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Todd Terje – Ragysh review

Those who’ve been watching Terje Olsen’s progress over the last decade may have become frustrated at the lack of original material from the Norwegian disco don. Since debuting in 2004 with the brilliant “Eurodans” – perhaps still one of the finest examples of loose-limbed, warehouse-friendly nu-disco – the tache-sporting DJ/producer has released just four more original compositions (and one of those was a live jazz remake of “Eurodans”). For a man of his talents, it’s incredibly frustrating.

Given this slow work-rate, it’s perhaps no surprise that there’s been much interest in this four-track EP for Gerd Janson’s Running Back imprint. Predictably, it’s a bit good, and arguably his best original work yet. While there’s nothing as melodically “big” as “Eurodans”, there’s clear demonstration of progression – both musically and in the quality of production.

“Ragysh” itself is the most obviously impressive of the four cuts. Like much of the best dance music, it is devilishly simple. For much of its nine-minute duration it offers little more than a rock-solid, head-nodding, house-not-house groove built around his trademark disco percussion and a nagging electronic riff. But then the breakdown comes in, introducing us to a raft of delightfully cosmic melodies that dart around excitedly, propelling the track towards a gasping climax. Orgasmo-house anyone? “Ragysh” has an alter ego in “Bonysh”, a self-consciously stripped-down drum track that ekes maximum thrills from simple switches between ever-more druggy percussive patterns.

The real highlight, though, is the more playful “Snooze4Love” – a delightfully Balearic concoction that bubbles excitedly with electronic gorgeousness. Its shuffling rhythms and minimalist approach to melody suggest that Terje has been studying German electronic music, but it still sounds much more Oslo than Berlin. The digital release also includes a sublime downtempo remake, which dubs out the glistening electronics and adds dreamy guitar phases for maximum Balearic effect. It sounds like an otherworldly jam between Pat Metheny, Steve Reich and Lindstrom, which is no bad thing.

Matt Anniss