Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr DJ Sprinkles and Skylax Records founder Hardrock Striker have collaborated intermittently for about a decade, but Skylax House Explosion is the fullest flowering yet of their partnership and a celebration of two kindred spirits. Each disc of the double CD is devoted to a mix from one of the two DJs, drawing primarily from the Skylax roster, and though each DJ’s personality is distinct, it’s striking how similar their ideas about house are, as though they were born to work together. DJ Sprinkles, a.k.a. Terre Thaemlitz, is a veteran DJ and experimental musician who’s probably best known for Midtown 120 Blues, a treatise on house music’s queer origins and their erasure by the genre’s global commercialization. It’s a great protest album doubling as a purist manifesto, and she’s quick to delineate between the corporate music sold as “deep house” and the “minimal mid-tempo instrumentals” of the New York deep house scene she came up in. Minimal mid-tempo instrumentals are the order of the day on Sprinkles’ set, and if there are vocals, they’re buried deep in the mix: specks on the wind rather than exhorting divas. The Sprinkles mix isn’t much of an “explosion.” It seethes slowly, sticking to a palette of chintzy drums and reflective chords. It’s easy to see why she’s drawn to Skylax, on which she’s put out a few releases as K-S.H.E. in the past—both for the label’s sound and its championing of queer artists. Striker’s mix is a little more ebullient and makes more frequent use of vocals—a few chopped-up handbag-house shriekers here and there, but also a voiceover on Greek producer Groove Riddim’s “The Difference” lambasting house purists who might not listen to a song because it wasn’t made with real TR-808 drum machines, for instance. “Did it make you stop dancing?” the voiceover asks. “Or… did it make you start thinking?” These people have strong opinions. Two similarities between the sets instantly stand out. The first is the presence of one powerful female pop auteur on each mix. Sameed’s “Bad You,” from Sprinkles’ mix, features a largely untreated sample from Erykah Badu’s “Bag Lady.” And Striker’s mix features his own remix of Kate Bush’s “Dreamtime,” a reject from The Dreaming. Each of these benevolent yet commanding voices feels like a visitor from another universe amid all this workmanlike music. Each mix is also centered on a track by a trans, female DJ. Lady Blacktronika’s “Right Direction” sticks out like a sore thumb on Sprinkles’ mix, riding in as it does on a lattice of brooding pianos that eventually give way to luminous dancefloor uplift. And Striker is so partial to Octo Octa’s “We Will Be Together Forever”—a solemn track whose sad piano loop contracts and expands organically—he features it twice in his mix, bookending Rosenhaft’s “Voyager.” Striker’s mix probably translates better away from a club setting. More happens, there’s a greater stylistic diversity, and he takes bigger risks, though the tracks don’t always flow as seamlessly. Thaemlitz’s is a fine primer to the kind of house music that inspires her, but its palette is a little too spartan to spark an explosion away from the dance floor.