Friday, February 24, 2012

Dj Sprinkles - Midtown 120 Blues

Terre Thaemlitz (Dj Sprinkles) is a very well known figure in house and ambient circles, as well as being a producer, record label owner and a public speaker. He is especially known for his work that combines social critique and tackles the themes of gender politics, sexuality, class linguistics, race within the dynamic of his work. His album 'Midtown 120 Blues' stands as a firm and perfect statement to his art and his aesthetic.

"House isn't so much a sound as a situation.

There must be a hundred records with voice-overs asking, "What is house?" The answer is always some greeting card bullshit about "life, love, happiiness...." The House Nation likes to pretend clubs are an oasis from suffering, but suffering is in here with us.

Let's keep sight of the things you're trying to momentarily escape from. After all, it's that larger context that created the house movement and brought you here. House is not universal. House is hyper-specific: East Jersey, Loisaida, West Village, Brooklyn - places that conjure specific beats and sounds. As for the sounds of New York dance floors themselves, today's house classics might have gotten worked into a set once in a while, but the majority of music at every club was major label vocal shit. I don't care what anybody tells you. Besides, New York Deep House may have started out as minimal, mid-tempo instrumentals, but when distributors began demanding easy selling vocal tracks, even the label "Strictly Rhythm" betrayed the promise of it's own name by churning out strictly vocal after strictly vocal. Most Europeans still think "Deep House" means shitty, high energy vocal house.

So what was the New York house sound? House wasn't so much a sound as a situation. The majority of DJ's - DJ's like myself - were nobody's in nowhere clubs: unheard and unpaid. In the words of Sylvester: reality was less "everybody is a star," and more "I who have nothing."

Twenty years later, major distribution gives us Classic House, the same way soundtracks in Vietnam war films gave us Classic Rock. The contexts from which the Deep House sound emerged are forgotten: sexual and gender crises, transgendered sex work, black market hormones, drug and alcohol addiction, loneliness, racism, HIV, ACT-UP, Thompkins Sq. Park, police brutality, queer-bashing, underpayment, unemployment and censorship - all at 120 beats per minute."


" In 1986, at age 18, I left Missouri by train, pulling into Midtown Manhattan's Grand Central Station some 72 hours later. Until that point life had, quite frankly, been miserable, each and every day facing verbal and physical harassment as a queer-fag-pussy-AIDS bait. The climate in New York wasn't really so different. But from within my isolation I saw others isolated like myself. One of the places we met, in our self-containment, was on the dance floor. The nastiest and seediest clubs were located in Midtown. That's mostly where I DJ'ed, at tragic places like Sally's II and Club 59. In the early 1990's, Disney bought 42nd Street, closing the places around which transgendered life revolved for many of us. That "community of isolation" was scattered to other cities, other states, other countries. Isolated, still...."


This is the sound of house music staring at its own reflection in the water, breathing a heavy sigh, and taking the final plunge in, memories rushing while the body drowns. These are the Midtown 120 Blues.

sisters, i don't know what this world is coming to

Thursday, February 16, 2012

This Heat - Made Available (Peel Sessions)

My This Heat obsession continues, I am convinced that they are, indeed, the greatest band of all time. These are the sessions they did for John Peel. Get lost in this world, for there is nothing as singular in nearly all of music as these guys. Plus, 'Not Waving' and 'Fall of Saigon' are just utterly compelling, timeless tunes that will  live on in the unchartered depths of your psyche.

Yes I will go out there
Out there where I know you cannot find me
I held on to the steel rail – too long now
I know I must let go
Here I am in the ocean
Not waving but drowning
Just a nervous reaction
Please don't rescue me

So cold I can't feel my toes
Oh let them go, who needs them?
Circulation stand-still
H2O can freeze you to the marrow
Learn to love the water
It will love you like there's no tomorrow

there is no tomorrow.