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Album: Tuxedomoon

Cabin in the Sky, CRAMMED DISCS

A product of the San Francisco avant-garde new-wave scene of the late Seventies, Tuxedomoon released several albums of elegant, enigmatic chamber-pop through the Eighties, relocating to art-rock-friendly Europe before splitting up the following decade. Geographical diversity made prospects of a reunion unlikely, with the band members flung as far apart as New York, Brussels, Mexico and Greece, but against all expectations, Cabin in the Sky finds them back together again, arguably more potent than ever. Using piano, bass, violin, clarinet and trumpet, with occasional jazz guitar or harmonica, they've crystallised a sound that's equal parts cabaret, jazz, rock, and contemporary chamber music - a distinctly European sound (some tracks are even sung in Italian and French), but tempered by a facetiously sinister wit. "You women, girls, you light up my world," leers the protagonist of "Baron Brown", "See this lecherous old goat in a leather overcoat/ The only thing is that/ I want to wear you like a hat." They evoke a diverse range of moods: the tropical fantasia of "Misty Blue", the Milesian "Cagli Five-O", the tribal "Luther Blisset", the tentative "La Piu Bella Reprise", in which lachrymose violin and stoic piano underscore an old Italian's lament. But somehow, it all seems satisfyingly of a piece.