Winston Tong Like the Others

Chinese born and American bred performance artist Winston Tong is probably best known for leading the overtly arty group Tuxedomoon through their late ’70s to mid-’80s heyday. This long lost and sought after solo album — Tong’s second — originally appeared in 1983 as a deluxe cassette and book package and was referred to at the time as "tone poetry.” In retrospect, the sung-spoken prose and piano-led musical accompaniment that dominate Like the Others sounds a lot like another romantically dismal and critically lauded act: Tindersticks. The opening title track is a beautiful four-minute cut where Tong riffs off late-night existential poetry like a bedraggled lounge singer who’s down on his luck and a little drunk with self-sympathy. Next is the 24-minute album centrepiece, "In a White Room,” where two voices (ego and id) freely associate with each other over consistently engaging piano scaling. Amazingly, it never drags or gets boring. The cover medley "Going Out of My Head/For Your Love” adds percussion, synth, viola and other people’s voices to drastically rearrange the originals into something akin to a mind slowly going mad. This reissue adds a few great bonus tracks in a French version of the title track, an intriguing self-recorded interview and the 1978 William Burroughs-inspired sound collage "Wild Boys.” This is classic ’80s conceptual underground innovation at its very finest. (LTM)