By Hailey Nuthals, Arts Editor
We’ve seen some pretty funky vinyl DJ’s in New York’s own scene with the likes of DJ Jonathan Toubin and his friends, but nothing quite as funky – or as prolific – as Todd Terje. Ranked as one of the world’s best disco DJ’s, he’s more than a household name. Recently, he did a collaboration album with his live band (called The Olsens), called “The Big Cover-Up.” The whole thing is a collection of covers of old disco classics. It’s hardly some dusted-off relic from your parents’ era, though; “The Big Cover-Up” comes out with chaos pads glowing and the sort of energy that made people fall in love with disco in the first place.
The album opens with “Firecracker,” which immediately sets the tone for fun. (As I played it loudly for my apartment on a Friday night, it was quickly pointed out that it feels somewhere between a video-game backing track and Japanese folk music.) The original track is, as Pitchfork puts it, “a cheeky approximation of Japanese court music,” penned by pianist and Tiki artist Martin Denny, has seen many covers in its own time, primarily by Japan’s own Yellow Magic Orchestra. Terje’s version loses none of the cheek and brings it into the twenty-first century with wink and a smile.
“Baby Do You Wanna Bump” gets, if possible, even cheekier and sillier. The low, almost monotone man’s voice asking if baby, do we want to bump, feels wonderfully odd and inviting for all its strangeness. The softly whispered “chic-aahs” recall the goofier moments in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” and the track itself does wonderful homage to its original version by Boney M and its subsequent remix by disco artist François Kervorkian.
Energy stays miraculously humorous and playful throughout the album, continuing through “Disco Circus” and “La Fete Sauvage.” The remixes of each track that follow only give an added layer of intrigue to the whole act, making it feel not like a repeat of the album but a revisit of it. Colorful sounds from all over the globe combine for utterly dance-able tracks in a way that we’re certain only Terje and his Olsens could have pulled off with such grace. Just as the album art would suggest, it’s colorful, gleeful, and an absolute party of a time.
Todd Terje & The Olsens will be playing at their self-styled music festival with Lindstrøm and Jaga Jazzist at 1260 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn on July 29. Stream their album “The Big Cover-Up” on Spotify or SoundCloud. Find Todd Terje on Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud | Web.