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  • Filed under: Review
  • 06/20/2013

DJ Sprinkles Queerifications & Ruins

The first thing to notice about DJ Sprinkles' Queerifications & Ruins is that her album-titling game is as tight as ever. Once again, the only job left for critics in the face of such conceptual acuity is to unpack the phrase. Sure enough, this two-disc remix collection pursues the artist's twin prerogatives: thoroughly undermining expectations while happening to create some indisputably beautiful, backhandedly classical sonic artifacts along the way.

Covering the period from 2010 to 2013, Queerifications rounds out what now looks like Terre Thaemlitz's Mule Musiq trilogy: just as Midtown 120 Blues and Where Dancefloors Stand Still consolidated her skills as a producer and DJ, Queerifications is bound to solicit wider appreciation of her iconoclastic remixing style. It's also the lengthiest of the three by a longshot; we're treated to more than two hours of Sprinklesiana here, with most tracks clearing the 10-minute mark. A Sprinkles remix is already a world unto itself—at this level of concentration, one might think we'd get sick of a sonic vocabulary that's basically consistent, despite regular moments of unpredictability. But, as with Where Dancefloors Stand Still, Sprinkles allows her material to unfurl completely, making hours feel like minutes in the process. This collection is another generous helping of crepuscular sublimity from house music's foremost historical materialist.

DJ Sprinkles' love of deep house is matched only by her fondness for disruption. The lengthy cuts here comfort and confront the listener in equal measure, which is to say that Queerifications & Ruins is sonically consistent with DJ Sprinkles' original productions and mixes. Whatever the context, Sprinkles remains decidedly Sprinkles. These remixes sound equally luxurious and cheap, employing a liquid combination of ironed-out, polyrhythmic percussion; resonant, contemplative clusters of piano; nimble, bumping azure bass lines; and looped vocal samples. Reserved enough to never be in the listener's face, these tracks have a crafty undertow, and Sprinkles' subtle additions and subtractions ensure that even 15-minute tracks don't get old—even when a stentorian vocal sample is wailing away regularly.

The occasional formal gambits are intriguing, too. Hard Ton's "Food of Love" gets Sprinkles' "Dubberama" treatment, which means Thaemlitz overdubs a wandering, spangled piano invention over its second half. The "Rock Bottom Mix" of Adultnapper's "Low Point on High Ground" likewise wrings a lot of drama out of Thaemlitz's expressive dissonances, especially when she nips those ponderous tone clusters in the bud with the damper pedal, resulting in a prism of bodily creaks. Surely there's an argument to be made that Thaemlitz is house music's Harold Budd, bolstered by the likes of "Food of Love" on the one hand and Thaemlitz's 30-plus-hour piano solo "Meditation on Wage Labor and the Death of the Album" on the other. Such intriguing digressions aside, Sprinkles' remixes are extremely serviceable, particularly because she doesn't try to be faithful to anyone but herself. As a result, songs by Oh, Yoko and Marco Bernardi can pass through the Thaemlitz mill and somehow end up on the same continuum. There's a formula, and a counter-formula, at work that ensures there are no surprises—DJ Sprinkles has already beaten everyone to all the punches. It's a sign of her continued relevance that in spite of this familiarity, every minute of the three Sprinkles discs that have come out this year feels essential.

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