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All Music Guide:
New York-based composer Terre Thaemlitz is one of only a handful of significant American artists working in the new ambient vein. He's released the bulk of his material through the Instinct Ambient label, but has also issued tracks (under his own name and as Chugga) on his own Comatonse label and through others. Although Thaemlitz's entre into electronic came in a somewhat traditional fashion -- as a house DJ -- his explorations in electronic abstraction have been anything but, focusing on themes of abjection, alienation, fracture, and contradiction in his music. Thaemlitz's recorded work, collected on albums such as Tranquilizer and Soil, is closer in tone to ambient-leaning industrialists such as B. Lustmord, Carl Stone, and (some) Merzbow, as well as "deep listening" composers such as Pauline Oliveros and Robert Rich. He's also recorded with Bill Laswell, releasing Web in 1995, and done remix work for Interpieces Organization and the Golden Palaminos, among others.
Born in Minnesota and raised in Missouri, Thaemlitz moved to New York in the mid-'80s to pursue art scholarship at Cooper Union. Soon distracted by the growing New York house scene, he began DJing at drag balls and benefits, leading to an Underground Grammy for best DJ in 1991. Although primarly a dancefloor DJ, Thaemlitz's insistence upon integrating house music's more simplistic monotony with challenging, complicated breaks and references earned him an uneasy relationship with club promoters looking for DJs whose only commitment was the 4/4 beat. Retiring from club DJing in the early '90s (although he continues to spin experimental electronic music at art galleries, one-offs, and in other marginal contexts), Thaemlitz began making his own tracks, beginning with house but quickly moving into genre defying fusions of funk, soul, disco, and musique concrete, and eventually settling into experimental ambient. One of his earliest works, "Raw from a Straw," in addition to limited release through his own Comatonse label, appeared on an early ambient compilation on Instinct, and earned him an almost instant reputation. He's since fortified that with a pair of full-length releases remarkably free of many of the cliched conventions of club-drived ambient. He continues to support new talent through Comatonse, and in 1999 returned with Replicas Rubato. Interstices, a thirty-one track release with no song titles, followed a year later.
Terre Thaemlitz is a musician, public speaker, and owner of the Comatonse Recordings record label. Her work critically combines themes of identity politics - including gender, sexuality, class, linguistics, ethnicity and race - with an ongoing critique of the socio-economics of commercial media production. This diversity of themes is matched by Thaemlitz' wide range of production styles, which include electroacoustic computer music, club-oriented deep house, digital jazz, ambient, and computer-composed neo-expressionist piano solos. Graphic design, photography, illustration, text and video also play a part in Thaemlitz' projects.
As a speaker and educator on issues of non-essentialist transgenderism and pansexual Queer sexuality, Thaemlitz has participated in panel discussions throughout Europe and Japan, as well as held numerous cross-cultural sensitivity workshops at Tokyo's Uplink Factory, near her current residence in Kawasaki, Japan.
Terre Thaemlitz's Soil and Tranquilizer releases in the early and mid-1990s served to introduce a "political" form of ambient music, continued in later releases such as Couture Cosmetique and Means from an End, which aim to recast the usually passive artist-listener-environment equation. Thaemlitz' colleagues in the political ambient music front include the sound activist group Ultra-red. Following their remixes of Thaemlitz' Still Life with Numerical Analysis in 1998, Ultra-red joined Thaemlitz on the German label Mille Plateaux for their first two albums; Second Nature: An Electroacoustic Pastoral (1999) and Structural Adjustments (2000).
Filmographyffwd_mag (DVD + Magazine)
Italy: .::invernomuto::., 2005, Issue 3. Audio and photography.Lovebomb / Ai No Bakudan (Full-length film/music videos)
Written, directed, filmed and edited by Terre Thaemlitz. Originally released on VHS (Japan: Comatonse Recordings, 2003, V.002). In English and Japanese. Japan: Comatonse Recordings, 2005/2003, D.001.NTSC | D.001.PAL.Interstices (Short film/music videos)
Written, directed, filmed and edited by Terre Thaemlitz. Commissioned by Lovebytes and funded by the National Arts Council of England. Released with "Silent Passability" on DVD (Japan: Comatonse Recordings, 2005, D.000.NTSC). Originally released on VHS (Japan: Comatonse Recordings, 2001, V.001) and DVD ("Volatile Media," UK: Lovebytes, 2002, DSP2). Japan: Comatonse Recordings, 2005/2001, D.000.NTSC.Silent Passability (Ride to the Countryside) (Music video)
Written, directed, filmed and edited by Terre Thaemlitz. Released with "Interstices" on DVD (Japan: Comatonse Recordings, 2005, D.000.NTSC). Originally released on VHS (US: Comatonse Recordings, 1997, V.000). Japan: Comatonse Recordings, 2005/1997, D.000.NTSC.Modulations (documentary)
Directed by Iara Lee, produced by George Gund III, (US: Caipirinha Productions, 1998). Interview.Neue Kraft, Neues Werk (Transcodeur Express) (documentary)
Directed by Ninon Liotet and Olivier Schulbaum, (Germany: ZDF 2002). Interview and music.Synthetic Pleasures (documentary)
Directed by Iara Lee, produced by George Gund, (US: Caipirinha Productions, 1995). Three tracks featured on soundtrack. Sound engineering for trailer.