It’s the reliance on a sole instrument, namely the ARP2600 analog synthesizer, that allows producer/DJ Todd Terje to navigate his way through a very impressive EP that, while a bit glib at times, morphs distinct chills and genuine atmosphere out of basic dance song structures.
The puzzlingly titled “Inspector Norse” opens the four-song set with an infectious groove and a foot-tapping shuffle. The song sheds its faux-Deadmau5 skin early, though, as the lead synth riff takes center stage, evolving, transforming, and sliding around both the beat and powerful major chords that bellow beneath at the halfway mark. Smacking down initial concerns of mediocrity as the tracks pick up speed, Terje punches up unique flairs strong enough to lend each song its own personality. “Myggsommer”, Norwegian for “mosquito summer” and perhaps the only song to fit the album cover, showcases dark island beats and mysterious, robotic arpeggios that rise and fall, the faint buzzing and crunching underneath it all complementing the groove.
As fun as the track is, it serves as a shaky bridge between the first song and Terje’s absolutely majestic “Swing Star” suite. Full of ’80s energy and vitality, “pt 1” is an exhilarating yet subdued ride, as if Yanni and his new age Zen were being filtered through a computer mainframe. The trance-like Eastern harmonies and fast-paced minor key swirls transition to “pt 2” with class, slowing the ideas down to a brisk nighttime walk through Kyoto – a decompression for the album as a whole, using welcome feedback and funk to wind down.
Each song is a lively, clever meditation on layering and adding electric flavor, bit by bit, in both the buildups and comedowns, and the freakier, funkier ideas are what Terje should focus on.
Essential Tracks: “Inspector Norse”, “Swing Star pt 1”