Friday, 29 March 2013

Classic of our times: Todd Terje's "Ragysh", my Italo-Disco samsara & modern, norse, zen take on Italo-Disco

A break from Bowie for a while.

Just as old hometown (where I don't live anymore but spend a lot of time at, visiting mother at the old parents' shack) prepares to welcome Todd Terje (Limelight, Belfast, UK, Easter Monday) supported by the excellent local heroes Bicep and Space Dimension Controller ...

... here is what sounds to me like Terje's real classic of the times. Though it hovers easily around electro house environs, also electro disco register, maybe some would say norse electro funk house also (a more icey Daft Punk, I know I have to qualify that that may be a shallow comparison or others will think it), it also comes across as something of a techno classic to me actually.

From when the word techno meant, yes what would be identifable now to techno fans as techno - LFO and all that, but also this kind of thing too - techno-electro house. Meant a lot to what relates to what in the early world of Balearic house music maybe, I think.

A true classic of modern instrumental house, Ragysh.

Promoted in the video above is a recording of the vinyl pressing of Ragysh.

Because just because, I'm also sharing a share of the digital recording:

I think I'm going to miss Mr Terje. on Easter Monday - a few days away. Staying at my mother's, I've been trying to make it back home to the peninsula coast for weeks now, being ill. I tried to make it home to return for a hospital appointment (appointment was a few days ago). I happened not to be able to return home, stayed (as so used to, at home and not at home), and was not able to make the appointment for the procedure, not due to my ongoing illness, but an occasional sickness anyone can get which meant I couldn't have the procedure. Annoying. So now I want to go back as soon as.

Shine Productions, now the huge guys of the city's entertainment scene in most genres, once limited to a single house - techno club which became famous (Shine) have brought a lot of brilliant names to the city over the years. Especially in more recent years, opening up from just the large scale Shine club event, to The Stiff Kitten and in the last few months the redeveloped old city favourite, The Limelight (where I saw Simian Mobile Disco & Bicep before Christmas - unforgettable.)

While Belfast had not much of a regular, real house or dance music scene for many years, Shine Productions have changed that. It can seem strange to see numerous bookings in the same night. You can feel like someone might need to say to the promoters, this is Belfast, give us more of a chance. But I think it's just as much or more that things really may have changed.

On Easter Monday, while Todd Terje, Bicep & Space DC come to The Limelight, paces away Sasha is playing at The Stiff Kitten, and the Subculture team from Glasgow's Sub Club are lined up for the mega club at Shine itself. On the same night, from the same promoters. No lack of choice there for house fans in Belfast on Easter Monday. While, there is more going on (it may be hard to recognise the city, for those who knew it 15 to 25 years ago), for one thing something of good house in The Hudson I've forgotten, and DSNT present in Voodoo, for harder, minimal techno house fans (still not trance fast, I think, nor really trance, I think, but techno house, and not moddish d&b or snare-insanity-stadium-synth crap either maybe - would hope).

I had planned to go to see Sasha on Easter Monday. Though he's probably easier to find to see, by travelling somewhere, than Todd Terje. I still feel I owe myself seeing a Sasha show - since I went to see him with others at Shine a few years ago and missed nearly all of his set, listening to 808 State's set with SDC (in previous blog post "House, house, house, house house".) I was thinking I'm not ready for Todd Terje.

Some of his stuff, not just Inspector Norse, seems really some kind of close relation to Italo-disco (a very particular sensation of pre-"house" times, except if you mean early Chicago). Now, Italo-disco, well a whole set of it, can seem a strange beast for those who aren't prepared nowadays. It even could be hard going for those in the 1980s. The 80s, the main era of disco, and of serious, mature pop music, soul also being as serious as it could be true (very), R&B being serious, great, beautiful generally & better than previously, also with Adult Orientated Rock and Middle of the Road niches of grown-up music for pleasant but real, true times, minimalism getting well beyond lofts in modern classical circles. "Italo-disco could even be hard going in the 1980s?" That seems to suggest the beast is easier than it is. Those times with Italo were hard, they were hard, they were hard.

Yes, even then Italo-disco, a whole night of it, was something pretty specialist probably. It was serious, it seemed to me. One needed to take stock about consciousness. What it was (one's consciousness). What it was (Italo-disco). What the context / contexts was or were (going to a disco and all that meant, which doesn't really stop context wise in human life if you want to or can't help getting deep and don't have an automatic rear hill brake to stop you). What it all might mean. If these things may even come together in a meanginful or ordered or comfortable (that's really important) confluence at the one time. Or at least reserve themselves to do so later, after the event, rather than try to jacknife you existentially, even physically, off the dancefloor and off the globe.

(I know many might find themselves looking at me in a confused or worried fashion, thinking those are thoughts that might come up in life at times, maybe, yes, even with popular music appreciation. But Italo-disco? Isn't it just rather minimal, simple and fun?)

That's just my way of saying, you may need to be in the right frame of mind, or much more, the right existential vibrational level (even more, maybe), for certain music experiences. Italo-disco often struck me as one of these experiences. And with Italo, it seemed to have a cerebral focus for an existential identity, rather than just the tones and beats themselves. It was kind of seemingly logically daunting, suddenly ... about thinking lots and lots and lots of things. Things which, if you hadn't really thought them or concluded, need to be done extremely quickly. It could seem. It's not like an emotional requirement, or a feeling requirement - "I feel like this, like that". No, if you tried those options, you'd see how hard it was to be for Italo-disco.

I hope it's becoming clear this is (ahem, very likely) a personal angst experience description more than (um, probably, one doesn't know) any objective analysis of the general, particularly existential, significance in the essence of Italo-disco.

Disco should be fun. Italo-disco sounded serious to me. I could see fun, but only knowing it is serious first, and never discarding that.

To want to be serious fun, real, mature, grown-up fun. How can you push something serious to be fun, or something when you're trying to seem to be fun, to be serious then? Surely if you're even in a position that you're trying, attempting, maybe forcing somehow, the wise, wise Italo-disco animal is going to breathe down its nostrils violently quickly and blow you out of that cool little dancing shack quicker than you can say "Spagna knows", just for being in such bad faith in its presence.

But no, don't get so agitated and afeared and anxious, I suggest the Italo-disco animal does know, just like Spagna maybe. And would not blow you out of his or her magic, mature, sparsely glittering while linen and carbon lined realm of very worked out adults who seem to have a new Oriental style karma enlightenment of a sensible and loving and just downright successful kind, on and around the little dance floor.

No, he'd / she'd stroke you lovingly with his / her mature, benevolent, healing saliva dripping from his / her huge panting nostrils. (They're bigger than you. You wouldn't believe how tall and mature. ...seeming, anyway. ) As his dripping saliva intentionally massaged your sweating brow, he'd say, "O grab a cocktail, one. One can be as relaxed and unattatched as one desires. If I come to you, I come to you.". Then, after a pause that is enjoyable, "Do you think they know?", meaning the other dancers on the dancefloor, as one felt a nice, puffy feeling of love from the great, wise, mature animal, whispered somehow in a truly enlightened sounding fashion just before Italo-disco animal retreats swiftly, normally seeming, but I can't deny it, with a personal impression of importance to me, quietly, as if maybe engaged, as would be natural in one's life.

I loved Italo-disco. Yet wanted to love it more. Or me, I wanted to love me more directly in relation to Italo-disco experiences (and not really any other musical or disco experiences). Then I got over that second part: I was separate to Italo-disco, and I loved me as much as I could and I wasn't affected. Yet I wanted to love Italo-disco more, because the me, the subself or subselves whom I knew appreciated it most, flew away at the wrong times which ought to have been there and signifying at the right times.

Yet I wanted it, the kind of thing I thought Italo-disco was, to be less distinct from what the rest of life and the world was. Why should it be like this? It could even seem that Italo-disco, by not being a cultural phenomenon in what it is unintentionally, tragically made exactly just a cultural phenomenon. For the very reason alone that the rest of the world, the rest of the culture has flown away some time ago, it could seem. One learned in struggling with the normal seriousness of elements of life in Italo-disco and drowning over time in that struggle, that normal, strong, sensible, necessary seriousness in the rest of life, perhaps in the rest of the world, had diminshed, perhaps even disappeared. What ought to be a normal element of life, the Italo-disco outing, seemed may have been exposing the housing - the world and modern life - as a facade, a dying ember pretending to be in the time, alive, vibrant, natural, but, aaah, only pretending.

Perhaps within this awful, tragic, unexpected manhole or sticky, suffocating lacuna of life, I feel I need to invent that the Italo-disco animal significantly has a maturely compassionate, distinguishing, prising, valuing, even maybe encouraging nature, or at least impression.

In any case, however the animal may stroke you, in its saliva massage spa, or perhaps who knows what else, for me there could be no denying, if you take yourself and this life in this place fully seriously, Italo-disco seems serious. Not a mere passing of the time, unless you happened to be in a certain way. I used to believe I felt jealousy of imagined Italians, who I imagined either had this way available for most times, or could conjure it easily from far reaching climes to the here and now at will.

Quickly returning to my decision that I would probably try to see Sasha finally on Easter Monday, and not Terje who I was associating in good part with a new, nordic Italo-disco upated to electro house. Though I began to kind of subconsciously form into someone curious for this. When it had seemed I could never muster enough seriousness, I began to think both that it was coming and that it was not so required. And further, if a good deal of Terje's stuff could seem like a close relation to Italo-disco, it's kind of the best part, because it is Zen calm Italo-disco. Yes, Zen calm Italo-disco did exist in the past in small amounts, maybe rationed as if a nectar from the gods. If the artist is signficantly steeped in Zen calm in his Italo-disco relation, things should be all right anyway.

I want to add quickly, importantly, I know Todd Terje may not be an actual Italo-disco producer, really. (Added: Is that true, though? I've just bought a few more of his things, listening as I write, including Lanzarote, and in good part it sounds pretty like Italo stuff to me).

I know that some (or many) people won't find Terje's stuff reminiscent of Italo-disco much or at all. One thing is to say that what I don't mean by Italo -disco is euro poppy, maybe slower hi-nrg, typically pub night out guys crooning, 80s disco that was popular in many Italian discotheques. Another thing to say is that I think I'm thinking about a more specialist club 80s electro Italo-disco style - the Italo electro from before house (while probably including poppier stuff like Spagna, but Spagna was certainly steeped in a kind of esoteric Italo-disco ethos, it seemed, rather than just being a poppy disco queen). There definitely seemed an esoteric feel to the kind of music I'm thinking of (and I can't remember examples since most of 30 years, I don't really think I knew the titles then anyway) The last thing to say, which maybe ought to be the first, is that, perhaps, again as I have before and maybe do reasonably often, I take some notion - here Italo-disco - and go off on a personal tangent. I am thinking of what some of it meant to me, maybe ignoring the rest of it - maybe the most of it!!! I don't know.

"If it be now 'tis not to come, if it be not now, yet it will come."
Coping with life and Italo-disco.

If you want to hear one example of one kind of thing which could be found in old Italo-disco scenes, listen to Terje's Inpsector Norse. Of course, I think, from that track and maybe the odd other one, I must have partly worked myself up into believing something that isn't really so relevant. Of course, just to enjoy that itself and then make some kind of strange online blog post fest out of the willed nostalgic semi-neurosis, perhaps. It may be - if ya can't be a drama angst queen the odd time, if ya haven't mustered it once anyway for the year, ya have to drag it out somehow. If not all of the time.

A quick ending, so I thought I'd changed my preference, to want to go see Todd Terje on Easter Monday, and again, think about following Sasha somewhere else, still (after those years!). For what it's worth, I say, because I think I'm far too sick, and need to go home and spend 3 weeks in bed! And that doesn't bother me. I feel so bad, it sounds like heaven actually. And the thought that Mr Terje (who's stuff I don't know so well yet, I find any serious fandom hard nowadays) and Sasha (who I haven't really examined for a long time) would be happily playing into the night air when I am tucked up in bed beside the sea tantalising perhaps. Maybe it could be a rare night when the experience of the sea waves, having come to the highest point, may be audible and there is no wind to sound also to smother the sound of the sea, relaxes me, inspires me, settles me, gives me healing feelings. (Just when I know I am not well enough to try what could really harm me.) Something else happening in the night air.

Perhaps just the thoughts of the subtly, esoterically, but copiously benevolent, wise and caring Italo-disco animal (or the iced zen version) make well enough for to bring me around to some kind of life again, in some time, without the maybe splendid context of Italo-disco experienced itself, in an enlightened, mature fashion or not at all that. His / her care, I hope, sails me.

Conceptual portrait of Iced Zen Italo-disco animal, sex not known
(which is not the reason for the question marks)

Buy "Ragysh" by Todd Terje

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