To be honest, I loathe the thought that many music lovers are convinced that today no original music is made. But it will be difficult to find a band that sounds as original as Tuxedomoon. This American band was formed by Blaine L. Reininger and Steven Brown at the end of the 70 (later joined by Peter Principle and Luc Van Lieshout). Their style?Almost impossible to describe, but let’s keep it to a quirky hybrid of post-punk , American new wave, avant garde, jazz and lots of experiment.
After the release of two EPs (No Tears and Scream With A View), the first album Half-Mute was released on Ralph Records (the label of The Residents). The album was a huge success and for many fans it ist one of their best (although Holy Wars is just as good). Nowadays, almost all classics are re-recorded, and fortunately that’s also the case with Half-Mute. Tuxedomoon not only plays the whole album on stage, it also was re-released and fully mastered.
Actually, it does not make much sense to analyze the record as everyone is indeed convinced that Half-Mute is one of the most important post-punk records ever. The instrumental Nazca sucks you straight away in the foreign (often frightening) Tuxedomoon atmosphere. Steven Brown’s saxophone and Blaine L. Reininger’s violin not only sound very special, but also very threatening. 59 To 1 is nervous post-punk. You hear that it comes from the eighties, but it doesn’t sound dated for a second. Dadaism and free jazz in a new wave zeitgeist.
On Fifth Column, melancholy comes around. The violins sound like laments. Loneliness barely lasts three minutes, but it has a very deep impact… here comes loneliness… ii is a song that immediately grabs you by the neck.
James Whale is quite experimental, but immediately after you hear the big hit What Use? In Volvo Vivace you clearly recognize some krautrock influences. Seven Years is perhaps the easiest song on Half-Mute. KM/Seeding The Clouds is the perfect ending for this masterpiece. You feel like you’re listening to a street musician, in the background you hear passing cars… the feeling of being lost in a big city.
The reissue not only has a superb sound, it also includes a superb bonus CD: Half-Mute Reflected, for which a whole range of artists (Simon Fisher Turner, Foetus, Georgio ‘The Dove’ Valentino or Aksak Maboul) rework the old songs. Not those bloody unnecessary remixes, but entirely new versions that give the tracks a whole new dimension.