Terre Thaemlitz

Lovebomb

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After a few similar efforts for Mille Plateaux, the always-challenging Terre Thaemlitz returns with another intellectually charged electro-acoustic album, Lovebomb, that says a lot without saying much. Thaemlitz's preceding recordings for Mille Plateaux, particularly Interstices (2000) and Love for Sale: Taking Stock in Our Pride (1999), brought together abstract ideologies with ambient-glitch soundscapes, and so does Lovebomb, though much more coherently. The central idea here is fairly clear if you peruse the album's absolutely astonishing packaging (totally conceived by Thaemlitz) and take some time to think about what's presented: The underlying message here seems to be that love, perhaps the most celebrated emotion of all, is represented differently from culture to culture, and as paradoxical as it may seem, love is sometimes associated with destruction, which is metaphorically represented here by the notion of a bomb (as in, say, Islamic suicide/homicide bombings circa 2002). Thaemlitz conveys this message partly by delivering an album of dual languages, English and Japanese. Everything here, from the artwork to the liner notes to the recording itself, is represented in both languages. Chances are you'll not be able to comprehend both. If you do, you're in for a wealth of comparison, as that seems to be Thaemlitz's aim here: He wants you to see that love isn't as universal as most people sometimes think it is, as what seems literal in one culture translates differently in another. The notion of metaphor becomes central, at least from one likely vantage point, since the evidenced notions of love here -- the artwork, liner notes, field recordings, and so on -- are simply representations of a universal emotion that is communicated from culture to culture in a far from universal matter. As with most of Thaemlitz's albums for Mille Plateax, the ideas tend to outweigh the music, and here the packaging really steals the show, as it's outright marvelous, to the point where you even forget the music is playing. Furthermore, the timing of this album's release in early 2003, in the wake of the 9/11 disaster and on the eve of the Iraq crisis, seems particularly timely. Thaemlitz has released a lot of albums in his prolific and long-winded career -- some throwaways, some brilliant -- and Lovebomb is up there with the best of them, even if the music isn't too special.

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