- Dance music has had a long love affair with adapting unlikely records into contemporary club hits. (It certainly didn’t start with JX’s Elvis remix, and can probably be traced back to Meco’s disco version of the Star Wars soundtrack). Todd Terje’s wrinkle on this tradition is one of subtlety—to coax songs into strange new shapes by making what seem like only minimal changes.
For this RVNG of the Nerds release, Terje calls himself Wade Nichols, which was the real name of cosmic's beloved Dennis Parker. Despite knowing this bit of disco trivia, though, I must admit to being utterly unfamiliar with the originals of the songs re-edited on this release. My excuse is that I’m not American and therefore my only exposure to classic rock radio is via movies and GTA4. Nerds feel free to flame me for this, but ravers probably won’t mind too much as it’s the end result that counts.
In this case, that means agreeable boogie psychedelia. The three songs here are the type to come up to you with a goofy grin, buy you a drink, and then tell you a really strange story. The closest modern reference point is probably DJ Harvey’s Map of Africa project. The horns and pianos on "Abracadobro" make it the most disco-y of the three, but the slide guitar and "yeah yeah" chants inject plenty of down-home country flavour.
"Horse with No Shame" takes on America's "Horse with No Name," a song I should probably know. It clip-clops along gently with straight but subtle kicks and a guitar loop, but the star of the show are the lyrics which come across like Carlos Castaneda written by Louis L’amour. Terje has this trick of making things sound wonderfully smooth and flowing, elevating the track beyond a relatively cheap gag into something quite special. Canned Heat's "On the Road Again," a sleazy chugger that sounds a bit like ZZ Top with falsetto vocals, also gets the same treatment and is transformed into something called "Wanda Rode Again."
It’d be easy to slam this release for being trendy recontextualations of previously taboo music. But despite his ironic moustache and porno alias, you do feel that Terje isn’t doing this to be arch, but rather from a genuine love for this music and a desire to make it relevant again, and it’s this that shines through.
A Wanda Rode Again
B1 Horse With No Shame