Music for Vagabonds - The Tuxedomoon Chronicles by Isabelle Corbisier

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Isabelle Corbisier
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Music for Vagabonds - The Tuxedomoon Chronicles

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Book review

Tuxedomoon is a group of musicians and performers - whose main members are: Blaine Reininger, Steven Brown, Peter Principle, Winston Tong, Luc van Lieshout and Bruce Geduldig - that was formed in San Francisco in 1977. They started out as the musical backdrop of the Angels Of Light, i.e. a gender-fuck free theater group, which was itself an offshoot of the (in)famous Cockettes, founded by the legendary Hibiscus (aka New York actor George Harris) in the late sixties. When the local version of punk rock broke loose, Tuxedomoon, originally a rather psychedelic/hippie venture, embraced that new energy and became one of the most revered bands of the Bay Area. They wrote the celebrated "No Tears" single, still a classic on the electro/post-punk/techno scene. Over the years they have been described in a myriad of ways: "Post-punk", "early techno", "avant-garde", "music for non-existent films", "cybergypsy", "lyrical and romantic", "a brilliant fusion between new wave's rigidity, classical emphase and traditional melancholy", "punk jazz", "a musical Tower of Babel", "equal parts cabaret, jazz, rock and contemporary chamber music", "a distinctly European sound but tempered by a facetiously sinister wit", "a kaleidoscope of many influences, but disposing of them with the same nonchalant ease as a snake shedding its old skin." Journalists have never been short of devising labels to describe Tuxedomoon's music, yet none of these ever seemed completely satisfactory. Tuxedomoon's identity is as elusive as their geographical location. In 1981, they fled Ronald Reagan's America and established themselves in Brussels, from where they started an endless exploration of Europe. They toured improbable little towns as well as big cities, released inspired records and initiated many collaborations. Tuxedomoon attracted followers and gained cult status, never ceasing their quest for a permanently elusive and lost "home," - some other America or the quaint Europe of their fantasies. Over time the certainty of finding that destination disappeared, but the will to travel remained. The members of Tuxedomoon are the musical vagabonds of our times of nomadism. From 2001 onwards, the author of this book found herself sucked into Tuxedomoon's spiral of vagrancy and traveled the world to meet the actors in this ongoing 30-year-old story. All of the interviews presented within the pages of her book form the chronicles of a unique group of wandering performers. The book features many black & white photographs from the early days until now.

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