Todd Terje Todd TerjeRemaster Of The Universe
With the exception of the international referee Tom Henning Øvrebø, whose name it is better not to pronounce near a Chelsea F.C. supporter, Norwegians have a well-deserved reputation for being efficient, rigorous, and disciplined, avoiding mistakes, and being cultured and civilised (we’ll take the liberty to remove the odd black metal vandal from this generalisation). But Todd Terje has never really given me the impression that he is closer to being a machine than a man. I don’t know him personally, and so I run the serious risk of making a completely erroneous appraisal, but seeing him in his promotional photos always making faces and freaky gestures, and listening to part of his more humorous background material, it’s not hard to imagine him as a garrulous man who enjoys his free time, and who isn’t in a special hurry to rush each morning to his computer screen and start sending out music into the ether. This may explain why in six years of career, with everything in his favour he does whatever he feels like. As the third vertex of the Norwegian scene in the reactivation of disco music, Terje has never put out an album. Even Prins Thomas, another eternal lazybones, has beaten him to it.
Or should I have said “perfectionist”? It might be this, or it might be both things, but it’s clear that the music of Terje Olsen –that’s his real name (Todd has to be some kind of joke, and it suits him)– isn’t something you can knock out in an afternoon or two. It unfolds like a rainbow of arpeggios, with asymmetrical beats, organic arrangements, golden voices, and unexpected changes of rhythm; it avoids repetitive structures and is aware of the principles of cosmic disco: a long development, epic background, ambition. It doesn’t last the thirty minutes that a Lindstrøm song may last when his friend is on form, but Todd Terje is a sponge: he absorbs everything and fills up until nothing else fits. To do that, you need not only talent, but also patience, and one can understand and excuse his rate of production, which is not very fast, so to speak. “Remaster of the Universe” for those who don’t know, isn’t a Todd Terje album (will there be one some day?), but rather an anthology of his five years or more dedicated to what we know as Balearic sound, space disco and neo boogie, the opportunity to meet up again with legendary remixes, jocular versions, original songs, and interesting rarities, and from there, to adjust the focus of his work.
Sixteen cuts later –the first CD of the two of “Remaster of the Universe” is a very condensed DJ mix that reviews the entire trajectory and different turns of Terje’s style; one can see that our man’s resources are even greater than those of Prins Thomas or Lindstrøm. They might beat him in historical knowledge, the number of records they own (this is just speculation), and even for having a nose for finding the little details that make a production stick in your memory—like the galactic synthesiser line of “I Feel Space”—but our man embraces more options and steps into wider ranging fields. His area of influence goes from primitive disco music with bombastic chords and organic percussion to the early days of acid house in Chicago; he occupies a time frame of about 20 years of revival, because as far as being able to goes, he can hark back to the sound of krautrock and forwards to the 90s. But what stands out about him, is a detail that I hope I haven’t insisted on too much: is his sense of humour and his taste in jokes. “All that She Wants” which he signed as Chuck Norris –humorous detail number one– is a version of the eurodance group Ace Of Base –humorous detail number two– an option that confirms his passion for mash up or tacky references: “Terjelator,” signed as Kacic Kullmann’s Five, takes elements from Green Velvet’s “Percolator” and “Eurodan,”, indicated as a piece by the New Mjondalen Disco Swingers, uses the same gypsy trumpet as Ricardo Villalobos’ “Fizheuer Zieheuer”. And let’s not forget “Pop Muzik”, a remix of M’s new wave hit (M is the alias of Robin Scott, collaborator of the recently-deceased Malcolm MacLaren), which Terje suitably transforms into the first Balearic sound song with a hooligan attitude.
The whole compilation shows that the quiet man from Oslo has been at a really high level for years; there are no weak points, and this isn’t a partial selection, but rather a complete retrospective, thanks to the inclusion of a second CD, which brings together his nine best remixes in all this time: the 10-minute Balearic monster of Studio’s “Life’s a Beach!”, the aforementioned “Pop Muzik”, the almost trance waterfall of arpeggio notes of Dølle Jølle’s “Balearic Incantation”, the acid house flashback of “Simple Things” by Shit Robot, his mutant disco reconstruction for Rogue Cat ( “Magic Journey”), or the most chill-out for super-sales José González ( “Killing for Love”) and of course, the song that made us prick up our ears like a radar and click “follow” as if his productions were Twitter updates: “Camino del Sol”, the remix for Antena –every time we listen to it, we can’t decide if we’re starting to like it better than Joakim’s version. Putting on this album consolidates the indisputable opinion that Todd Terje is fucking hot shit. Javier Blánquez* Buy here
kacic kullmann's five - terjelator