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  • Filed under: Review
  • 01/17/2012

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Todd Terje It's The Arps

It's only taken about seven years, but it seems that Todd Terje's back in the fold. The Norwegian producer hit the scene back in 2004 with the now-classic "Eurodans," a recorded which headlined a short string of original releases in the mid '00s. For whatever reason, that was followed by a long dry period during which Terje busied himself with remix and re-edit work. Last year, the silence was broken, as Terje released the well-received Ragysh, his first original release since 2005's Mjøndalen Diskoklubb. Now, the producer is back quickly with It's The Arps, a brand-new EP on Smalltown Supersound that picks up where his last left off.

"Inspector Norse" leads the EP as its natural a-side club hit. Light and breezy, it's an utterly unpretentious evocation of good times with a somewhat predictable structure that emerges in an unpredictable way. Terje creates a backdrop '70s-drum-machine rhythm which he layers with lightly driving bass arpeggios and muted analog pads. Delayed, tube-like synthesizer leads create a narrative direction that floats through the mix while celebrating major key scales and the pleasure of analog synthesis. This happy atmosphere builds slowly and subtly over the course of the first three minutes. As the track begins its slow crescendo, a droning high-frequency sine wave emerges from the soundscape to lead everything into an explosive wave of serotonin. For a moment, the floor drops out and soaring basslines are released, giving the track a sense of weight. Here Terje shows remarkable restraint, pulling back on the bass just as everything is about to get too heavy. The track then cuts to a clap-led breakdown that lets the melody shine before slowly reducing itself into a puff of tape delay.

The EP takes a turn towards the strange with "Myggsommer," a janky interlude that lands somewhere between '70s supermarket muzak and the goofier moments of Yello. It's a track that seems to revel in its own silliness, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. In terms of the EP, it serves as an intermediary moment between the straightforward dance of "Inspector Norse" and the more experimental B-sides.

This experimental turn is fully realized on the epic "Swing Star." Broken into two parts, it's the freshest sounding song on the release. It begins with beatless synth noodlings that slowly cohere into circular patterns. Rushing along at 160 bpm, the track approaches a vibe akin to Manuel Gottsching's "E2-E4" mixed with Italo disco's spacier moments. Gradually, the arpeggiations take over the mix, bouncing across the surface like a flood of ping pong balls. A slow fade into feedback is met by the tune's slower second half, which takes cues from late-night sleaze and cosmic sounds to end the record squarely in dancefloor territory.

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