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Terre Thaemlitz - Lovebomb

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Artist: Terre Thaemlitz

Album: Lovebomb

Label: Mille Plateaux

Review date: Nov. 25, 2003

A Terre Thaemlitz release is not so much a music CD to experienced passively as a sonic discourse where he reflects on topics both profound and mundane. Typically, Thaemlitz focuses on issues of gender and sexuality such as marginalization of transgendered persons in Couture Cosmetique, commodification of the pink economy in Love for Sale, and Man’s engendered relationship to post industrial technologies and homoerotic overtones in the music of Kraftwerk in Die Roboter Rubato. This is why a Thaemlitz release comes with heavily annotated liner notes written in a dry academic style. Both the music and liner notes work cohesively to compel the listener to be aware of what s/he is listening to.

Lovebomb is no exception and happens to be his most thematically accessible work to date. Complete with beautiful liner notes with the customary top-heavy text, Lovebomb is about the destruction caused by humanity towards each other in the name of that deceptively self evident emotion called love. By love, Thaemlitz refers to all of its myriad forms, including love of one’s creed, religion or country, domestic love, and the universal love blared from speakers in dance clubs. Conversely, Thaemlitz holds the proverbial mirror to each form to reveal those who murder, beat their spouse and exploit his/her community in the name of ‘love’. To get his points across on Lovebomb, Thaemlitz utilizes a variety of sound sources such as pop ballads, archived news footage, and personal family and street recordings. These raw materials are processed into hauntingly beautiful electroacoustic drones interspersed with shimmering piano melodies, instrumental fragments and sudden jarring shifts in gain to compel the listener to be fully aware of the recording.

Lovebomb could be considered unfocused as a discourse; the topics covered include everything from South African apartheid in “Apartheid”, lynching of African Americans during times of slavery in “Sintesi Musicale Del Linciaggio Futurista”, ’60s era race riots in “SD II” and “SD I”, domestic disputes, appeals for help from Iron Curtain-era Czechoslovakia in “Signal Jamming Propaganda” as well as testimonials from Japanese post-nuclear holocaust victims in “Ai No Bakudan”. Despite the variety in content, or perhaps because of it, Lovebomb is an emotionally intense listening experience, particularly more so for listeners who may have had an amorous relationship gone wrong. Perhaps the listener might even question his/her notions of love to determine whether it is the real thing or just a form of profound selfishness.

Lovebomb is definitely one of Terre Thaemlitz’s best and most challenging works and is a release that cannot be listened to passively. Then again, Thaemlitz has always been about “tripping-in” rather than “tripping-out.”

By I Khider

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