|"Holy Wars": TM's most mature album also happens to be their best-seller, and is released all around the world. Recorded in 1985 while the band are at the peak of their popularity in Europe. Some of the most poignant and moving songs ("Some Guys", "In a Manner of Speaking", "Bonjour Tristesse", "Holy Wars"), and new instrumental colours: Blaine Reininger has left the band, and is replaced by Dutch trumpet and harmonica player Luc van Lieshout. Among other subjects, the lyrics are about wandering in the new European megapolis: Wim Wenders recognizes some of his own obsessions, and uses "Some Guys" in the opening scenes of "The Sky Above Berlin".
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.
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.