1. Nature/2. Dorian/3. Toreador del  Amor/4.Vanity/5. Bombay Tension/6.Body Parts/7.Willie/8.Hassidic Pizza/9.The Storm/10.Triumphant Procession/11.Reflection/12.Back to Nature

Crammed Discs, April 2014

The only rule was the tacit understanding that anything that sounded like anyone else was taboo” (Steven Brown, extract from an interview)

Tuxedomoon_Pink NarcissusPink Narcissus is a soundtrack album for the 1971 homonymous movie. The album which was released by Crammed Discs, is in jazz rhythms and provides a fresh narrative for the movie which was released without the consent of its director. After a persistent effort by the american author Bruce Benderson, the movie was proved to be the work of James Bidgood and not of Andy Warhol as was originally assumed. Despite the movie’s dark and mysterious past, Tuxedomoon’s album has no narcissism as opposed to the movie’s main character.

The basis of this soundtrack

The movie ‘Pink Narcissus’ is a homoerotic one revealing an obsession with the male nude body and an over projection of a rather unnatural connection of this body to nature. The original soundtrack of the film is of minor importance as it is a mix of classical music, film noir music and sounds influenced by eastern music as well as by traditional greek music from Epirus (e.g. clarinets create an atmosphere of undefined, vain and almost annoying experimentation).

Tuxedomoon have focused on and have been inspired by, the psychological essence of this movie. This is proven by the titles of the songs which make direct references to specific scenes in the movie (e.g. ‘Nature’, ‘Toreador del Amor’, ‘Back to Nature’, ‘Vanity’). It is wonderful, remarkable and admirable how Tuxedomoon composed such a nice and emotional music score having as a starting point a movie which is the ultimate example of kitsch from the aesthetics point of view!
James Bidgood, the director of the movie, is an ex drag queen of Manhattan in New York, a gay artist and a multifarious personality which started his career in 1960. His work has all the conflicting and powerful elements of a personality that faced extreme social segregation as a result of his sexual preferences. Experimentation, obsession with nude male body and all the elements that we also see in Derek Jarman’s work, are also present in Bidgood’s work.
Tuxedomoon’s music, observes and grasps all these different tensions in the movie’s plot which are then reflected in the inspiring music score

‘Pink Narcissus’ atmosphere and how it is deconstructed with two songs

Tuxedomoon’s music has been rich with experimentation, improvisation and jazz/soul references. For me, the songs ‘No Tears’, ‘Jinx’, ‘In A Manner Of Speaking’, ‘Basso Pomade (Dogs licking my heart)’ and now ‘Triumphant Procession’, perform some sort of emotional ‘cuts’ in the band’s work, in the sense that, they are the songs that provide outlets to the lyrical side of the band. These songs provoke us, the audience, to make our own emotional cuts in ourselves each time we listen to them.

Pink Narcissus’ distinct characteristic is the conflicting rhythms within each song. The emotional strength that the score of each instrument encapsulates (harmonica, trumpet, bass, clarinet, saxophone, piano, horn, synth), stresses a certain conflict between the various instruments which is difficult to be described and grasped. This is what makes ‘Pink Narcissus’ the most ‘aggressive’ and wild in terms of dynamics, album of Tuxedomoon to date. In the album, ‘Vapour Trails’ a rather meditating atmosphere was created in jazz/soul rhythms. In this album, Pink Narcissus, the violin and the trumpet are being played with dexterity and sensitivity and coexist with agony with the saxophone which plays the primary role in this album. This emotional tension is reduced in ‘Vanity’, continues in ‘Bombay Tension’ only to be renewed in the darker ‘Willie’ where the electric guitar antagonises the percussion, the saxophone, the trumpet and the horn. All this energy reaches a climax in ‘The Storm’ which is a song that leaves me with the impression that it is a contemporary cover version of the ‘Rite of Spring’ by Stravinsky.

Toreador del Amor’ refers to a specific scene of the movie in which the main character, dressed as a toreador tames, initially, his own idol on the mirror. At the next scene he is glorified by an unknown crowd just before he confronts his lover which happens to be a replica, albeit aesthetically, of James Dean in ‘Rebel Without A Cause’.

The arrangement seems to have been done in such a way so that each instrument’s role and emotional energy is stressed. Even though at times there is a feeling that instruments are contradicting each other, none of them loses its integrity within each piece and their accumulating energy  is what defines the character of each song . All this matters until ‘Triumphant Procession’ starts. This is the song that materializes the emotional outbreak of this album and is played on repeat in my playlist whenever I listen to this album. Having a melody as welcoming as a hug, this song nullifies all my internal tensions just before bringing them all back more intensely after 1′.14″. This is the song that makes me, as only music can, empty my mind and express anything I feel spontaneously without thinking about the space, taking a distance from myself for 4′ of redemption until the last note leaves me with a quick heart beating of the eagerness to listen to it again… Until this point, it was obvious to me that the experimentation that preceded in the album would somewhere reach a climax. I was justified at the very moment that I began thinking that I was overreacting. With the introductory notes of ‘Triumphant Procession’ it was proven that all the preceding songs were just preparing the atmosphere for this song and its emotional outbreak.

This album finishes as it started, with the theme of the first song ‘Nature’.As if wanting to sum up, the song ‘Reflection’ at its end breaks the feeling that ‘Triumphant Procession’ has caused. This symbolizes the curse of Narcissus who, as in the movie, can’t stand his own reflection in the mirror that glorified him and breaks it. With ‘Back to Nature’ the album closes the time slot that opened so that the pink narcissus could flourish.

Pink Narcissus can be purchased by following this link and accessing the band’s official online shop: http://www.tuxedomoon.co/

Tuxedomoon will perform live at The Garage in London on December 18th.Tickets can be purchased from here: https://www.stargreen.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=Tuxedomoon


Blaue Rosenbox

Spread the word by sharing this