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Bombs Away
Terre Thaemlitz
- Sam Lee

In Time Off (Australia), June 15 2004.


Love and bomb - two words loaded with memory, implication and reaction. They're also two words that have taken on an even greater meaning in light of political trends in the later half of the 20th century.

These two words are also central to transgender electronic composer Terre Thaemlitz, who has united them and used their combination as a summary of his assessment of post-modern existence. Filtering through teh washy nature of 'being' at the beginning of a new century, Thaemlitz's new record is a reflective listen, at times braodly applicable, while at other moments deeply personal.

"The album is bilingual English/Japanese," Thaemlitz recounts from his home in Tokyo. "Lovebomb is both the English album title and the English title track. Since the theme of the album is how societies use 'love' as a social mechanism to enact and justify violence, I wanted a word that not only posited the conventionally assumed opposition between love and violence but actually merged the two - hopefully with a little humor."

"The English title track, 'Lovebomb,' deals with personal experiences of fag-bashing and witnessing the pleasure people took in doing such things."

And what of the Japanese title? What does it explore?

"The Japanese title, Ai No Bakudan, is a rather direct translation of Lovebomb, but the theme of the Japanese title track is different from that of the English title track. 'Ai No Bakudan' deals with the way societies brutalize 'victims.' In particular, the track deals with the aftermath of the atomic blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, using recordings of voices from two old survivors describing what they saw on those days as children. To compound the horrors of the bombings, the survivors were then subjected to decades of ostracisation and discrimination by other Japanese, denied medical care and work. But, as time goes on and the last remaining survivors die, history is re-written so that everyone in Japan and the world shares and endless sympathy and love for them, erasing the reality of their prolonged abuses."

This kind of critical thought, combined with composition, has been at the centre of Thaemlitz's work for well over a decade.

One other theme he places added importance on is the notion of self-critique and the role it plays in identity and the understanding we have of ourselves.

"Self-critique, and the music industry's disdain for self-critique by pitting producers against journalists, is definitely a majojr part of my work. The uber-theme of most all of my productions is the relationship between identity politics and the music marketplace - the way in which we consume music to generate our identities. I produce music as a consumer regurgitating what I have absorbed - not as a trained musician.

"Of course, many of my projects then go into specific types of identities, such as transgenderism, queer pan-sexuality, ethnicity, race, economic class... most importantly, how all of these identities collide inside us, making us contradict ourselves on a daily basis."

Terre Thaemlitz performs Lovebomb at Fabrique in the Spark Bar, Brisbane Powerhouse Saturday Jun 12 (9:30pm).