Tag: Tuxedomoon (Page 1 of 2)

POLYCHRON+ She’s Always Been There

POLYCHRON+ is the new electro-acoustic project by veteran Italian producer Gabriele Gai with songwriter, musician and vocalist Aurelio Menichi.

To say their debut album ‘She’s Always Been There’ is something a bit different and unusual would be an understatement.

Not only does it mix electronically derived Mediterranean dance music with Tuscan folk and classical forms, it has an impressive cast of guests including Anna Domino, Blaine L. Reininger and Luc Van Lieshout from TUXEDOMOON.

It is a cultured and sophisticated album that includes the synthetic torch cabaret of ‘Alaska Drive’ sung by NicoNote and the arty jazz-inflected Italo disco of ‘Twist The Knife’ featuring crooner Alex Spalck and Luc Van Lieshout on trumpet. Standing next to them is the brilliantly understated house of ‘Lighter Than The Blue’ which sees Blaine L. Reininger not only offer his pronounced Leonard Cohen-esque baritone but also bring a virtuoso violin performance to the party.

‘Yeh-Teh’ springs a surprise with some enjoyable avant garde rapping and a snarling sample from a BBC interview with John Lydon declares “I want everything in life to be transparent… let us as human beings determine our own journey in life!”

What is contained on ‘She’s Always Been There’ is nothing but diverse, with melancholic piano assisted instrumentals like ‘Morbid Love’ and the delicate Anna Domino voiced flutey guitar ballad ‘Pocketknife’ figuring. Meanwhile ‘Gum, Le Blue Jar’ could be a reggaefied YELLO while a cover of Italian post-punk band GAZNEVADA’s ‘Tij-U-Wan’ throws in spikey rock and the influence of DEVO halfway through!

Seeded by life, disappointments and grief with cinematic reference points to the Les Disques Du Crepuscule and Crammed Records catalogue as well as Italian New Wave, ‘She’s Always Been There’ will appeal to fans of the TUXEDOMOON axis with its refined electronic base embellished by a variety of traditional instrumentation.


‘She’s Always Been There’ is released in CD and digital formats by Totem Taboo and distributed by Materiali Sonori

https://www.facebook.com/polychronplus/

https://open.spotify.com/album/4FzDi2KbpvajkEmDZohmlL


Text by Chi Ming Lai
19th January 2022

BLAINE L REININGER Wounds & Blessings

Colorado-born Blaine L Reininger is best known as a member of TUXEDOMOON, a classically trained musician who embraced the European avant-garde and now lives in Greece.

Exponents of “cabaret no-wave”, TUXEDOMOON’s second album ‘Desire’ released in 1981 was co-produced by Gareth Jones after the band were impressed by his engineering skills on John Foxx’s ‘Metamatic’. Blaine L Reininger had a parallel solo career and continuing to work with Gareth Jones, released the acclaimed 1984 album ‘Night Air’ which featured the TB303 driven cinematic synthpop of ‘Mystery & Confusion’.

‘Wounds & Blessings’ is Reininger’s new studio double album featuring 28 new tracks organised into 4 themed suites of Songs, Bricolage, Sourced and Serene. Featuring TUXEDOMOON bandmates Steven Brown, Luc van Lieshout and Paul Zahl as well as Greek guitarist Tile-machos Moussas, Reininger additionally utilises computer plug-ins, samplers and AI-assisted lyrics alongside his trusty violin and guitar. The end result ranges from purely orchestral to entirely electronic compositions with everything in between.

With the world’s current state of flux, the subject of mortality heavily colours ‘Wounds & Blessings’. With an infectious electronic bass squelch, ringing keyboard signatures and a cacophony of swooping guitars, the Bowie-esque ‘100 Sad Fingers’ sees Reininger adopt baritone alongside an across a striking range of backing vocals. The art rock thrust of ‘I Inhabit The Dunes’ sounds like it could have come off ‘The Next Day’ or ‘Lodger’ for that matter while ‘Je Retournerai’ is more reminiscent of Iggy Pop.

Taking the pace down, ‘Chemise Grise’ is sung partly in French and recalls Leonard Cohen but ‘Trials & Tribulations’ springs a surprise at the start with dance beats and vocoder.

‘Roll Off The Edge’ is a crazy combination of tablas, jazz, funk, post-punk, chants and bursts of organ while ‘Occult Simplicities’ though could be best described as art school Lalo Schifrin!

The second half displays more of the considered classical and soundtrack styled compositions as featured on the ‘Commissions’ series with jazz inflections over drum loops as on ‘Newbs Descending A Staircase’ and the moodier instrumental territory of ‘Die Ferne Klang’ where Reininger’s sombre violin moods come to fore alongside percolating electronic vibes. ‘Sun Package’ combines rootsy slide guitar with a widescreen synthetic backdrop while the eerie ‘Unbirthday’ provides some nocturnal reflection. As the album progresses onto its home straight, the more traditional ‘Cahiers Noirs’ rings with the sadness of real and virtual violins before ‘Push’ presents sections of discordant ivory passages to close.

Blaine L Reininger is nothing but diverse and stylistically, he has never been able to be placed in a genre box. Fans will again relish the variation on offer with this ambitious work. Requiring more than a passing listen to be appreciated, casual observers may only find a quarter of the ‘Wounds & Blessings’ immediately appealing but that is already 3 or 4 tracks more than most albums offer on the quality front these days anyway.


‘Wounds & Blessings’ is released by Les Disques du Crépuscule as a 2CD set and download, available now from https://www.lesdisquesducrepuscule.com/wounds_and_blessings_twi1255.html and https://burningshed.com/store/les-disques-du-crepuscule_store/blaine-l-reininger_wounds-and-blessings_2cd

https://mundoblaineo.org/

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by George Geranios
2nd January 2021

BLAINE L REININGER Commissions 2

Blaine L Reininger is the noted American singer and multi-instrumentalist who crossed the Atlantic with TUXEDOMOON and eventually settled in Europe.

Initially finding a home in post-punk Brussels, he now happily resides in Athens, an environment that has provided him with the freedom to compose genre-crossing works, both solo and with his iconic band.

Casual music observers may know Blaine L Reininger for the TB303 driven cinematic synthpop of ‘Mystery & Confusion’ from 1984.

But his latest collection ‘Commissions 2’ released by Les Disques du Crépuscule gathers soundtrack music made for theatre and dance productions staged between 2015-2019. It follows-up his previous soundtrack anthology from 2014.

These include ‘Angels’, ‘Caligula’, ‘The Kindly Ones’, ‘Reigen’, ‘Master & Margarita’, ‘Picnic With the Devil’ and ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ with the pieces ultilising a variety of textures including synthesizers, piano, guitar, string bass, cimbalom, ukulele, choirs and Reininger’s ever faithful violin.

The works range from atmospheric and eerie to grand and gothic, but despite their experimental nature, are mostly highly listenable in their own right. Opening the package, ‘Im Eiswind’ from ‘The Kindly Ones’ manages to mix all of the attributes afore mentioned, with the violin working well alongside various Mellotron sounds.

‘Atomium Sunrise’ is more ambient in tone while ‘Cold Song’ is appropriately dominated by an ominous synthbass, as is the dramatic ‘Krakenangriff’ from ‘Master & Margarita’,

Meanwhile ‘Alter Ego’ also off ‘Master & Margarita’ unexpectedly brings in vocoder and apes classic DEPECHE MODE.

But ‘Petao, Petao’ plays with arpeggios and haunting choirs while ‘You People Amaze Me’ uses a lot of reverse treatments over a solemn repeated organ.

Beginning disc two which has a more arthouse approach, the Eno-esque ‘Because It’s Me’ from ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ pulses along with soothing understated electronics and vocoder treatments next to slightly detuned chimes which combine for a fabulously spacey effect.

Both ‘Betweenspace’ and ‘Mauthausen Girls’ offer a more acoustic outlook within a uneasy schizophrenic cocoon, but ‘Novvy Kover’ crosses accordion with synths in a manner that is more like an aural collage.

The accordion-laden Terrible Father’ from ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ springs a surprise with a spirited vocal from Reininger, while the self-explanatory ‘Rilke Elegy’ from Reigen’ sets the tone with thoughtful lyrics.

‘Where Did They Take Him?’ from ‘The Kindly Ones’ is understandably sombre in tone, highlighting the more traditional format that dominates disc two, although ‘Happy New Year, Dorothy’ is a lively rhythmic piece with a most beautiful fiddle hook.

A fine collection of accessible soundtrack works with disc two being of a more avant garde bent, those new to the work of Reininger will find a nice entry point in disc one, while TUXEDOMOON fans will relish what is presented on disc two.

‘Commissions 2’ is thus a win-win for anyone with an interest in quality soundtrack compositions.


‘Commissions 2’ is released by Les Disques du Crépuscule as a 2CD set and download, available now from https://lesdisquesducrepuscule.com/commissions_2_twi1246cd.html

https://mundoblaineo.org/

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Text by Chi Ming Lai
18th November 2019

THIRD NOISE PRINCIPLE Formative North American Electronica 1975-1984

‘Third Noise Principle’ is the latest instalment of the ‘Close To The Noise Floor’ compilations and follows the two previous Cherry Red releases, which rather wonderfully rounded up collections of rare, formative and experimental electronic music from both the UK and Europe.

Helpfully described as “Part primitive rave, part synthesiser porn, part history lesson”, this time round sees the location moving across the Atlantic to explore the North American and Canadian electronic music scene.

As with the past two releases the album has well-known artists like SUICIDE, THE RESIDENTS, PHILIP GLASS, MINISTRY, PSYCHE and RATIONAL YOUTH rubbing shoulders with some acts who (for a variety of reasons) didn’t quite gain the same amount of exposure and musical notoriety.

Kickstarting CD1 is short-lived Arizona synth duo TONE SET with ‘The Devil Makes The Loudest Noise’; almost a leftfield lo-fi cousin of LIPPS INC’s ‘Funky Town’ with a sample recording from a religious radio phone-in over some multi-layered synth bass. The second half of the track goes on a more funky excursion of improvised synth and a completely new progression, but the aforementioned sample ties everything together.

‘Creators’ by DATA-BANK-A is an unashamedly Foxx / League-inspired instrumental combining an Oberheim TVS-1 synth, primitive Maestro Rhythm King beatbox and overlaid synth percussion. Wonderfully quirky and melodic, this is certainly one of the gems of CD1 and the guy behind it, Andrew Szava-Kovats, is still recording under the DATA-BANK-A moniker, having released three albums last year on Bandcamp.

Atlanta’s RICHARD BONE is arguably a little better known over this side of the pond, having signed to the UK’s Survival Records; ‘Mambopolis’ is full of sharp as a knife hi-hats and another funky synth bass and vocal which recalls that man Foxx again.

Things start to wind their way down the rabbit hole with ‘Logarithms’ by GEOFFREY LANDERS; full of stop-start Roland CR78 and junkyard percussion, the track seemingly takes its cues from the pioneering work of tape-loop innovators like DELIA DERBYSHIRE with its found-sound overlays.

After working with Brian Eno, Robin Crutchfield formed DARK BOY and their featured track on ‘Third Noise Principle’ is ‘The Metal Benders’; a glorious hybrid of the original ‘Being Boiled’ and ULTRAVOX’s ‘Mr X’, this is another absolute proto-synth gem.

SUICIDE’s ‘Rocket USA’ is one of the better known tracks here; featured on their classic eponymous 1977 album which was recorded in four days, it helped set the template for their sound with Martin Rev’s minimalist electronics, scratchy organ and drum machine attached to Alan Vega’s classic rock ‘n’ roll-inspired vocal delivery.

Of all of the tracks on CD1, CRAIG LEON’s wonderfully titled ‘Donkeys Bearing Cups’ is comfortably the most contemporary sounding one here. Whereas most of the works on this compilation are easily dateable via their drum machine and synth sounds, this one certainly isn’t. It’s the kind of track you could imagine The Quietus going bonkers for if it was released this year by somebody like AUTECHRE or APHEX TWIN; incredibly ahead of its time and another superb find.

The second CD of Third Noise Principle’ is arguably more eclectic. ‘Ange Des Orages’ by PHILIP GLASS (which originally appeared on the 1977 album ‘North Star’) features his signature hypnotic hand-played arpeggios with Farfisa / Yamaha / Hammond organ textures which spiral up and down and get progressively more dense throughout the track.

PATRICK COWLEY (who is best known for his pioneering HI-NRG disco work) features next with one of his earlier more experimental works; ‘Primordial Landscape’ (which was released on the album ‘School Daze’) is an intriguing piece, almost TANGERINE DREAM-like in places, slowly evolving with white noise shot percussion and a clavinet bass part. For those familiar with his later work including his remix of Donna Summer’s seminal ‘I Feel Love’, the musical aesthetic of this piece will come as a quite pleasant surprise!

Mute Records artist NON (which was a collaboration between Boyd Rice and Robert Turman) make an appearance with their track ‘Modes of Infection’; owners of the ‘Mute Audio Documents’ compilation will recognise this piece which takes a four note synth riff and hammers it out for the entirety of the track over a simplistic hi-hat pattern.In terms of production values and melodic content, ‘Oreo Strut’ by MARC BARRECA is head shoulders above most of the pieces on CD2; the synth programming and sequencer work here is certainly ahead of its time. Barreca continues to produce now and has some of his work included in the collection of The British Library.

LAURIE SPIEGEL is now rightly acknowledged as one of the pioneers of female electronic music; ‘Drums’ (which ironically doesn’t actually feature any percussion) is one of the tracks she created using early interactive computer systems. Put together using a Bell Labs GROOVE (“Generating Realtime Operations On Voltage-controlled Equipment”) computer system, which in Spiegel’s words “… was used to make sudden sharp electrical transients, simply the sound of individual bits being turned on and off, which were wired out to pulse high-Q resonant filters”. The end result is a hypnotic, polyrhythmic piece; although lacking in much in the way of melody, ‘Drums’ is a fascinating polyrhythmic work which could be seen as sowing the seeds of the Minimal Techno genre.

The tracks which make up most of CD3 are (depending upon preference) either works of leftfield genius or the kind you’d pigeonhole as CABARET VOLTAIRE-style B-sides or experiments, to be listened to once and then never again. The artists which fall under this category include the pieces by GIRLS ON FIRE, XX COMMITTEE, DOG AS MASTER, CONTROLLED BLEEDING and SMERSH.

Moving onto CD4 and an early highlight is ‘Geomancy’ by JOEL GRAHAM, recorded live on primarily Korg gear including an MS10, MS20, VC10, SQ sequencer and an SH101. Once you get past the slow build minimal 2 minute intro, the track bursts into life with a chordal synth part and what you have is a piece which pre-dates ORBITAL by several years that is brilliant stuff…

’Thirty Years’ by EXECUTIVE SLACKS is another gem, one of the few works on the compilation to feature vocals, this song is almost EBM-like or a combo of DAF with added guitars. In the accompanying album booklet, there is a rather wonderful recounting of some the band’s early live performances, including ones which were more art project than actual gig. This including hosting a cheese and wine house party, putting the refreshments in the corner and then subjecting the audience to a pathway of noise experiments before they got to their food and refreshments.

In terms of the more higher profile artists here, TUXEDOMOON feature with their lo-fi twisted cover of Cole Porter’s ‘Night & Day’ whilst Canadian trailblazers RATIONAL YOUTH are represented with a demo of their KRAFTWERK-inspired ‘Dancing On The Berlin Wall’. The latter’s album ‘Cold War Night Life’ deservedly went onto become one of Canada’s best-selling independent albums of the era with support opening for OMD to follow.

When NASH THE SLASH toured the UK supporting Gary Numan, he was exposed to THE WOMBLES animated kids TV series and wrote ‘Womble’ as a result. Although it is hard to see the connection between the track, which is a dark industrial piece, and the furry animal featuring TV show, NASH THE SLASH remains an underappreciated and influential artist who never really got the acclaim he deserved.

STEVE ROACH’s ‘Worlds’ takes things back to TANGERINE DREAM-style ambience; beautifully produced with interlocking Berlin School style sequencers, this 1983 track has hardly dated one iota. YOUNG SCIENTIST continues on in the same vein with ‘Ice Flow’, a collaboration between artists featured elsewhere on this compilation and channels the sound of TD’s ‘Rubycon’ yet still sounds original…

This sixty track compilation deserves to be held in the same kind of reverence as the ‘Mute Audio Documents’ one; it pulls together a superb mixture of hard to find tracks and more established tracks from the US synth scene and does it exceptionally well.

If you are looking for an album which helps reinforce and define the importance of the US on electronic music, then this is definitely the one.


With thanks to Matt Ingham at Cherry Record Records

‘Third Noise Principle’ is released by Cherry Red Records on 25th January 2019, pre-order from https://www.cherryred.co.uk/product/third-noise-principle-formative-north-american-electronica-1975-1984-various-artists-4cd-48pp-bookpack/

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Text by Paul Boddy
14th January 2019

BLAINE L REININGER The Blue Sleep

Blessed Are the Noise-Makers

As a cardinal of the European avant-garde and co-founder of TUXEDOMOON, Blaine L Reininger is both schooled and shrouded in mystery.

Born in a straight-laced part of America, the multi-instrumentalist performer and composer has spent most of his career in the alleyways and shadowy dives of Europe’s lowlands. He currently lives in Greece – ground zero for the continent’s myths and a portal for all things Oriental.

The influence can be seen on his new solo album ‘The Blue Sleep’. Strikingly beautiful, it reveals its secrets like a Japanese puzzle box.

A missing part of the solution is how Blaine L Reininger continues to produce material that draws in the listener so intently; each song unlocking another set of feelings in the winding path to the album’s core.

The opening track ‘Public Transformation’ has the languid beauty and unending reverb of William Orbit’s ‘Strange Cargo’ work. A guitar riff loops while synths bubble and soar; Reininger’s trademark violin darting between them at strategic points like a dolphin through Mediterranean waves. He has always had an intuitive feel for electronic music, and starting the album with a dreamy instrumental is welcome statement of intent.

It’s on the title track that the gravel and gravitas of Reininger’s distinctive voice makes its first appearance. ‘The Blue Street’ is a storming piece of experimental pop: three minutes of club-demolishing intensity with a bass line dripping in sweat. There is an echo of TUXEDOMOON’s ‘Dark Companion’ in the way it curls around your hips, but it is over all too soon – perhaps a 12 inch single version with remixes will satisfy the cheque being written to the dancefloor.

The groove gives way to ‘Lost Ballroom’, which leads with exotic rhythms and phrasing. The song chimes with sensations wafted in from across the Bosphorous, but it quickly glows white from the heat of Reininger’s guitar. The feeling bears some comparison to the best bits of Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack for ‘The Last Temptation of Christ’ without the thorns and blood.

‘Dry Food’ is a song for a cat. It had better be. Otherwise, the subject who bites Reininger’s foot and is stroked while eating the dry food of the title is stranger than fiction. “I wonder if we are really friends” he muses, and that’s a question no dog owner would ask.

Things get more playful from there. The San Francisco synthesizer style that TUXEDOMOON and the Ralph Records crowd created comes out on ‘Camminando Qui’, dissolving into a kind of unjazz. The next tracks move between mythical tales spun on currents of processed sound and digital synthesizers (NI Absynth, is that you?) hanging in the air like curtains of light.

The album comes to an end with ‘Odi et Amo’, an ode to love and hate lapping the shore like fragments of amber in the tide. Reininger’s style is far from orthodox, but you can take it as an article of faith that ‘The Blue Sleep’ will comfort those who suffer from the want of accessible but intelligent music.


With thanks to James Nice at Les Disques du Crépuscule

‘The Blue Sleep’ is released on 23rd March 2018 by Les Disques du Crépuscule on CD and download, pre-order from http://www.lesdisquesducrepuscule.com/the_blue_sleep_twi1237cd.html

http://www.mundoblaineo.org/

https://www.facebook.com/Blaine-L-Reininger-157948817590987/

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Text by Simon Helm
15th February 2018

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