Thomas Meinecke is a German writer, house music afficionado and founding member of German avant-garde/post-punk outfit F.S.K. His most recent book, Analog (Verbrecher Verlag), is a collection of essays he wrote for Groove Magazine between 2007 and 2013. He lives in southern Bavaria with his wife, the artist and fellow F.S.K. member Michaela Melián. In this piece from our Fall, 2013 issue of Electronic Beats Magazine, he considers the collection of remixes by Terre Thaemlitz’s alter ego.
Terre Thaemlitz is an artist of many incarnations, although the core message of her body of work circles around mutual topics: transgender issues, queer rights and the marginalization of the sexually dissident. In order to approach her art it’s worth distinguishing between the many aliases she uses. He or she? Under his main name, Terre appears as a rather masculine-coded being with a “discursive” approach to musical work, and that was how I met him—he uses both pronouns—at a congress about feminism in Zurich’s Rote Fabrik a good ten years ago. We both were invited as panelists and sat on stage together as biological males confessing to a political attitude of feminism, after which he DJ’d as Sprinkles in women’s clothing. Around the same time, we were also both invited to take part as panelists at another congress, this time in Frankfurt on communism, after which Terre performed a set of sonically scratched-up tracks that didn’t focus on rhythm or danceability but instead used sound as an element of irritation, an agitation toward a bigger narrative in which he tackled politically charged topics. These “socio-analytical compositions” engaged me to such a degree that the whole experience ended up in the closing scene of my novel Musik.
By way of contrast Thaemlitz’s queer DJ Sprinkles persona earned her spurs in the New York house scene of the late eighties and early nineties. She’s one among few who can give a true insider’s view of the context from which New York deep house emerged: a scene of lost souls in shady Midtown Manhattan bars that had to deal with stigmatization and police brutality, black-market hormones, diseases and suffering. In this regard the Kami-Sakunobe House Explosion record from 2006 is outstanding: a record that, on the surface, is a sequence of danceable tracks and enjoyable to everyone with a soft spot for connoisseur house. Yet listen actively and the chorus of marginalized voices, interspersed throughout, reveals the ingenious concept behind it.
This brings us to Queerifications & Ruins, a collection of remixes DJ Sprinkles has made during the last three years, which operates in a similar area of conflict. We hear remixes of music from artists all over the world: France (Hardrock Striker), Lithuania (Corbie), Scotland (Marco Bernardi), Japan (Oh, Yoko), Italy (Hard Ton), USA (Ducktails, Area), Berlin (June), and the list goes on. What’s remarkable throughout is the way she imposes her very own style on almost any source material, giving the sense that these two and a half hours could have been made out of one piece. And while Queerifications is a playful record, there’s a sense of respect and almost tragic momentum; in fact, there are moments on the record that almost possess the characteristics of ambient in their careful avoidance of musical peaks. Perhaps this is why it’s so intoxicating? You can hear that she’s sat at a piano and embellished these tracks, and it’s this musicality that I find thrilling: the ability to confidently add new ideas to the originals or to strip back when required. Indeed, I found these re-imagined pieces of music so congruent and striking that I felt no need or desire to hear the originals.
However, the most striking aspect of Queerifications & Ruins is that I instantly hear DJ Sprinkles’ very own language within it—a language that tells me about the heyday of New York and New Jersey deep house music; the early nineties; vogueing; ballrooms in Spanish Harlem; a deconstruction of social identities. There’s a real sense that this is where the music comes from and the political and sexual brisance is imminent in every track. It’s thrilling to see somebody who keeps on remembering this part of club culture’s past—its long relationship with struggle—by bringing the political and the dancefloor back together in such a unique and fascinating way. This is real history that you can dance to. ~
This text first appeared first in Electronic Beats Magazine N° 35 (3, 2013). Read the full issue on issuu.com or in the embed below.
Published January 15, 2014. Words by Michael Lutz.