10 years before Midtown 120 Blues captured hearts and blew minds, Terre Thaemlitz was already making and self-releasing house music under a variety of guises. Unlike the critically adored album, however, most of these releases slid below the radar of most house fans — not least because they lacked the distribution Mule Musiq releases enjoy. With many more ears now tuned into her particular variety of lush, political house, Thaemlitz has released the Masturjakor single with Mule and the B2B/Hush Now 12″ for Parisian label Skylax. Yet this latest record is more of long desired reissue of sorts than an all new release. Culled from his 2006 Routes Not Roots album as Kami-Sakunobe House Explosion K-S.H.E (“B2B”) and the digital-only A Silence Broken compilation (“Hush Now”), it hosts two of Thaemlitz’s most potent and timely dance floor tracks on vinyl together for the first time.
Given that both tracks were originally released in 2006, Thaemlitz’s choice of accouterments and arrangements prove rather prescient of today’s sonic landscape. On “B2B,” K-S.H.E. builds a maze of perfectly positioned vocal loops chanting “brother to brother / brother to brother” that dance in your brain, tucked tightly into brisk hand drum patterns and open hi-hats. Thaemlitz lets loose sumptuous, aquamarine waves of synth tone that glide over the frisky rhythms like a breeze across a naked body. Even as whistling synth leads and strident piano vamping appear, “B2B” feels like the missing link between Main Street Records and some of the best of deep house music since it returned to prominence. You could buy the record for this track alone but its companion track renders that unnecessary.
“Hush Now” belonged to a project on Ultra-Red’s Public Record label that meshed AIDS activism with dance music with “Silence = Death” as its main precept. Thaemlitz (as DJ Sprinkles) leaves no room for silence, as even the crackling noises at the beginning are programmed and looped throughout. Once he begins adding elements it seems hard to stop, as layers of bongos and drum breaks, Fingers-esque bass strides and commands to “hush now!” stack up until little room remains in the stereo spectrum. Another chant grows from within — “Silence equals death!” — which eventually beats back the percussion until the shuffle of a crowd and the chant are all that’s left. In his LWE’s Jon Dale’s interview with Thaemlitz wondered, “Why do so few house projects ask us to struggle along with them, as opposed to always positioning themselves as doorways of escape from our struggles?” The track embodies the sentiment that we can’t dance away problems like AIDS or intolerance — they’re still with us in the club. Thaemlitz and Skylax were wise to package “B2B” and “Hush Now” together, as they, like all Terre’s best house tracks, have listeners thinking as hard as their bodies are jacking. An essential release of 2010.