Tuxedomoon’s “Ninotchka” (TMR 29)

Getting to the bottom of a mysterious record sleeve

J.P. Williams
2 min readMar 26, 2023
The Tub by Edgar Degas (1886). Public domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

“Why is she bathing?” asks text on the front cover of an old single by Tuxedomoon. The single is “Ninotchka” (Les Disques du Crépuscule, 1982) and the answer to the question is on the back: “Because she’s just danced a ballet scored by Maurice Béjart.” In case that doesn’t explain everything, further text summarizing the career of Greto Garbo both clarifies and obscures. Thanks to The New York Times, I’ve discovered that “Ninotchka” is from the experimental synth band’s soundtrack for the ballet The Divine, about a girl who fantasizes about the famed Swedish actress and her various roles: Mata Hari, Camille, Ninotchka . . . The track sounds like a bunch of drunk ghosts singing a Russian folk song to accordion. B-side “Again” mixes a sound somewhere between bubbles and crickets with sloppy spoken word, bass, sax and pipe organ. The appeal may be obvious to lovers of the avant-garde, but others will get more enjoyment out of puzzling over the sleeve.

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J.P. Williams

I write about the intersection of arts and ideas. Maybe some short book reviews for a while.