Todd Terje - It's Album Time (Album Review)

Todd Terje's (real name Terje Olsen) music has always been a bit goofy.

His warm and summery disco imbued sound is a confusing landscape for an artist born in Norway, where there aren't sunny beaches and hot sweaty nights. Nonetheless, he creates music as if he lived all his childhood in Brazil, Mallorca or Dominican Republic. He became one of Scandinavia's most prominent music producers and DJs thanks to his remixes of old disco tunes, establishing a close partenership with two other sounding names of cosmic-disco: Prins Thomas and Lindström, both Terje's country fellows.

In spite of all his endeavors as a music producer and as remixer, he hasn't been a man working with a schedule on his mind, releasing original songs when he felt the time was right; slowly he set loose some tracks that, over the last ten years, built to his reputation as the "King of Summer Jams" and even though his first release dates from 2004, only now he's ready to take the next step; actually, he recognizes it's been way too long for such a decision, to the point of using the album's title - 'It's Album Time' - as a self joke.

'Inspector Norse' is still his most acclaimed song, but tracks like 'Ragysh', 'Strandbar' and 'Spiral', most of which are long musical strolls through paradise islands, also stirred fans and critics. And his colaboration with Lindström - following Terje's mixing and editing suport in his last album, 'Smalhans' - originated one of last year's Summers hymns: 'Lanzarote'.

Thus, Todd Terje's first album has arrived (via Olsen Records) and it features previously released themes side by side with new ones. And here, he ventures into unknown territories, visiting subgenres that, while not totally unrelated to his previous work, sound surprising and take us - and himself - out of the comfort zone. After a small intro, we're tossed into 'Leisure Suit Preben', a track that could easily find a cozy spot in a Pink Panther movie, with its jazzy elements sugesting a sleuth in the turning case of his lousy career, until an harpsichord shows up and adds complexity to the scene. Next, 'Preben Goes to Acapulco' plays with melody and spiraling synths, distorting them and conveying a dreamlikeness that trully evoques a mexican haven.

'Svensk Sas' goes all the way down into latin landscapes, almost becoming a samba-driven track with fast rhythms and hilarious voice modulations that make us think that Terje might have been hallucinating while composing a song like this one; it's completely over-the-top, in a funny and spectacular way. 'Strandbar', here in a shorter version, is a classic cosmic-disco cut with a lot of things going on in the several layers of its exuberant architecture: piano keys, arpeggios, cowbells... just name it. You'll be sweating in no time while dancing to it; it's guaranteed.

Keeping up with the fast pace comes 'Dynamite Delorean', a highly synthetic track that emblazes all that Terje's been doing in the past, pure 80's madness that will drain every single drop of adrenaline your body's able to produce. The rhythm slows down significantly with 'Johnny & Mary', a Robert Palmer's cover sang by Bryan Ferry, which might as well be the most serious thing Terje's ever done; it's a dreamy and smokey ballad, stollen right from the heart of the 80's, and comes as the most unexpected and wonderful moment of the entire album.

'Alfonso Muskedunder' sounds like thoughtful improvisation, that flashes with high-spirited happiness and goofyness; another jazz experimentation that goes nowhere, actually. Then come both parts of 'Swing Star', two tracks previously released that, once again, catapult us into deep space; while the first part is an amazing voyage into a colourful and difuse gas nebula, the second one is a more restrained planetary incursion.

As the end comes near, 'Oh Joy' is euphoria in pure state, perhaps one of the new jams that better encapsulates Terje's canon laws, sounding trully imense in its danceable and irresistible disco-infused basslines, vibrant arpeggios and larger-than-life synthesizers. A wonderful masterpiece! Finaly, 'Inspector Norse', one of Terje's most well-known tracks, closes the album, making you dance to its boogie inflexions until you can't feel your legs. It's the perfect ending for a breathtaking and jubilant journey.

'It's Album Time' may require a bit of your attention, mainly because, at first, it seems to diverge from what we're used to hear from Terje (he preferred keeping the tracks short instead of stretching them to the nine or twelve minutes mark, as he usually does; he makes careful trips into new soundscapes...). However, after a second listening, you'll start to find this fondness for all-things-joyous that permeates his music, and you discover new details and come to terms with the most obvious evidence: that his goofyness is still the engine of this record. He manages to stay true to himself and, at the same time, find vigor to also stay relevant, even if his first album was long overdue.

RATE: 8/10

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