Tuxedomoon \ Short Biography
Left-field American new wave band Tuxedomoon formed in San Francisco in June 1977, initially around a creative nucleus of multi-instrumentalists Steven Brown and Blaine Reininger. The duo were later joined by bassist Peter 'Principle' Dachert and a flexible cast of associate members, notably vocalist Winston Tong, guitarist Michael Belfer and film-maker Bruce Geduldig.
After signing with the cryptic Ralph label, home to The Residents, Tuxedomoon recorded a string of seminal albums including Half Mute (1980) and Desire (1981), before electing to relocate to Europe in order to pursue a more overtly avant-garde agenda. A busy gig and recording schedule between March 1981 and April 1983 resulted in four important recordings, beginning with Divine, a ballet score for Maurice Bejart, Suite En Sous-Sol and a trio of classic singles for Les Disques du Crépuscule: Ninotchka, Time To Lose and The Cage. The most ambitious project from 1982, an 'opera without words' called The Ghost Sonata, was performed in Italy in July, but remained unreleased until 1990.
Blaine Reininger left the band in 1983, leaving Brown, Principle, Tong and Geduldig to consider their next move. Joined by versatile Dutch trumpet player Luc van Lieshout, the album Holy Wars emerged in 1985, after which Tong left for good. For Ship of Fools (1986) and You (1987) the group were joined by Ivan Georgiev.
The core trio of Brown, Reininger and Principle reunited for a successful world tour in 1988, and with Luc van Lieshout have continued to record and perform as Tuxedomoon since then.
Soundtracks/Urban Leisure CD (LTMCD 2331)
1. PLAN DELTA
Soundtrack to a 1986 sci-fi film by Dutch director Bob Visser, set in a post-apocalyptic future and filmed with a large dam complex as a background. Each of the four band members (Brown, Principle, Georgiev and van Lieshout) contributed a single composition, with Georgiev's Celebration Futur de la Divine truly shining on the powerful live version which closes this CD.
2. URBAN LEISURE SUITE
Urban Leisure dates from 1980, when the band were still based in San Francisco. The following interview (from July 1980) is taken from a longer piece which appeared in Praxis magazine, which included an extract from the Suite on a flexidisc. The full 11.32 version was released on the very limited Joeboy in Rotterdam album in 1981.
Praxis: How was the Urban Leisure project conceived?
Steven: Several months ago, while Peter was in New York, I had made some tapes of my own. I later played them for Winston and Bruce Geduldig. We felt there was something about this music that was very different - it felt very urban, yet relaxed. Then we hit on the concept of Urban Leisure, which we saw as a whole new music or genre, a kind of idealised style of living.
Blaine: Steven drew a picture of it, and we did a show around it, with the concept being us wearing white suits, sitting in lounge chairs, sipping long cool drinks in front of a projected slide of the Trans-America Pyramid.
Steven: I kept working on the rhythm tracks, Blaine made the melodic form and structure, Winston worked on narratives and Bruce started on the visuals.
Blaine: There was this real nice one that went with Devil Drum, a real percussive thing I did with two drum tracks out of sync with each other, with no beat, but obviously were throbbing drums. During this, Winston was miming driving a car, and wearing this terrible horrific mask. Behind him was a film of the Trans-America Pyramid projected on a realistic cardboard model of that same structure. The film had been filmed at such an angle that the film and the model were the exact same size, but one was moving while the other was stationary - one was moving forward through space, as if you were driving in a car.
Praxis: Exactly how many people were involved in this?
Blaine: Well, Steven and I and Bob Hoffner of Indoor Life - an excellent San Francisco band - constituted the orchestra, and Winston and Bruce did the visuals. Now as far as the music on the flexi disc, it's Steven and I.
3. THE FIELD OF HONOUR (HET VELD VAN EER)
Another Bob Visser film, this time from 1983. Fields of Honour dealt with a tourist couple encountering ghosts on the battlefields of the Great War of 1914-18, and marked the last Tuxedomoon recordings with Blaine Reininger before his departure. These tracks were previously released on the first volume in Crammed Discs' Made to Measure series.
4. THE GHOST SONATA
Tuxedomoon's celebrated 'opera without words' was performed at the Polverigi Theatre Festival in July 1982, and included some of the group's most ambitious music. Although a proper soundtrack album was not released until 1990, these three orchestrations were recorded for BRT Radio by the Flemish Chamber Orchestra of Brussels in January 1983, conducted by Arie van Liesbeth and produced for radio by Wim Mertens.