Time Out New York / Issue 531: December 1–7, 2005 Review


Cabin in the Sky (Crammed Discs)


Tuxedomoon never really disbanded. After spending the better part of the '80s and some of the following decade in Brussels, the San Francisco–spawned avant-vaudeville ensemble's core members simply dispersed to far-flung corners of the globe, reforming for collaborations and the occasional tour or one-off. Thanks to regular, if casual, contact and an enduring predilection for marrying acoustic and electronic instrumentation in surreal, futuristic combinations, the interval between 1987's You and the new Cabin in the Sky comes off like a three-day weekend.

The band's uncanny capacity for uniting disparate moods and genres rages on undeterred. "Baron Brown" finds bassist Peter Principle typically providing continuity and thrust over sparse, electroplasmic percussion, acting as both foil and underpinning for dissonant piano flourishes and subtly monomaniacal accordion; Steven Brown's noble saxophone and Blaine Reininger's diabolical violin offer further opposition, as do the founding duo's vocal trade-offs. Indulging thespian tendencies honed since the band's inception in '77, Brown comes off like a youngish Eartha Kitt when intoning lines such as "Make them all hear / About love / And that terrible beauty that runs in our blood." Reininger—much of his old Bowie vibe replaced by true grit—waxes contrastingly sleazy, especially on the chorus's silliest quatrain: "It's old Count Dracula / Take you in the backula / Of a feast we will partake / A meal of you I'll make." With yens like these, the presence of pals DJ Hell and Tarwater seems mere frosting on the band's perpetually fresh cake.—Rod Smith