Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Todd Terje - It's Album Time

Norwegian producer Todd Terje has always had a taste for novelty: 2012's mockumentary Whateverest follows an obsessed fan for 15 surreal minutes, he has remixed Roxy Music, and features Bryan Ferry on a cover of Robert Palmer's 'Johnny and Mary.' Detractors are quick to suggest that this renders his music trivial, but the status of 'Inspector Norse' and 'Strandbar' as Summer anthems for 2012 and 2013 suggests that when the sun comes out, this kind of silliness is exactly what people want.

Terje exploits this to the full on his first LP - finally complete following a decade of singles and EPs - by wedding the inherent novelty of cheesy synth loops with artful builds and full on ecstatic disco house moments. From the outset, however, it's clear that It's Album Time will not be making any concessions to his critics. The opener consists of the album title chanted over arpeggiated bleeps, and is followed by 'Leisure Suit Preben' and 'Preben Goes to Acapulco' (recently released either side of a 7"), which sound like a 70s sci-fi TV series set in a future Miami. Next is 'Svensk Sas', which can most accurately be described as polka with added scat singing. Like Metronomy without the arch humour, or Air without the Gallic cool, this does begin to get a little tiresome.

Fortunately, the middle section, announced by 'Strandbar', shows a (slightly) more serious side. Future smash 'Delorean Dynamite' features a grimy bassline that disappears into washes of synth before emerging even harder than before. This is followed by 'Johnny and Mary' which, despite dispensing with the drive and much of the melancholy charm of the original, is a great display of Terje's talent for building a tune that doesn't need to go anywhere to satisfy.

The final third is a gradual build through more nu-disco and 90s computer game themes towards 'Inspector Norse', Terje's calling card Summer jam that closes with a festival crowd chanting its riff. These final sounds show the true intentions of an album cloaked in irony and knowing references. "Yes," say the gradually fading crowd, "there may be silliness and whimsy, but listen to how much fun we're having!" Maybe, like a sullen teenager at the edges of a wedding, it might just be time for us to stop shaking our heads and head for the dance floor.

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