#3 – Todd Terje, It’s Album Time

It Can Only End One Way

I think it’s around 11.10pm. Maybe 11.15pm to be safe. The time when, without warning, ‘out’ becomes ‘out-out’. Those times when it just creeps up on you. From nowhere. Like a car suddenly appearing in your rear view mirror when you thought the road was clear. You need to make a decision. Do you slow down, calmly and allow it to pass? Or do you drop a gear, grip the wheel and rev up to 11?

If you’re still in the bar at 11.15pm and don’t have your coat in your hand heading for the door, you’re ‘out-out’. And there’s no going back. You’ve chatted all evening, flirted all night and drunk enough to make you know about it the next day so you think ‘sod it, I’m ‘out-out’ ‘. And when you’re ‘out-out’ all you want to do is dance. 

Todd Terje’s ‘It’s Album Time‘ is the debut album from a Norwegian DJ. It’s his take on what a full-length dance record should sound like. Released in 2014, there are nods to disco & funk and the ’70s blaxploitation films as well as euphoric dance tracks of the ’90s. But the sentiment I personally couldn’t shake off listening to this was a wonderful, nostalgic delivery of the mind back to a version of myself in the 1980s. 

With the softer openers, I’m 6 years old, sitting in a pub trying to steal a sip of my old man’s pint of Albright. I’m wrestling a joystick at home playing Starship Command on the BBC Micro. Television springs to mind – Dr. Who, or every 80s sci-fi series you’ve ever listened to. All this, just like the enjoyment of listening to a pure dance record, comes as a bit of a surprise. The songs themselves don’t sound too much like those soundtracks, but it’s the vibe, the feeling they instil.

Terje is toying with us at this stage, goading us to join his party.

I age slightly as it progresses, with innocence turning to mischief. The music is laced with humour, like all the best dramas are. You can sense Terje grinning as we become engrossed in his parody. It gets more hilarious. ‘Strandbar‘ is like watching Eddie Murphy hurtling through Beverly Hills as Axel Foley, with Bill Bailey following him round with his piano clanking out happy chords, looking left and right, making jokes. Seriously, have a listen.

This doesn’t sound wholly like an ’80s album. Apart from an obvious reference – Bryan Ferry singing a cover of Robert Palmer’s Johnny and Mary – it can feel both earlier and later than that decade of excess. Yes there are lots of synthesisers but they don’t stab and the vibrato isn’t overdone. The drums are firm and certain, not overproduced or echoey.

As the songs get more serious, the experiences become fantasies of decadence. Mischief becomes rebellion. I’m downing pina coladas on Miami Beach. I’m watching Scarface, buying Hawaiian shirts trying to look like Tony Montana. I reach ‘Oh Joy‘ and ‘Inspector Norse‘, and that’s it, the revs are up. Morality goes, depravity prevails – I’m in a Tom Wolfe novel, spiralling out of control, SPEAKING IN CAPITALS, knowing it can only end one way.

wolfe

Inevitably, that’s where Todd Terje gets me to with this and I love it. My head is bouncing and my hips are shaking. I’m in my mid twenties wishing I was back in the late 80s. By the end I’m shouting – ”take me out, Todd! Take me ‘out-out’, 80s style!”

My wife and I once met a couple of Norwegians in a club in Berlin. We’d been for a quiet dinner, having what we thought was our final drink of the evening, when they appeared next to us at the bar, from nowhere. Like a car in the rear-view mirror when you thought the road was clear. They were eccentric. They drank cocktails, had wild hair and tastes that spanned the decades. They started chatting to us, buying us drink after drink, toying with us. We knew we had to make a decision. We could politely decline and allow them to pass by.

Or…I glanced down at my watch and saw it was bang on 11.15pm.


Any albums make you want to go ‘out-out’?? Feel free to comment below.

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