REVIEWS ON THE FLY: EMA’s digital critique and Todd Terje’s celebratory wonder

Todd Terje
Todd Terje

EMA’s sophomore LP and Todd Terje’s long-gestating debut both saw release this week. But just how good were they?

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EMA | ARTIST

The Future’s Void | ALBUM

Matador | LABEL

8 April 2014 | RELEASE DATE

7.8 | 10

The future’s void. It’s seen right there, in the cover art for Erika M. Anderson’s sophomore LP. Her face, obscured by an LED screen, encapsulates Anderson’s fears and understanding of the technological age; it’s harder to connect on a personal level, but it also redefines our perceptions of community to be something more global and inclusive. “I remember when the world was divided / By a wall of concrete and a curtain of iron,” she sings on the jagged lead single and opening track, “Satellites”. We tore down the wall, she seems to be saying, only to build a new, invisible one in its place.

The album is somewhat unevenly sequenced, with the first half being (mainly) scorching noise-pop with the latter half being quiet singer-songwriter. The exception during the first half is the stunning “3Jane,” which melodically is one of the most gorgeous things EMA has come up with thus far. Lyrically, the song is a bit on-the-nose at time, but the blood she spills on the track is real.

Among the more raucous numbers, the closest thing to a winner is “Cthulu,” whose latter half is aided by Anderson’s monotonous vocal tone over a wall of sound. “When She Comes” is a wholly enjoyable listen, while never quite making a discernible impact. That’s the major problem with an otherwise exciting listen: the songs sound great coming out the speakers, but once they’re done, it’s hard to recall exactly what they sounded like.

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Prime Listening

Todd Terje | ARTIST

It’s Album Time | ALBUM

Olsen | LABEL

8 April 2014 | RELEASE DATE

8.3 | 10

Todd Terje built his career on the back of great remixes and edits, and until recently it seemed that would be his career’s path. But after the glowing success of “Inspector Norse” in 2012, as well as the excellent “Strandbar (disko)” edit released in 2013, Terje appeared more than capable of captivating audiences with original material. It’s Album Time is the cathartic release of years of build-up, one of the best electronica-music albums you’re likely to hear in 2014.

The wide array of genres Terje pulls from is less an awkward misstep and more of a well-curated selection. Songs such as “Svensk Sås” and “Alfonso Muskedunder” are self-aware enough for their craziness to be endearing as opposed to being off-putting. And that courtesy is only granted due to Terje’s wonderful framing and timing, catching each song at their most assertive. The real showstopper comes when he enlists Roxy Music’s Bryan Ferry to perform vocals on the cover of “Johnny and Mary” (orig. Robert Palmer). It’s the only moment where Terje takes the time to slow down, and what he does with just a moment of introspection is astounding. His production touches accent Ferry’s stunning performance, honoring the original in the best possible way. Throughout It’s Album Time, Terje achieves a similar goal. He shines light on the incredible ways humans have interacted with music throughout the years, while channelling it into something entirely new and invigorating.

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