‘Space disco’ is a weird tag because the atmosphere its music is meant to invoke is right there in its name: Space. Space is an unknown where we’re able to comfortably and unknowingly project our expectations of the future ideal (a trivial past time in 2012, to be sure). But as some bygone cosmic rockers once lamented, “space does not care.” Do you think, one day, there’ll be dance club satellites that orbit Earth while its patrons dance their butts off to music like Lindstrøm, Black Devil Disco Club, Holy Ghost!, and Todd Terje while the luminescent blue pearl of Earth stares longingly up at the gyrating forms turned coagulated silhouette by the sun? God, I hope so. But by the time humans develop extraterrestrial dance capabilities I fear your KORGs and Casios will be deteriorating relics and Scandinavia will be under water or something. Space disco is a (often prolonged) vacation to the future through the lens of the past. It’s an extra layer of escapism and imagination smeared onto the dance floor. And Terje’s newest EP, It’s The Arps, isn’t fussy about wiping the floor clean.
After a five year absence following a stint of 12″s for Soul Jazz and Full Pup, Terje reappeared last year with the attention-wrangling 4-track Ragysh EP – a release refreshingly unabashed about its patient, long-form cosmic warp. It’s the Arps arrives not a year later and finds Terje approaching his heavily-arpeggiated disco syncopation with a little less abstraction and little more impulse and color. Ragysh often felt like it had far away places it wanted to show you without much in the way of hurry to get there, opting to take the scenic route full of slowly cresting synths and distant, subaquatic textures. It’s The Arps is more than eager to get to the point, but doesn’t exactly skimp on the sights either.
Opener “Inspector Norse” feels like a track built for a mid-set build-back-up. Its syncopated skip bassline clings fiercely to the marching 4/4 plop and crisp handclaps. Off-center house keys lay comfortably on top and an infectiously curious, almost-improvised shifting synth melody flits around the track. It’s the type of cut that feels unassuming, like maybe it’s about time to go for a breather before you realize you’re caught in its throttling groove. And that’s all before it goes supernova half-way through.
“Myggsommer” isn’t much more than a chirping interlude between the disc’s floor-bound banger and its more intergalactic-aspiring Italo workouts. “Swing Star (Part 1)” submerges itself in an icy bath of overlapping arpeggios racing, 160 BPM, toward a weightless conclusion. Part 2 is the most recognizably Terje as we found him on Ragysh, but there’s a touch of unnerved earnestness fixed to the unhesitant sawtooth bass line as cascading synthesizers drip down the track’s confines like squiggles of rain down a fogged window. The whole EP feels weightless and aloft as if we have a clear view of the blinding blue gap between its heights and depths. And it speaks to the range Terje is able to travel that a whole page of his career feels turned in less than a year’s time.