive. In the last few years, I’ve succumbed to this process more often than I’d like to admit, an unfortunate byproduct of the vast availability of music in the digital age. I simply don’t give albums the time I used to, so if something doesn’t quickly grab me, I’ll set it aside to make way for the next in an endless musical queue. Sometimes I’ll legitimately enjoy a record that, for one reason or another, gets lost in the shuffle. If I read a blog post or list of “Best Obscure 70s Glam Rock Albums,” I’ll definitely seek them out. But there’s really not enough time in the day to absorb it all, to become intimately familiar with every nugget I get my hands on. In the face of practically unlimited access to new music, many of us let the consumer take over. It’s like the Pokemon mentality: gotta catch ‘em all.

Recognizing the ugly side of this practice, I’ve started collecting albums I’ve downloaded and neglected onto an iPod playlist, which I’ll listen to on shuffle at work or while driving. It’s a nice way to appreciate non-singles, to hear overlooked tracks take on new meanings outside the context of their albums. A recent example came when I was driving home the other day in the middle of a snowstorm. A song started with a slowly rising electronic pulse that quickly fattened out into a flurry of synthesizers. It was a familiar sound. My mind immediately raced.

It sounded like Animal Collective! Now, I know AC is a popular band right now, on the tip of many critical tongues, but I was almost positive that this mystery track was the intro to a song on the band’s Fall Be Kind EP, an EP I knew was in this playlist. I had listened to it a few times as background music, but never registered many of its intricacies. The mystery track had somewhat of a 70s vibe, but the bubbling synths were unmistakably in-vogue in 09. Then a high-pitched, ethereal vocal melody cropped up, and my guessing game was ruined: it couldn’t be AC. Who the fuck!?

I immediately picked up my ipod, too curious to let the song go unnamed any longer. It was… this guy:

Klaus Nomi, a flamboyantly gay German glam/opera singer who died of AIDS in 1983. The mystery song was “Metronomi” from his unfinished, posthumously released rock opera Za Bakdaz. The album as a whole is a bizarre, patchwork experiment that perverted glam rock conventions, but “Metronomi” alone stood as some sort of retro-futuristic dub track. It shares a direct link with David Bowie, Cluster, and Neu!, but it also shot forward to the bubbling electronics of the aughts. Here were the sounds that Animal Collective shove in the corners of pop songs, the kind of sounds for which they had become known and lauded. Clearly, Nomi’s sound palette has remained fresh over two decades later. So close your eyes, and for those first 40 seconds, see if you can’t tell the difference.


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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