DJ Sprinkles, Where Dancefloors Stand Still

[Mule Musiq]


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When recording a mix CD, many DJs attest to trying to capture the experience they bring to clubs. The reality is often altogether different, as evidenced by hundreds of glossy, seamless mixes calibrated for home-listening audiences and not a crowd reacting in real time. And while there’s still room for compelling mix CDs within that scope, I generally appreciate when one steps outside this often predictable approach. Leave it to Terre Thaemlitz to take it there. Having started as a DJ at transsexual sex worker club Sally’s II in New York, the now-Japan-based artist has made waves producing electronic and dance music since the early 90s. DJing, however, has very much stayed a part of her repertoire, perhaps best exemplified by the Deeperama party series captured on self-released CDRs. LWE was lucky enough to snag a recording from one as our 14th podcast, and they reveal a DJing style rooted in more traditionally used techniques: playing tracks end to end in a Loft-style; extensive use of EQs and delay filters; and extending songs with double copies. Terre’s first commercial mix outside her Comatonse Recordings, Where Dancefloors Stand Still for Mule Musiq, documents this surprisingly faithfully. It’s a particularly refreshing mix whose astoundingly on-point selections sequenced just so seem to redefine what listeners should expect from the mix CD format.

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Letting one track finish before starting the next would come off as an eye-opening rookie error if not masterfully executed. Terre, operating here under his DJ Sprinkles guise, lines up her beats perfectly, gently tugging listeners into the arms of the next track without a single bump. The fumes of Alex Danilov’s “Deep S” provide cover for the beatless intro of Sound Mechanix’s spare and emotional “I Can’t Forget,” which itself melts away suddenly as the Rhythm Slaves’ “The Light You Will See,” remixed by Trentemoller, takes its place. The combinations are thrilling — risky, even — without the lengthy blends many DJs perform, although these are part of Terre’s oeuvre, as well. He poignantly begins MyMy’s “Everybody’s Talkin'” four minutes into The Rude Awakening’s “The Dip” (5 AM Dipsco Mix), inserting it like a drum break into the relentlessly upbeat track, letting the vocals stutter into superb, unexpected nooks. The whole mix is keenly aware of the need for breathing room in dance music and how to dose it out, dubby tracks and ones with ambient portions affording space to exhale before returning to beats.

Since she spends less time concocting elaborate blends, Terre makes use of most tracks’ runtime to sculpt their sounds. Much more commonly heard in live settings, his assertive use of EQs adds tension and dynamics throughout the mix while stopping well short of abuse. Shearing off the high end or pulling out the low end in order to fill the room with their return are hardly new tricks by any standards, but so rarely do DJs think to be that playful in the context of a mix CD. Terre also proves fond of pooling out hi-hats and snares with the help of echo and delay effects, which replace predictability with cheeky reminders that DJ Sprinkles is controlling our experience. Admittedly, this doesn’t seem as enticing on paper — a DJ’s instinctual tweaks and tucks always sound better in the moment than described after the fact.

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A big part of why the mix succeeds is the tracks she’s chosen. Eschewing commissioned exclusives in favor of records which have lingered in his DJ bag, the 14 tracks on Where Dancefloors Stand Still (especially the nine extracted for the vinyl version) are gloriously free of duds. Produced by Braxton Holmes and remixed by Ron Trent, “12 Inches Of Pleasure” sets the mood for the entire mix with its liquid melodies and walking bass line. Deep house is the loosest way to define it, spanning the jazzy touches of Classic Man’s “Rapid Winds” (75 MPH Mix) and the dubbed-out grooves of Lectroluv’s “If We Try” (Ambient Dub). Terre is wise to punctuate these intricate yet easygoing tunes with more energetic ones, such as the anthemic “Good Feeling” by Gene Farris or classic house torch song “Never No More Lonely” by Fingers Inc. Robert Owen’s plaintive expressions of passion make the latter the mix’s emotional peak and a natural penultimate track. “You saved my day,” he sings, adding, “Thank you, baby.” It’s almost as if Terre is thanking listeners for following along with her every unconventional move and reaping the payoff of each EQ twist and turn. Those brave enough to set aside contemporary mix CD conventions and embrace DJ Sprinkles’ Where Dancefloors Stand Still will be rewarded with the most brilliant and beautiful deep house mix in recent memory.

Listener  on May 29, 2013 at 2:30 AM

Did you deliberately use both HE and SHE troughout this review? I just wondered.

littlewhiteearbuds  on May 29, 2013 at 9:31 AM

@Listener

Yep, this was a deliberate decision on our part. Terre doesn’t care for gender pronouns or the alternatives developed with transgender people in mind, so we went with her recommended solution: alternating.

Turtle  on May 29, 2013 at 9:19 PM

well done

Trackbacks

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