Posted by: Jeff | February 27, 2012

Album Review: Todd Terje – “It’s the Arps” EP

Todd Terje – The Arps EP [Buy Here]

Smalltown Supersound
Release Date: January 2012
Grade: B+

Todd Terje – “Inspector Norse”

Norwegian Todd Terje is most commonly affiliated with his fellow Scandinavians in the space disco movement, despite the fact that he didn’t release much beyond re-edits and club-ready remixes of eighties pop tracks and releases by labelmates in the six years following 2005’s breakout ‘Eurodans’ LP.  So it was some surprise when, in the spring of 2011, Terje dropped two singles (“Ragysh” and the epic “Snooze 4 Love”) that surpassed much of what had been released by his peers in the intervening years.  Luckily, his next release didn’t require a waiting period of 6 years – the magnificent ‘It’s the Arps’ EP arrived while the beautiful arpeggios of “Snooze” still echo.

“Inspector Norse” begins in a wash of tuner feedback before dropping an irresistibly groovy disco beat.  Terje composed ‘Arps’ entirely on an ARP2600 synthesizer, and he explores the instrument’s entire range here, from the deliriously wobbly stabs of mid-range noise that sounds like a wobbly saw to the slightly off-kilter melody that exudes a word I never thought I’d use in a disco review: swagger.  “Norse” is wonderful because it’s such a joyous exploration of sound, a perfect soundtrack to a carefree evening of fun.  When the track folds in on itself and begins to swell toward one of those epic drops that is all the rage at the moment in dance music, Terje is there to catch you, cutting the break off at the pass in favor of more groove.  It’s an exultant and cheeky moment, and a listener can’t help but smile.

“Swing Star Pt. 1” and “Swing Star Pt. 2” are offered as stand-alone tracks and an epic 11-minute mini-mix.  “Pt. 1” begins with atmospheric ambience overlaid by frenzied arpeggios that sound like a sped-up Tangerine Dream or Adam Johnson track, wonderfully evocative and beautiful.  The breakbeat that kicks in a quarter of the way speeds the track along, racing toward a denouement that fades directly into the spacy “Pt. 2.”  The second half of the suite is slower, funkier, and more complex than “Pt. 1”, offering a counter-melody of bass to offset the twinkly rainbow arps in the treble.

“Myggsommer” is a misstep, far too weird and trippy for the rest of the EP.  Offering warbly psychedelic synths that would sound at home in a campy 50’s movie about space exploration, the track meanders and feels like an exercise in self-indulgence.  Luckily, it’s a brief intermission between two fantastic offerings – the spectacular “Inspector Norse” and the two-part “Swing Star” series, so doesn’t do much to temper the fun of the record.

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