Monday 7 April 2014

Review of 'It's Album Time' by Todd Terje

Get your bellbottoms on and groom that afro 'cos disco is back with a vengeance.

Spacey seventies synths and string sections ride funky house beats to create a neo-disco sound similar in vein to Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories (Read Review Here), only more epic, more instrumental and more hi-octane. Norwegian dance producer, Todd Terje, has had this album brewing in the pipeline for almost a decade. I only discovered the dude a year ago so the wait hasn’t been as frustratingly long as I imagine it has been for some people. Does this album justify the ten years it took to make? I’d answer yes, it does.

First thing’s first, this album isn’t subtle. It’s ridiculously overblown and it knows it, demonstrated by the first track ‘intro’, which ends with chants of ‘its album time!’ followed by the sound effect of an explosion. Its then that the moogs enter the mix. So many moogs. All the moogs.

A wild moog

These multiple moogs are arranged into dazzling symphonies that flow brilliantly into one another, continuously switching between different grooves. Strandbar was the track that got me into Todd Terje – a samba house anthem that steadily evolves into latin/rave staccato pianos. The version on the album has been trimmed down from its lengthy eight minute single version to a more succinct four and a half minute portion. Midway through the record, comes the Bryan Ferry synthesizer ballad, Johnny and Mary, a track that I didn’t particularly care for the first time I heard it. It’s not a particularly upbeat song. In fact, when you listen to the lyrics you realise it’s pretty damn depressing. However, its place in the album is perfectly timed, bringing the pace down to let the listener breathe and reflect. It’s a crazy mood change that somehow works.

Things start to simmer off towards the middle-end, although the album does end on a bang – the seven minute funk monster, ‘Inspector Norse’. The teasing build up is what makes this track and many of the other tracks. There aren’t any drops on this album as of such. No buildupbuildbuildup... WUBWUBWUB moments. Instead, its all buildupbuildupbuildup - cool progression - buildupbuildupbuildup. Maybe that’s what makes this album so refreshing.

Sonically speaking, It’s Album Time is nothing new. It’s the Giorgio Moroder sound, polished up with modern production. What stops this album from being another serving of plain old retro is Terje’s ability to take all the best parts of seventies synth-heavy disco and arrange them seamlessly in a way that no-one else ever has.