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Vapour Trails

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Album Review

Tuxedomoon's continuing career as a thriving self-contained artistic unit, long after the era most casual fans associate them with, works as an inspiration on its own, but it's especially good to hear that the music remains at a high quality as well. Vapour Trails, recorded in Blaine L. Reininger's recent home base of Athens, finds him and his colleagues — lifers Steven Brown and Peter Principle, plus Luc Van Lieshout — pursuing their muses as they choose, mixing and matching sounds in unusual ways, simultaneously straightforwardly melodic and fracturing around the edges. Their sense of dwelling in a wide world on all fronts is readily heard even in the lyrics — Reininger's first vocal is in Spanish on "Muchos Colores," while other lyrics perhaps unsurprisingly feature Greek (the chanting on "Epso Meth Lama" helps make that song the most dramatic on the whole album, a slowly building epic in miniature). The album's eight selections almost seem to be internally melting, everything from cool jazz brass to distant strings to bubbling rhythm boxes resulting in the near equivalent of chiaroscuro, light and dark and more blended into something new and distinct. Brown's saxophone work often provides the role of lead instrument, adding a soaring counterpoint to the chugging growl of "Still Small Voice" and the more murky free float of "Dark Temple," while Van Lieshout's trumpet provides counterpoint on "Big Olive." The group's sense of wry humor certainly hasn't disappeared either — "Kubrick," one of the band's more unsettling instrumental tracks to start with, with the basslines providing the anchor of deep washes of electronic and piano, gets a further boost from the wordless vocal parts clearly meant to resemble the famous unearthly choirs heard on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rovi


Formed: 1977 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The music of avant-garde, electronic-oriented collective Tuxedomoon ranged from new wave pop to jazz fusion to more experimental synthesizer soundscapes (usually including saxophone and violin), which were frequently married in concert to performance art shows. The group was formed in San Francisco in 1977 by two electronic music students at San Francisco City College, Blaine L. Reininger (keyboards, violin) and Steven Brown (keyboards, other instruments). Brown's local theater connections supplied...
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Vapour Trails, Tuxedomoon
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