New York-based composer Terre Thaemlitz is one of only a handful of significant American artists working in the new ambient vein. He's released the bulk of his material through the Instinct Ambient label, but has also issued tracks (under his own name and as Chugga) on his own Comatonse label and through others. Although Thaemlitz's entre into electronic came in a somewhat traditional fashion -- as a house DJ -- his explorations in electronic abstraction have been anything but, focusing on themes of abjection, alienation, fracture, and contradiction in his music. Thaemlitz's recorded work, collected on albums such as Tranquilizer and Soil, is closer in tone to ambient-leaning industrialists such as B. Lustmord, Carl Stone, and (some) Merzbow, as well as "deep listening" composers such as Pauline Oliveros and Robert Rich. He's also recorded with Bill Laswell, releasing Web in 1995, and done remix work for Interpieces Organization and the Golden Palaminos, among others.
Born in Minnesota and raised in Missouri, Thaemlitz moved to New York in the mid-'80s to pursue art scholarship at Cooper Union. Soon distracted by the growing New York house scene, he began DJing at drag balls and benefits, leading to an Underground Grammy for best DJ in 1991. Although primarly a dancefloor DJ, Thaemlitz's insistence upon integrating house music's more simplistic monotony with challenging, complicated breaks and references earned him an uneasy relationship with club promoters looking for DJs whose only commitment was the 4/4 beat. Retiring from club DJing in the early '90s (although he continues to spin experimental electronic music at art galleries, one-offs, and in other marginal contexts), Thaemlitz began making his own tracks, beginning with house but quickly moving into genre defying fusions of funk, soul, disco, and musique concrete, and eventually settling into experimental ambient. One of his earliest works, "Raw from a Straw," in addition to limited release through his own Comatonse label, appeared on an early ambient compilation on Instinct, and earned him an almost instant reputation. He's since fortified that with a pair of full-length releases remarkably free of many of the cliched conventions of club-drived ambient. He continues to support new talent through Comatonse, and in 1999 returned with Replicas Rubato. Interstices, a thirty-one track release with no song titles, followed a year later. ~ Sean Cooper