DJ Sprinkles: Where Dancefloors Stand Still
The recordings Terre Thaemlitz issues under his own name are so provocative (look no further than last year's audio-visual mp3 album Soulnessless, which tips the scales at no less than thirty hours), I came to his latest DJ Sprinkles release half-expecting something of a similar kind, albeit one delivered in a dancefloor package. And while a cheeky track title such as the opening “12 Inches of Pleasure (Ron's Foreplay)” by Braxton Holmes (a Ron Trent mix of a Chicago deep house cut from 1992) certainly suggests Thaemlitz is up to his usual tricks, the mix's biggest surprise is how thoroughly accessible it is: Where Dancefloors Stand Still isn't a genre-advancing or experimental take on deep house but rather one that embraces and celebrates the form's smoother, melodious side.
That it's a more traditional-sounding project from the Japan-based Thaemlitz than one might expect shouldn't, however, be taken to mean that it's a let-down. Far from it: the eighty-minute set is a sweet and enticing ride from start to finish, one overflowing with sparkle and soul and featuring classics like Sound Mechanix's “I Can't Forget” and Fingers Inc.'s “Never No More Lonely”(the latter, naturally, crowned by Robert Owens' emotive croon). Of course, this being a Thaemlitz project, things are never quite as simple as they seem. The recording is, in fact, his personal reaction to Japan's “Fuzoku” laws, which allow police to enter and raid clubs for the “crime” of dancing and enforce a 1:00 AM curfew, and is thus in its own quiet way as political and subversive as anything else he's produced.
The overall feel is warm and fluid, as well as old-school in its inclusion of classic cuts and analog sounds (vocals, organ, electric piano, synthesizer, guitar, vibes, bass, percussion, drums), and its atmospheric, lounge-styled character suggests it would make a perfect after-party soundtrack. Nowhere does that become more evident than during sultry jams like “The Deep” by Manoo & Francois, “Understars” by Forestfunk I, and “Hard To Get” by Choo-Ables. Elsewhere, sprinklings of vibes and acoustic guitar lend Classic Man's “Rapid Winds” a dreamy, jazz-like flow that helps distinguish it from the recording's other thirteen tracks, and Trentemoller polishes The Rhythm Slaves' “The Light You Will See” to a sleek dubby sheen. A high point arrives two-thirds of the way through with the jubilant arrival of Gene Farris's “Good Feeling” (one of the mix's funkier episodes) and its repeated “I'm in love today / The feeling is so, so good” vocal hook. Where Dancefloors Stand Still dips its toes into funk, dub, jazz, latin, and soul, but the dominant style is, of course, deep house and a particularly seductive and consistently satisfying variant of it at that.