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Arts and Entertainment

CD Review: Tuxedomoon's 'Vapour Trails'

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Artist: Tuxedomoon
Album: Vapour Trails
Label: Crammed Discs
Release Date: 02/05/2008

Listen to "Kubrick":

It's hard to believe it's been thirty years since Tuxedomoon made their debut. They were part of San Francisco's weird music scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. At a time when West Coast punk was in it's nascent stages, and there were plenty of hippie-era hangers-on, Tuxedomoon's mix of electronica, jazz, and rock found its place in both snobby couture salons as well as onstage as an opener for Devo. The band moved to Europe because obviously the US wasn't ready for them and they were right. They relocated to Belgium and after a few albums and lineup changes they semi-retired for a while until this release, recorded in Greece in 2006 but put out today by Belgian label Crammed Discs.

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After 15 years of electronica pushing its way into the mainstream (and staying there), I think the US is more than ready for Tuxedomoon. Steven Brown's voice is very Bryan Ferry-like which, for me, invoked a pleasant nostaligia of the band's (first) heyday of the '80s. The overall feel of the album is very downtempo with some definite jazz references with guitar and hornwork but there's drum machines in there and plenty of interesting samples and ambient sounds. The sample track I chose "Kubrick" (above) I thought was particularly brilliant as it does dwell upon the musical themes of multiple Stanley Kubrick films, 2001 in particular. Tuxedomoon's music is esoteric and still exotic sounding and while there are plenty of ecclectic electronica artists out there in recent years, but these tend to me solo or duo projects. Tuxedomoon is weirdness and ambience created by a focused team that has been pushing an idea for more than 30 years and is well worth a listen.