Tuxedomoon archives, one year on

Tomorrow will mark one year since the launch of the Tuxedomoon bandcamp archives page… I am grateful to Blaine, Steven and Luc for having entrusted me with curating and designing this project. I try to develop it as a labour of love, an act of reciprocity for all they have provided us with throughout the decades, the musical enjoyment, inspiration, intellectual and artistic sophistication, historical lessons…
I am honoured for the privilege and can only hope to pay justice to this 40-year-plus epic.

Additional thanks to Isabelle, Anselmo, Gretchen, Ann, Saskia, Dok, Alessandro, Pierre, Richard, Patrick, Marc and everyone else whose advice, content and consent have been essential ingredients in these editions.

Edition 11 out shortly, may a thousand more follow!
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A Family in Retrospect

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Today was a day of pilgrimage, one of those moments that defy the perceived linearity of one’s life course…

Over 30 years ago I was a young, curious, naive, thirsty creative who had the good fortune to hang out with a few luminaries in the performance world: thanks in no small part to António Olaio and his international networks, I found myself at the epicenter of a performance art maelstrom in Clerkenwell in early 1988. I presented a piece, which in retrospect was all I was – peripheral, young, tentative. But I was certainly taking notes from the masters – André Stitt, Hester Reeve, Lucia King, Bruce Gilchrist, Tara Babel, Marie Kawazu… all under the mindful eye of Rob LaFrenais.

A reunion took place this evening, to signal the birth of an archive of that era (and a page is thus written for posterity), and to enjoy the immense pleasure of an in-person reunion. In a day and age of hyper-legibility and safety regulations, upon arrival this evening I felt a homecoming, I sensed echoes of the open-endedness we then pursued, the sense of adventure, the sheer vibrancy of it all. I felt an immense melancholia tonight, but also an enormous pride in having somehow been offered a place and a role, however small, in this particular legacy.

The archives will be an important part of this attempt at perpetuity, but how to convey having lived through that era, when the foundations of our desires and celebrations have meanwhile lost their context, their lexicon? In a way it’s simply called growing old: reconciling oneself with the fact that we can recover, evoke, testify, disseminate – but never quite convey what was at the heart of it. We know because we lived it, but that is ultimately where it ends.

In retrospect I now see much clearer how that moment in time, how these friends were so decisive to who I became, so decisive to the paths I carved in life. I am grateful for this family, a family I now finally recognise and fully acknowledge as such, no matter how circumstantial. I am so thankful.

Regrets and Gratitude

And so we look back, regrets and gratitude
For those last words not uttered to the departed
For affection envisioned and clumsily scattered
For a youth further faded, the one we never lived.

A wealth of failure and antagonism turned acceptance
A heritage of misgivings turned forgiveness
What could have been
Now sways, brimming with hope: we still can, somehow.

Promises of self-discipline, soon to be swallowed
Through the cracks in our character
The ones we are blind to, the ones
That fall prey to yet-unwritten disasters
And oh, they will come.

And yet we persist
While this Life belongs to us.
I am thankful for this Year
To you, my protagonists, I am indebted
You know who you are.

 

 

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Comet loops

I first saw Telectu live back in 1985/6 at Teatro Carlos Alberto; they played “Halley” alongside a performance by our dear departed Brinquinho, who enmeshed himself in silk tunics and incarnated a comet among the audience. I remember the acoustics being vast and majestic, my young ears opening up.

A few years later I saw them again in passing at Pinguim Café; the vibe now was of course very different, this was a bar, not a seated auditorium. People drank and chatted (myself included) as Jorge Lima Barreto grooved away on the keys and Vítor Rua held it together as ever. Somehow it worked, as a hesitant prescience of this future-now-turned-present where music is the backdrop to the self-fixated feature film called “our lives”.

I look forward to Telectu tonight at SEMIBREVE, no doubt a very different experience from the previous two. Sparse crossings that help read a broader map of our brief time in this particular cosmic guise. Or if you’d rather, a recurring intersection, much like the loop of a comet.

Image: detail from António Palolo’s cover for Telectu’s “Halley”, 1985

Zooming out

I’ve been silent because I believe the issue resides elsewhere… this is simply a local manifestation of the widespread inability of contemporary culture and society to acknowledge and incorporate transgression. Transgression cannot become mainstream without losing its soul, and hereby resides the paradox – and the imperative of context. Rather than visiting an exhibition as “cultural experts”, they should instead be getting a crash course on the history of counter-cultures that emancipated so many from stigma – and paradoxically ended up tamed in this perverse wave of sanitised eroticism. Zoom out, guys, it’s a sign of the times.

R.I.P. Charles Aznavour

Deeply saddened by the passing of Charles Aznavour… with him a bit of the post-war dream of a gentler world fades away. His voice conveyed so much beyond the lyrics and the melodies, there was a charisma, a presence in his delivery that was in itself a message. And so quite a bit of the soundtrack to my early years becomes more distant, and a lighthouse to my parents’ generation goes out.

Smarties!

I believe the word “smart” is still the best available example of how our lexicon is being turned into its opposite, short-circuiting our expectations and narrative legacies in the process. The latest example is Gmail’s brand new “smart composing” function. It prides itself in predicting what one will write.

Should’t that be… “dumb composing”?

Of course, the issue here is that the word “smart” is qualifying the technology, not us; we… we’re supposed to be dumb lazy users who cannot be bothered to work out the sentence we mean to write. Progress!

Afar

There is a kind of longing that lives in the recordings of Hans-Joachim Roedelius that I have never quite heard captured elsewhere. It’s in the wandering melodies, for sure, but in the acoustics as well… there is an “afar” to it, an Autumnal evening feel, I don’t know how else to put it…

This absolute gem is from 1986 and it precedes by decades so many of the ambient trends. And it’s still far above most of them. I bought it for the first time on cassette in San Francisco in 1991 and worn it out not long thereafter…

Storm L’Oeil

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The stormy skies yesterday night made for some fascinating optical illusions… at times, whenever the full moon peeked through the odd opening among the thick clouds, it seemed that the negative space itself became a bright, otherworldly cloud.

 

 

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