Saturday, January 17, 2015

Review of the Show at The Garage, London, December, 2014

Here is a good review written by Darius Drewe for a blog called Shindig.

It is rare that we see reviews of live shows, and this is a particularly good one.

The Garage, London
December 18th

“Er…they’re a bit like Side 2 of Low or Heroes, sort of mixed with early Roxy, Chrome, the beats of Kraftwerk, bits of film noir soundtracks, synths like Tangerine Dream, with the eccentricity of the Residents, Magma or the Magic Band, the soundscapes of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and a singer who croons like Scott Walker…well, kind of, almost.”
Pity your poor correspondent, faced with the unenviable task of having to explain the singularly unclassifiable Tuxedomoon sound to Shindig!’s plus one. The fact remains, even after approaching 40 years, it’s still nigh-on impossible to get a handle on it. Possibly the best applicable description is of a band who, regardless of where they perform, always bring their own world with them. In a silver box.

Functioning, since reuniting in 1999 following an eight-year hiatus, around a core of founders Blaine Reininger, Peter Principle and Steve Brown (and flanked by visual artist Bruce Geduldig and retaining, from their later European incarnation, trumpeter Luc Van Lieshout), San Francisco’s most obtuse export is now simultaneously based in five corners of the globe. This distance not only serves their creative purpose, but remains apparent in the sonic space between each player, with several continual strands of differing origin pulling together towards a shared destination. Yet, even in the same city, that was always half the appeal. True, their ‘gothier’ fanbase would fixate (as with Psychic TV, Legendary Pink Dots or Nurse With Wound) on their ‘dark’ side, but unlike the grey post-industrial textures purveyed by their peers, theirs is neither a bleak or black planet: even in a traditional rock venue like The Garage, their nocturnal ambience remains either that of a velvet-draped nightspot after lights out or, as one might expect from any band named simultaneously after an item of clothing and a solar satellite, a twilight lunar landscape ‘pon some Dali-esque gas universe bedecked in shape-shifting purple foliage.

After Geduldig’s typically cryptic spoken intro (backed by a series of projections involving the adventures of a human videotape, perhaps unfortunately these days recalling more the Mighty Boosh than anything else) they ease in slowly, opening with predominantly instrumental material. Eventually Reninger steps to the mike, allowing Brown’s mournful soprano sax tones (recalling the sultriest moods of Crimson, VDGG or Amon Duul or the jazz cries of Roland Kirk as much as Andy Mackay’s work on For Your Pleasure) to parallel-tread the same dystopian causeways as his disconnected, laconic, yet elegant, vocal. As a result of this approach, ‘Nervous Guy’ receives fond recognition, yet still remains half a world from its original waxing. ‘Time To Lose’ and ‘Still Small Voice’ bear similar hallmarks, artificial electronic beats and minimal, chilling synths underlaying organic stabs of raw acid guitar and Jojouka-infused horns – all topped off by the lyrical observation of the last tipsy surrealist at the end of the bar. The same, only different.

Enigmatic they may be to the outsider, but once inside their rubber cave, the likes of ‘Annuncialto’ and ‘In The Name Of Talent (Italian Western Two)’ speak for themselves. In a world where most bands are content to just get up and play songs, Tuxedomoon, refusing to settle for such complacency, invite you instead to a musical transcript of their entire film, art and literature collections, and Shindig! will wager there’s some Fowles and Huxley on those shelves. Granted, whilst retaining their melodic flourish, they have lost some of the pop nous of ’78-‘86, thus leaving any attendees hoping for ‘What Use’ or ‘No Tears’ sorely disappointed. But thankfully, they’ve also lost the daft faux-Numan haircuts, cocktail jackets and tinny production that occasionally drowned their psych, free-improv and Kraut roots in New Romantic syrup. In their stead now stands a band closer to Reininger and Brown’s original vision than ever before, dealing in music to scare your partner with, rather than tunes to go on the pull to. In other words just as it should be. Sadly it’s all over in around eighty minutes, but of course, in Plutonian Gas Years, that equates to a century. Anyone got change for a Zod?

Darius Drewe
Tuxedomoon, live review
Posted on December 29, 2014 by the editors 

(see the article in situ

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