CULTURE

Tuxedomoon tour with new CD

Close to three decades after emerging from an electronic music lab at a San Francisco college, the avant-garde collective Tuxedomoon, currently united after several extended breaks, even breakups, is touring with a new album. Its itinerary includes two stops in Greece, at the Gagarin club in Athens this Friday and at Thessaloniki’s Entechno Fix the following evening. Considering the collective’s ongoing solo ventures and scattered home bases, the reunion ranks as quite a feat. Despite the geographical and practical difficulties, the collective’s core trio of Steven Brown, nowadays a resident of Mexico, Blaine Reininger, who has resided in Greece for nearly a decade, and New York-based Peter Principle, along with their Brussels-based associates Bruce Geduldig and Luc Van Lieshout, have spent time working together over the past year, both on stage and in the studio. The reunion inspired a new album, «Cabin in the Sky,» the collective’s first offering of new material in years. With them in the studio was Greek electronica artist and producer Coti K, a ubiquitous and prolific figure behind countless projects here in Greece, including albums by the locally influential and now-defunct act Stereo Nova. «Cabin in the Sky» comes as the latest of a dozen or so albums, as a group, following influential works such as «Half Mute,» Desire,» «Suite En Sous-Sol,» «Ghost Sonata,» and «Holy Wars.» From early on, it was clear that Tuxedomoon was out to go a step beyond the conventional. The electronic-oriented collective’s work has ranged from new wave pop, post-punk, and jazz fusion to more experimental synthesizer soundscapes. On stage, the music has often been presented as part of performance art shows. One of these shows, at the Lycabettus Theater in Athens in the late 1990s, was documented on celluloid by local film director Nikos Triandafyllidis, also an avid fan of the band’s work. Not long after forming in 1977, Tuxedomoon found themselves amid San Francisco’s punk and new wave scene. Their brand of wide-eyed punk that also carried classical, jazz and funk elements, quickly gained the band a cult following. During its embryonic phase, the group landed an opening slot for Devo. Around this time it cut its first release, «Pinheads on the Move,» a single. In 1979, the band signed to the Residents’ Ralph Records, which eventually provided them with overseas exposure. Drawn to Europe after feeling that their ideas were more aligned with developments on the Continent’s electronic music scene, Tuxedomoon toured the region extensively in 1980. After 1981’s «Desire,» one of the act’s most celebrated efforts, it relocated to Rotterdam. In Europe, the collective was commissioned to write the score for a Maurice Bejart ballet, whose results were released in 1982 as «Divine.» Reininger, whose solo career had begun to branch out soon after the act’s arrival in Rotterdam, distanced himself from the collective in 1983. By 1985, more reshuffling within the collective’s ranks left just Brown and Principle on board as the collective’s only remaining San Francisco members. Over the years, however, the collective’s personnel has worked together in various combinations, and, occasionally, as a whole. Moreover, solo projects have been abundant. During recent years, the band’s activity together has been considerable. Projects have included a Russian-only live album culled from shows in 2000, as well as touring around Europe. As for the latest recording, the collective’s global span helps explain the worldliness of Tuxedomoon’s new album, «Cabin in the Sky.» Impressionistic strings, wistful flourishes of brass and accordion, electronic noises and lyrics sung in Italian and French provide unashamedly romantic textures amid abrasive streaks and bittersweet cacophonies. Though consistently spacious and unhurried, «Cabin in the Sky» could well be Tuxedomoon’s first real pop album – that is, if pop music can be defined as a musical form based on creative freedom rather than