Todd Terje truly is a ‘once in a lifetime’ musician
Norwegian producer TODD TERJE is a tough artist to pinpoint. His sound doesn’t particularly stick to conventions of any one genre, rather he uses his music to challenge multiple different sounds and conventions all at once.
His debut record, It’s Album Time, shot to mass critical acclaim and sits amongst one of the most imperative and influential dance records potentially of all time. It’s self produced and took over three years to record, but the result is the culmination of years of intuition, education and pure creativity. What’s most noticeable is his affluent nods to historical emergences of electronic music, and he works very hard to embed those sounds in such a way that they don’t sound recycled.
We haven’t seen him here in Australia for a hot minute, but last Thursday evening, he took to the Metro Theatre with his full live band, The Olsens, to deliver something wholly unforgettable. This show really marked a new era of intensity that proved that Terje is an artist that only really comes along once in a lifetime.
He’s marked himself as an artist that doesn’t take himself too seriously – the title It’s Album Time radiates totally casual tones – but his sound is really the opposite. He’s found a way to blend conventional disco with a billion other sounds, genres and histories. It’s production at its best, and experiencing his run of live songs with The Olsens backing him made my understanding of the record shift entirely.
The show began with an incredibly apt opening set from Andy Garvey who’s coming off the back of her debut single, ‘Club [Tool]’. Filling the crowd’s eager ears with classic cuts and new niceties from her years of crate digging, she’s fast solidifying herself as an artist to watch in 2018.
Roland Tings was up next, delivering sounds that felt right at home on this stage. He’s got a new track with HIGH HØØPS titled ‘One Hundred’, which is a total house dream, something that really slot in nicely amongst the whole night.
What was so great about the three acts in totality was the fact that they were so cohesive. The curation was totally on point for this show, and all of the artists really worked hard to deliver the best and most authentic sound they could.
Not too much longer after Roland Tings finished his set, there was a small flurry of lights. The crowd went silent. Phones went up. There was a sea of hands, light and heads all eagerly anticipating the live setup and what was about to go down.
Todd Terje himself stood at a table equipped with a laptop, effect microphone and a classic keyboard, behind a banner emblazoned with ‘Todd Terje & The Olsens’. To his right, a percussionist armed with an array of artillery – bongo drums and the like. Further to the right again, a drummer equipped with a full kit, and finally, a man that seemed to be the ‘all-rounder’ was planted neatly in line with Todd, armed with an electric guitar and a couple of synths. For a record with as many sounds as Terje‘s embodies, it was definitely not surprising to see them all equipped with so much gear.
In 2007, Terje told Resident Advisor that, “I like my music very fruity.” This quote really resonated with the sounds he chose to play throughout his entire set, moving through each rhythm and texture like it was absolutely nothing, but each sound had something totally cheeky about it.
The first time the crowd really began to become involved with the music was during the frenzied-jazz of ‘Svensk Sås’. Although the melody consists of pitch shifted, vocoded vocals made to sound instrumental, dotted with little skat oo’s and ah’s, the entire crowd was buzzing along to the sharp, foreign melody. There was a collective hum about the room that bounced off every wall, and it totally gave me goosebumps. It was something special, and something that only Terje could incite.
‘Alfonso Muskedunder’ kept the crowd on their toes as we struggled to find the timing of the track, but I think that’s what made this show totally distinctive. It’s clear that his music is great to dance to, but at the same time, there’s an element of complexity to his work that makes you realise that this is more than just dance music – he is ultimately a composer, capable of doing so much more than what’s available to us on face value.
The set itself was incredible – spanning from disco, to techno, to wonky jazz, Terje is a master of them all. He even threw in a cover of Yellow Light Orchestra‘s ‘Fire Cracker’ for good measure too.
Ending before the encore on crowd favourite ‘Inspector Norse’, there was absolutely no doubt that this was going to be a big track to take us home with. From the opening bars of the track, to when the wonky little synth hits hit, the crowd was eagerly singing along to any form of melody possible. Mimicking the little percussive hits and the synth stabs with their voices, there was a real community vibe about the crowd during this track.
Finishing up with ‘Spiral’ & a cover of Vangelis’ ‘La Fête Sauvage’, Terje left the stage having absolutely convinced us that he is an incredibly gifted musician.
Terje is a master of many things. Through the arrangement of the songs and how they’ve been translated to a live setting, there was a heightened sense of accomplishment that really resonated. It’s one thing to be able to effectively produce and DJ your own record, but to be able to recreate electronic dance music into a live setting with a full band is something that is beyond the traditional role of a producer. He’s stepped into ‘composer’ territory now, and I for one am totally here for it.
WORDS BY CAITLIN MEDCALF