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The Darling Buds of May - 2009 So Far
Midtown 120 Blues
- Cameron Eeles

In MNML SSGS (Australia), Sunday May 17 2009.


Can you believe that the year is already over a third done? It feels like only a few weeks ago we were just getting 2009 underway. An even more frightening thought - in about six weeks from now we'll be standing at the year's halfway mark. So before those darling buds of May get beaten down by the summer sun, and too much more of the year slides away from me, I thought this would be a good time to cast an eye over what's come out this year so far, and pick out a few releases that have really struck a chord with me.

It's a little strange for me to think of DJ Sprinkles' 'Midtown 120 Blues' as a 2009 release - it dropped internationally in January, but I picked it up in a Tokyo record store in August last year as Mule often releases its records in Japan quite a few months before the rest of the world. I can't help but feel it was a mistake of Mule to hold off the international release in the case of this album - in many ways 'Midtown 120 Blues' can be read as a direct response from Terre Thaemlitz on the deep house revival of 2007/2008, and a 2008 release would have made the international appearance of the album extremely timely. (I saw Thaemlitz perform a live set of much of this material in April of 2008, so it's clear that he'd been crafting his response to the deep house revival for a while.)

Of course, the timing of the release doesn't change the quality of the album a jot - and the quality is very high indeed. Thaemlitz serves up well over an hour of beautifully lush deep house (almost entirely instrumental, I might add - the only vocals are a handful of monologues and looped vocal samples), shot through with twinges of melancholy and sadness. If you care to read more of my ravings about this album you can read a review I did, but to save you time I'll repeat here the final paragraph of that review:

    'Midtown 120 Blues' is an incredibly deep album - not just in terms of the "deepness" of the house on offer, but emotionally and intellectually so, as Thaemlitz maps out the sound in a deeply personal way. A meditation on the "meaning" of house, a critique of the recent deep house revival, an exploration of one man's personal relationship with the sound - 'Midtown 120 Blues' is all of these things, not to mention being some of the best deep house you'll hear in a very long time.

Without a doubt, this is absolutely one of my favourite albums of the (this? last?) year, and one that I hope won't be forgotten by the year's end.

(By the by, long-time ssg readers are probably no doubt well aware of our fondness for Terre Thaemlitz. However, those who are either new to the blog or Thaemlitz may want to check out a lengthy interview fellow ssg Pete did with Thaemlitz back in March of 2008 that is both revealing and a great read. Pete also recently did a review of 'Dead Stock Archive', for those interested in acquiring absolutely everything Thaemlitz has ever done.)