album reviews

7", 10", 12" reviews

compilation reviews

remix reviews


K-S.H.E - Routes Not Roots
- Ron Schepper

In Grooves (US), March 2006.


Routes Not Roots, the debut album by K-S.H.E (Kami-Sakunobe House Explosion), is as audacious and provocative as anything else in Terre Thaemlitz's discography. The latest project merges Comatonse Recordings' "fagjazz" sound with the New York-style deep house Thaemlitz presents at his bi-monthly DJ Sprinkles' Deeperama set at Tokyo's Club Module. Certainly the one-time New Yorker's move to Japan has enriched his work, adding new dimensions to an already-distinctive oeuvre.

"Down Home Kami-Sakunobe" recasts house as a country-hoedown/raga, while Thaemlitz includes a lovely cover of the traditional "Black is the Color of My True Love's Hair." He works in some dreamy vocal house on "Double Secret," and makes room on "Head (In My Private Lounge, My Pad)" for piano playing that recalls his Kraftwerk and Gary Numan homages Die Roboter Rubato and Replicas Rubato. As those familiar with Thaemlitz work would expect, themes of sexual identity, cultural de-contextualization, sexually transmitted diseases, and violence emerge throughout, though integrated coyly rather than didactically. On "Saki-chan (Pt.1)," for example, any possible discomfort the Japanese transgendered male's recounting might provoke is eased by the backing from Minnie Ripperton's "Lovin' You," also prominently heard on Thaemlitz's Lovebomb.

At 80 minutes, Routes Not Roots verges on double-album status with two of its 12 tracks (the gospel-flavored house of "Hobo Train" and "Crosstown") in the 13-minute range. And Thaemlitz challenges the listener's patience with "Stand Up," a comedian's routine about a violent subway encounter between the one-time "hillbilly gender-bender" narrator and a group of Puerto Rican queens. But taken as a whole, Routes Not Roots is compelling, constituting another fascinating chapter in Thaemlitz's ongoing story.