Tuxedomoon, Holy Wars

John Darnielle

By John Darnielle

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

The advantage to being truly and sincerely weird is that it makes you timeless. Listen to Tuxedomoon's Holy Wars: Who made this? When? Why? The content gives few clues; the album itself is much more interested in asking questions than in answering them. What've we got, after the whole bizarre experience has passed: harmonicas on the moon, some echoing slap-bass, a trumpet keening dolefully, hissing keyboards everywhere and strange up-in-the-footlights crooning evoking a mood of agitated desperation. It leaves an icy, metallic taste in your mouth. You know how people are always telling you, "You've never heard anything like it?" In the case of Tuxedomoon, the claim comes with a guarantee.

Art rock at its most singular.

The band, as it turns out, recorded for Ralph Records, a label owned and operated by the Residents, whose sole interest lay in making records that defied categorization. Holy Wars, which smashes jazz impulses up against art-damaged cabaret leanings, achieving an almost contemplative state of oddity. Repeated listenings reveal a band perversely delighted with its own loneliness. "Wish I was with the ancient Egyptians," sings their nameless vocalist; one rather sees his point.