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Bardo Hotel Soundtrack

Wednesday, Aug 9 2006
Bardo Hotel Soundtrack is Tuxedomoon's first locally recorded disc since the band relocated to Europe more than 25 years ago. This fact is noteworthy because the group, which began life opening for Devo and recording for the Residents' Ralph Records, was one of the Bay Area's seminal new-wave outfits. But unlike most of this art school collective's original San Fran contemporaries, Tuxedomoon's wine 'n' cheese approach to sonic experimentation — a fusion of synth pop, modern theater, sound collage, and horn-based free improv — has always felt just a bit too highbrow for my debased sensibilities. Then again, the group is owed some serious respect because B.H.S. , a sprawling soundscape of droning ambience and austere chamber dub, is irrefutable proof that Tuxedomoon has never given up its exploration of music's outer fringes. Oh sure, this disc is totally a product of that refined, continental-bred experimentalism popular with the Wire readership, but it also exudes a real meditative cool seemingly influenced by Miles' In a Silent Way and Miles Smiles. And that's pretty damn sweet.

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Justin F. Farrar


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