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Music for Vagabonds - The Tuxedomoon Chronicles [Paperback]

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Item Number 266747  
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Item description for Music for Vagabonds - The Tuxedomoon Chronicles by Isabelle Corbisier...

Tuxedomoon is a group of musicians and performers - whose main members are: Blaine Reininger, Steven Brown, Peter Principle, Winston Tong, Luc van Lieshout and Bruce Geduldig - that was formed in San Francisco in 1977. They started out as the musical backdrop of the Angels Of Light, i.e. a gender-fuck free theater group, which was itself an offshoot of the (in)famous Cockettes, founded by the legendary Hibiscus (aka New York actor George Harris) in the late sixties. When the local version of punk rock broke loose, Tuxedomoon, originally a rather psychedelic/hippie venture, embraced that new energy and became one of the most revered bands of the Bay Area. They wrote the celebrated "No Tears" single, still a classic on the electro/post-punk/techno scene. Over the years they have been described in a myriad of ways: "Post-punk", "early techno", "avant-garde", "music for non-existent films", "cybergypsy", "lyrical and romantic", "a brilliant fusion between new wave's rigidity, classical emphase and traditional melancholy", "punk jazz", "a musical Tower of Babel", "equal parts cabaret, jazz, rock and contemporary chamber music", "a distinctly European sound but tempered by a facetiously sinister wit", "a kaleidoscope of many influences, but disposing of them with the same nonchalant ease as a snake shedding its old skin." Journalists have never been short of devising labels to describe Tuxedomoon's music, yet none of these ever seemed completely satisfactory. Tuxedomoon's identity is as elusive as their geographical location. In 1981, they fled Ronald Reagan's America and established themselves in Brussels, from where they started an endless exploration of Europe. They toured improbable little towns as well as big cities, released inspired records and initiated many collaborations. Tuxedomoon attracted followers and gained cult status, never ceasing their quest for a permanently elusive and lost "home," - some other America or the quaint Europe of their fantasies. Over time the certainty of finding that destination disappeared, but the will to travel remained. The members of Tuxedomoon are the musical vagabonds of our times of nomadism. From 2001 onwards, the author of this book found herself sucked into Tuxedomoon's spiral of vagrancy and traveled the world to meet the actors in this ongoing 30-year-old story. All of the interviews presented within the pages of her book form the chronicles of a unique group of wandering performers. The book features many black & white photographs from the early days until now.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   476
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.5" Width: 6.7" Height: 1.1"
Weight:   1.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 14, 2008
Publisher   OpenMute
ISBN  1906496080  
ISBN13  9781906496081  

Availability  123 units.
Availability accurate as of May 29, 2017 12:55.
Usually ships within one to two business days from La Vergne, TN.
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More About Isabelle Corbisier

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Reviews - What do customers think about Music for Vagabonds - The Tuxedomoon Chronicles?

Eyewitness Testimony  Jul 9, 2008
To hold in my hand this beautiful book is to hold Pandora's box. I lift the lid. I take a peek. And what I see inside this wonderfully designed object- bound as a book and yet radiating out with a strange collage-like power, are spokes to other times, other states of consciousness and people I have known. And loved. Worked with. And lost.

I was present and highly visible in the era when Tuxedomoon came into being. I ran parallel to them as a poet, as one of the Angels of Light and as one largely responsible for Victoria Lowe moving to California. In fact, she lived with me when she moved into San Francisco. I also got to see the strange confluence of talents drawn to each other as she met Steven Brown (also in the Angels) and Winston Tong. They performed in small shows the Angels did and, for a brief period, there was a sense that Tuxedomoon was growing out of the Angels of Light just as the Angels had been birthed from their own prior incarnation: the Cockettes, a glitter drag queen theater that perished in late 1972. Unlike many organic transformations, however, I don't recall any sense of breaking away but, rather, a 'metamorphosis into'. Perhaps this is because the fable-oriented and magical Angels, outrageous and fabulous as we were, fused many classical but familiar elements of theater: masks, puppets, stage sets, costumes, songs, mime and a diverse range of formal dance forms: Chinese, Indian, Balinese and Western jazz, tap, ballet, tango, etc.

Tuxedomoon, however, embarked on a mysterious journey of its own: something poetically yet radically different. In fact, it was this 'differentness' that was so captivating and alluring. It was essentially un-decorative and seductive, not sentimental in the least- austere and self-assured rather than deliberately pleasing. And in that strange moment of the mid-1970s when the hippie and glitter ages were passing into history with their referential nods to Old Broadway, Vaudeville, Burlesque and a bit of Guignol, Tuxedomoon surfaces as an enchanting alternative to the hard-edged and gritty Punk rock stance.

For we who lived in that time, it's almost impossible to recollect, let alone articulate, the multi-dimensional quality of existence. Life was aquatic. Free-form. There was a sense of listlessness and drift as the certainties of the counterculture forged in the Civil Rights and Anti-war movements of the 1960s hit the doldrums in the aftermath of Nixon's resignation; the end of America's tragic misadventure in Vietnam; the slow acknowledgment that San Francisco was not immune from the crippling economic effects of the Arab Oil embargo of 1973-1974 and that even Nixon's resignation under threat of imminent impeachment had not brought about a renaissance or cleansing for which we'd all hoped so desperately.

A certain oppositional certainty had been lost when the Angels hit our political, outrageous and socially pointed zenith in 1975 with 'Paris Sites Under the Bourgeois Sea," (a free show which I scripted, and which was staged at the SF Museum of Art) where the greatest illustration of totemic and imperious bearded drag queens used to symbolize Social Order and the ancienne regime fell to an invasion of giant rats and the Plague. No one could have known it at the time that we were not paying homage to Anotin Artuad, as we believed, but announcing the advent of the New Black Death which would lay waste to our shining city, and the culture of liberation that we had forged at such great personal and individual risk and, yet, with such pride and love.

It was out of this strangely unknowable, ill defined time that Tuxedomoon arose. Isabelle Corbisier captures it beautifully in her book, She writes magnificently in English (her second language), and in some miracle of cosmic osmosis or sympathetic magic, the fact that she was not here and not on the scene has given her just enough creative distance to observe brilliantly and capture what I wonder if anyone closer in towards the center could have pinned down so accurately. Not only is her prose clear, her thoughts are perfectly arranged- a tribute to the organization of a legal mind trained and disciplined to a fine polish. A mysterious order exists in this book, one complemented by the design itself, which is also her creation. The book is an object. Small side bars and inserts, the way photos are displayed, the collage like elements and, concurrently, the sense of a visible film-script caught on paper all contribute to a book that, itself, is a work of art even as it celebrates the vagabonds and slightly remote poetic souls who came together and created a unique and compelling group. I salute this book as one who, having been present at Tuxedomoon's inception and as part of the subculture from whence it sprang, knows what is real, or not real, honestly representative (or not) from that era.

This book is true to the time, true to the artists and, in its very presence, an accurate reflection of the aesthetic that avoided the too easy postures of Punk, circumvented the elaborate but subject-oriented dreamworld of the Angels of Light and vaulted into another dimension. I wish I could explain that world to the readers of this piece. The truth is: I can't. I perceived Tuxedomoon, and some of its members (especially Victoria Lowe, whom I loved very much, and the equally beautiful Steven Brown, whom I liked and respected) from my side of a smoky glass. We could not inhabit the same worlds and be true to both. Being true, each sphere was its own universe.

Fortunately, I don't have to struggle for the words or attempt to usher the uninitiated into Tuxedomoon. Isabelle Corbisier has done it all for the fortunate souls who go on the journey with her. As one from that era, and from that world, I can say that it is next-to-impossible for anyone to do what she has done: provide a compass and enough clear markers to serve as guideposts to illuminate a sphere that was mysterious yet compellingly binding. This book and the consciousness that informs it represents an amazing tour de force. My congratulations.

Adrian Brooks
(former Angel of Light and author of 'Flights of Angels')
Extremely entertaining, though not without a fair share of flaws  Jul 8, 2008
As an artifact documenting the group and their history, this most assuredly rates 5 full stars. The chances of there ever being something else even remotely close to this exhaustive about the group can pretty safely be put at slim to none.

Having said that, you should know what you're getting. This should be looked at as more of a rambling scrapbook than a strict "bio" type book. (Although lest that give the wrong impression, while there are many pictures, this is a *very* text heavy item! The majority of the book has additional info and annotations running down the side of each page.)

As a readable entity, though - as in, you start at the beginning and work your way to the end - it is in many ways a bit of a trainwreck (though a charming one, I hasten to add.) I found it easiest to digest by finding a certain section, reading that part, taking a break, then going back to find another. While the book does proceed in a chronological order, there is a tendency to sometimes veer off that path a bit. (Though again to be fair, sometimes this is noted in advance - but not always.) And in any case, if you're already a fan (which presumably anybody who would buy this is!), reading it in a precise chronological order is not necessarily such an important thing. (If you're like me, you know you'll want to go straight to your favorite bits/periods, anyway!)

The author (of whom there is no real info about given anywhere in the book) is quite obviously not a native English speaker. While by no means a sin, this does lead to some rather perplexing (and usually humorous) passages. Also, this reviewer found it a touch disturbing that, while the majority of the facts about the group, especially in their earliest days, were heretofore unknown to me, a few of the things that I *did* know about them and their activities were not mentioned accurately (or sometimes at all). This could suggest a lack of proper research, though again, with the wealth of information that is provided here, one can easily forgive the occasional error or omission.

So - don't go in expecting the most readable tome you've ever come across. But if the idea of a truly warts and all, minutiae-filled catalogue of the band's activities and history - and for that matter, a general impression of the times that surrounded them - sounds good to you, do not hesitate to grab this. You'll be most pleased in the end.

The Tuxedomoon Bible  Jul 5, 2008
This book is almost as thick as the Bible. Most questions and facts about anyone involved with Tuxedomoon from the early days until now are answered.
I felt the book to be honest in approach. Nothing seemed to be held back for the sake of vanity. A good read for any Tuxedomoon fan.
Exhaustive, perfect  Jun 15, 2008
For fans of Tuxedomoon and those with an interest in the group, this exhaustive biography is perfect. What Ms. Corbisier has done with this book is extraordinary. Over years of interviews she has compiled a unique history of one of music's unique voices. It is the best companion in music biography that I have yet to see. Even if the reader has just a passing curiosity in the band, I highly recommend getting this book. Ms. Corbisier's prose is easy to read, the pictures are lovely, the side comments are fantastic. Highly recommended.
Music For Vagabonds - The Tuxedo Moon Chronicles by Isabelle Corbisier  May 1, 2008
Tuxedomoon is an hybrid of a band that persevered and triumphed against all odds. Their score for choreographer Maurice Bejart's Greta Garbo inspired ballet Divine, thrust the band into the international spotlight.
Prior to that they had long inhabited the dark corners of the continents through tireless navigation of the nightclubs and performance art venues of the US and then as expatriates in Europe. So to an early fan like myself it was sweet to bear witness to the arc of success of these prolific recording artists as they developed a huge following in Europe even before their work with Bejart.
Isabelle Corbisier's book charts this arc of success with élan and devotion. Through story telling interwoven with gritty oral interviews and music reviews, Corbisier adeptly deconstructs the convergences of the pertinent movements of the times; new wave, no wave, goth, dada, anarchist, etc.
This is a must read for anyone intrigued by the petri-dish that was punk and new wave in the 70's and 80's. That Tuxedomoon is still a poignant and working band today in 2008 which the book takes us through, is a testament to the old saying that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. - Daniel Nicoletta

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