A riveting mix of taking-head interviews, archival footage, and musical performance pieces, Andrew Horn’s anecdote-heavy documentary chronicles Ziggy-Stardust-cum-Dieter avant-gardist Klaus Nomi’s impact on the East Village counterculture and his betrayal of the “Nomi world” after signing with RCA France. Horn compellingly chronicles the New Wave wunderkind’s ability to tap into a missing link in the New York music scene with an intergalactic shtick and frightening falsetto unlike anything anyone had ever heard before and the man’s 15 minutes (okay, well, it was longer than that) after landing a gig as a backup singer for David Bowie and getting to jam on Saturday Night Live. Nomi died of AIDS in 1983 with very little friends, and while he remains somewhat of a cipher here, his identity resonates in his music. This is something Horn understands, allowing songs like “Lightnin’ Strikes” and “Simple Man” to repeatedly evoke the otherworldly Nomi’s crippling loneliness and search for love. Appropriately bookended by scenes from Jack Arnold’s awesome Cold War-era alien flick It Came From Outer Space, The Nomi Song truly suggests that Klaus Sperber (Nomi’s birth name) came to us from a different time and place.
Director Andrew Horn tells us on his commentary track that he relished the opportunity to use something besides mono sound when putting The Nomi Song together, namely during the closing Nomi performance that transitions into the final It Came From Outer Space clip; it's during this one sequence that the otherwise serviceable audio track shows some might. Image quality is equally good, but the old archival footage actually fares better than some of the newer material, if only because it's not as garish-looking. But if there's a real downside here it's the fact that the video format makes it easier to spot which scenes Horn tinkered with in order to give them a retro look. You can add noise to images using Photoshop that look more authentic than some of these shots.
I'm not exactly sure if Horn knows what macrobiotic is, and I don't know what he was talking about when de discusses cue sheets and music rights at one point, but his commentary track is an engaging one. More interesting than the usual "how we did it" business is Horn's personable arsenal of anecdotes, namely his stories about living in the East Village and meeting Nomi for the first time. In addition to two deleted scenes, one of which delves deeper into the AIDS phobia that disconnected Nomi from his friends, an expansive collection of additional interviews is also available here, as is a recipe for lime tart, three full-length Nomi performances ("Adrian And The Mutant Dance," "The Cold Song," and "After the Fall"), audio remixes of "Total Eclipse" and "Mon Coeur" from Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters, Richard Barone, Moog Cookbook, and Man Parrish, a bunch of interviews, a photo gallery, and a trailer for the film and Gunner Palace.
This may be the best Behind the Music special you'll never see on VH1.