For those who like their dance music served up with a serving of intelligence, Todd Terje is a well-known name, having released numerous singles and remixes over the last 10 years. Just a couple of weeks ago the Norwegian disco/house DJ and producer released his first LP, It’s Album Time! Seeing how, for DJs, the release of an LP comes with an effort to transition from “entertainer” to “creator”, Mr Terje has produced a collection of tracks that are uniquely visionary, cementing his place as one of the important creators of dance/electronic music right now. I have now listened to the album 7 times and would would like to take a moment to wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone. As an album it is so difficult to describe that it is best to approach with as few preconceptions as possible (though those familiar with Mr Terje’s work before now will probably recognize a few of the tracks) and enter into the songs, let them carry you along on their roller-coaster rides of bouncy vacation music, propelled by Mr Terje’s virtuosic musicianship and deeply grooving beats. The greatest strength of It’s Album Time! however lies in the track sequencing, which for many artists of the digital age seems to be an afterthought, but for Mr Terje is a chance to show that he understands that an album is not merely a collection of songs but a statement. It can be seen most strongly in the album’s centerpiece, “Johnny and Mary”, a majestic and heartbreaking account of two alienated lovers sung by Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry (and originally written by Robert Palmer) that has my vote for song of the year – if not, song of the young millennium. Being the only track on the album that features a complete vocals, “Johnny and Mary” arrives after 6 tracks of anything-goes house music and is followed by another 5 but stands head and shoulders above every other track on the album for its emotional evocation. And yet it proves that the giddiness with which Mr Terje has created this album is not his sole identity, that the giddiness I feel when I listen to it is, in fact, meant to be felt, meant as a gift. It’s true that Todd Terje wants you to dance, that he wants you to move however your body leads you…but he also wants you to know that he knows what it means to be sad.
Whether you have enjoyed disco music in the past (you listened to Random Access Memories, didn’t you?), whether or not you have ever sought out dance music as “music to listen to”, whether or not you care about what is happening in capital-m Music right now, this album needs to be heard to be believed. And Mr Terje’s songwriting is such that you are guaranteed to be happier for having listened. Be sure to check out some of the stand-out tracks below.