Its Album Time with Todd Terje! The so cleverly named album title holds more meaning than just a simple title as this is the debut album for Todd Terje. This is another album that is on a lesser known trend of putting an electro spin on a combination of styles that aren’t usually associated with the electronica scene. Styles as varied as psychedelic disco, cocktail lounge, even 80’s action music comes to mind when listening. So without further ado: It’s album review time!
One look at the album cover art by Bendik Kaltenborn tastefully encapsulates the style and feel of the album. Don’t let the intro track confuse you into thinking this is will be a high concept, experimental album. Todd Terje comes off as being a self-assured artist pursuing his own brand of magic, with little concern if it will be a hit with anyone else. As a result, you will hear long melodic key progressions, slow and low basslines, and percussion lines akin to slow rock, through out the album. To put it simply, these tracks are unlike anything you would commonly find in electronic music, let alone most current popular genres.
The second track on the album, “Leisure Suit Preben”, has a strange and slow start. A low bassline trudges you along with little certainty of where the track is going, that is until a trickle of high notes sets off a piano chorus with a mixed feeling of angst and hopefulness. Todd then sets up anticipation as the progression of the bassline creeps slower and slower with each verse. Next, a rapid change of pace relaunches track into a new tone, keeping the listener on their toes as the track transitions onto the next, “Preben Goes To Acapulco”, without missing a beat! It’s this level of creativity that seems to remind me of what has been vacant in music as newer generations of artists move towards simpler musical structures and shorter melodies to express themselves.
After the third track, Todd Terje doesn’t get anymore innovative so much as he turns things up to a more dance pace. “Svensk Saas”, besides revealing how ubiquitous and unmistakable salsa music is, has a rapid pace and relatively short run time, perhaps as part of a joke to be made on the style. The next two tracks, “Strandbar” and “Delorean Dynamite”, really hit 80’s disco club music right on the head with powerful synths and kitschy sound effect garnishing the background of the track.
It is after these fun tracks that we get to the only ballad of the album, “Johnny and Mary” featuring Bryan Ferry from Roxy Music. The vocals are integral, matching the tone and pace of the instrumentals, making for a more somber cover of the original song by Robert Palmer. The track really hits home to the song’s story of being stuck in a negligent relationship burdened by a sense of estrangement. A big shift away from the album’s sense of bravado, this track is very moving and just a great as the original song.
After a wave of gloomy emotions, the album picks up right where it left off with, “Alfonso Muskedunder”. Jazzy and full of momentum, it reaches an melody so upbeat, it can only come to a full stop before reaching back up and entering a squealing synth solo. The following “Swing Star Part I” and the part II sound out of place, as they were part of his earlier It’s Arps EP. None the less they carry fun transition between rapid notes in the first part and a slow and low bassline accompanied by glistening granular synths in the second.
The album ends with one of Todd Terje’s most famous works from the It’s Arps EP, “Inspector Norse”. A long and paced disco-meets-modern-house, not very far off in structure to an EDM hit, yet it carries the tame groovy quality of early dance tracks. In a comedic act of self-validation, the track ends with an applause and cheering fans chanting the chorus melody, guaranteeing his album always ends with an applause.
While being very far off the beaten path in many respects, Todd Terje’s tracks are very colorful, taking on a life like persona like a character in a movie, and he shows a level of craftsmanship with his melodies that rewards listeners with excitement. Still, despite being confident, it never slips him to be humble with kitschy sounds, and a few tracks here and there that are just for goofs.