In the early 2000s, Norway experienced a musical renaissance of sorts, from the electro-confections of Annie to the groggy prog-disco of Lindstrøm & Prins Thomas. Somewhere between the two resides producer Terje Olsen, who hails from the small town of Mjøndalen and re-jiggered the name of NY house producer Todd Terry for his own nom de plume, Todd Terje. Emerging in 2004, Terje drew from both Annie’s pop sensibilities and L&PT’s penchant for expansive space disco grooves, amassing a catalog of remixes, catchy disco edits (of everyone from Paul Simon to obscurities like Sam-Jam’s “Dance and Chant”) and a string of summertime staple singles.
All those strands culminate in a joyous climax on Terje’s first long-player, It’s Album Time. Fidgety, cheeky and gleeful in equal measure, Terje’s debut showcases his penchant for making exhilarating tracks that convene on the G-spot of house, Balearic, nu-disco and Italo. He’s also able to detour into synth noodling (“Leisure Suit Preben”), Miami Vice-tropical grooves (“Preben Goes To Acapulco”) and whiz-bang Afro-Cuban rhythms (“Svensk Saas”) yet still make it all sound of a piece. Previous singles “Strandbar” and “Inspector Norse” remain the centerpieces, but the album conveys a sense of ecstatic joy usually reserved for eight-year-olds who spin themselves dizzy.
But the album’s most stunning track is also its slowest and most composed: Terje’s collaboration with Bryan Ferry. The duo cover Robert Palmer’s new-wave hit “Johnny and Mary” with Terje slowing his synths to a pacing redolent of Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away.” The original told of a young, star-crossed couple, yet with Ferry’s careful phrasing and weathered croon, the song now details a couple who might’ve just celebrated their jade wedding anniversary, still in love yet still at odds. For a new artist, it reveals a startling sense of craft that suggests Terje has already matured as an album crafter. Judging by the strength of It’s Album Time, fans may now eagerly anticipate each successive Terje album as much as they did his singles.