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Born in 1977, in the heady atmosphere of San Francisco's postpunk golden age, the band soon became a central part of New York's No Wave scene (as documented in the recent "Downtown 81" film, centered around Jean Michel Basquiat and featuring performances by Blondie, James Chance, DNA and Tuxedomoon). "No Tears", their 2nd single (1979), has remained an electro punk club classic to this day.
The band went on to sign to The Residents' Ralph Records, and released two seminal albums, "Half Mute" and "Desire", which soon got them overseas exposure.
Fleeing Reagan's America, Tuxedomoon moved to Europe in the early '80s, and stayed there throughout the decade. Although their ability to crystallize a certain dark and romantic zeitgeist quickly turned them into one of the most influential bands around, their music transcended all genres and included impossibly wide parameters - rock, electronics, minimal music, classical, jazz, Gypsy music and pop were all simultaneously consumed and transmutated into a quasi-prescient blend.
After releasing a string of albums on CramBoy (the imprint they set up with Brussels-based label Crammed Discs), the band stopped recording together in 1988, and the various members pursued solo careers, becoming as disparate geographically as sonically, with Steven Brown (vocals, keyboard & saxophone) living in Mexico, Peter Principle (bass, electronics) in New York, Blaine L. Reininger (vocals, violin, guitar) in Greece, and Luc Van Lieshout (trumpet) & Bruce Geduldig (films/visuals) in Brussels.
Many years later, Tuxedomoon got back together to write and record the awesome "Cabin In The Sky" album (2004), which found them in absolute top form, as romantic, rebellious and boundlessly imaginative as they ever were. "Cabin" featured contributions by a carefully hand-picked selection of guests such as Tarwater, Tortoise's John McEntire, Nouvelle Vague's Marc Collin, Aksak Maboul (aka Crammed founder Marc Hollander and Konono N1 producer Vincent Kenis) and DJ Hell.
Shortly after finishing "Cabin In The Sky", Tuxedomoon traveled back to San Francisco, the band's birthplace, in order to start writing material for their next album. But the local atmosphere had unexpected effects on them, and drove them to record a series of "spontaneous compositions" (as Mingus would have put it) instead, which soon formed the basis of a side project entitled "Bardo Hotel Soundtrack", loosely connected to Brion Gysin's novel The Bardo Hotel' set in the Paris hotel where he and William Burroughs invented the radical cut-up/fold-in technique.
Both "Cabin ..." and "Bardo Hotel ..." were warmly welcomed, and a wildly eclectic, almost surreal array of references sprang from the pens of reviewers trying to describe Tuxedomoon's music (Charles Ives, Radiohead, Philip Glass, Miles Davis, German electronica, Tom Waits, John Cage, Kurt Weill, Tortoise, Can ). If anything, these two recent albums revealed that Tuxedomoon were never connected to a particular period: they had become '80s cult figures simply because that's the period in which they happened to develop and rise to fame... but the band have always been evolving in their own space, and their music is as relevant and fresh today as it was then. An impression to be further strengthened by their upcoming new album "Vapour Trails".