© t thaemlitz/comatonse recordings
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In "Rhythm & Blouse", in XTRA!, March 33, 1999, No. 375.
Listening to the title track of Love For Sale: Taking Stock In Our Pride is a bit like gazing into the potential future of Toronto's Pride celebrations. US electro-acoustic composer/theorist Terre Thaemlitz's startlingly articulate composite of sound bytes, culled from e media reportage of last year's San Francisco Pride parade, is akin to an early morning splash of cold water to the face - alerting and crystal clear.
Call it the commodification of queer identity if you prefer, but there's a price tag on our collective gay and lesbian butt - and Thaemlitz is one of a growing number of queer arts activists who is unwilling to sell out, regardless of the profit margin.
This isn't a simple case of raging hard-on anti-assimilationism. Thaemlitz mixes drag culture, AIDS awareness, socio-cultural politicking and vibrantly enthralling music tooexpress his ideas.
Thaemlitz works in a number of sound genres - from esoteric sound-scaping to luxuriously easy-listening techno house (self-dubbed as "fagjazz"). On the Love For Sale album, his focus is on ambient electronics.
In this case, Thaemlitz handles sound in a manner that is analogous to the general queer experience - a technique he describes as "placing source materials through dislocating process after dislocating process." The results, however, are anything but straight-acting, straight-sounding.
Imagine a sound struggling to retain its own identity inthe face of a gigantic social compressor intent on flattening all the inherent uniqueness from the sound's waveform. Suppressed with filters and other studio/computer gadgetry, Thaemlitz's source sounds still manage to surface - altered but nonetheless intriguing.
Had enough metaphor yet?
If a brief stroll through the Church-Wellesley district is starting to feel more and more like Smurf Forest meets Fairview Mall, then an exploration of Thaemlitz's sound-politics is in order. if not, then get yer sweet little sale-priced tuch back to m woods for some branding - beer branding, that is.