Will Todd Terje conquer the world? It seems within the realm of possibility, for one reason: It's all but impossible to not love the unassuming Norwegian's music. Born Terje Olsen (“Terje” is pronounced “Terry,” roughly, and his alias pays homage to none other than Chicago house prodigy and Master at Work Todd Terry), Terje got started in the early aughts with a slew of disco edits, remixes, and re-edits of well-known and not-so-well-known disco classics. Often stretched out to nearly 10 minutes in length and designed for maximum dancefloor satisfaction, these edits caught the ears of numerous tastemakers in the house and disco community. The Terje name became a badge of superlative quality.
It wasn't until 2011 that his first entirely original production appeared: Ragysh, released on German label Running Back. The eponymous title track, featuring an unmistakeable arpeggio that builds to an enormous, hands-in-the-air climax became an instant classic, and for good reason — it's the kind of stuff unforgettable dancefloor moments are made of. He followed it up next year with It's the Arps, which features a tune called “Inspector Norse” that does the unthinkable: it one-ups “Ragysh.” “Inspector Norse” is, in a word, perfect: it is pure joy for the ears, the mind, and the body. There is really nothing else like it.
His first album, It's Album Time, was released to wide acclaim last year. It features a number of his dancefloor cuts, including “Norse,” but also showcases his wide range as a producer and songwriter, including some jazzy, loungey, psychedelic and even poppy cuts. He has begun performing with a five-piece band called The Olsens, and his star is rising steadily, buoyed by raw, unvarnished talent. Let yourself love Todd Terje. It is impossible not to.
Joining him is Thundercat, a singer-songwriter from L.A. affiliated with “beat scene” incubator Brainfeeder, who crafts jazzy, elegant pop-funk music elevated by his beautiful voice. His blend of sounds and styles works remarkably well, and should make for the perfect complement to Terje's cosmic disco. A slew of DJs, headed up by veteran Mike Bee of local record shop Vinyl Dreams, will keep the party going in the club's three rooms.
Other worthy parties this week
Parameter presents PE K 02 with Mumdance at F8, 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 8. $5-$10; feightsf.com
Do you know about grime? No, not the filth that turns San Francisco sidewalks a brackish shade — the music genre, often prefixed with “U.K.” Born on British pirate radio, grime took the shuffled, syncopated rhythms of 2-step garage (another music genre that never quite made it to the States), reduced them to their minimal constituents, and paired them with percussive, tongue-twisting emcees, many of whom came from the “council estates” (read: housing projects) that encircle London. In short, it's some of the most exciting street-wise music to appear in the past 15 years, and America has mostly ignored it (although Kanye and Drake have made attempts to jump on its bandwagon, so that may soon change). Mumdance is one of grime's premier producers, whose career began after grime had become a fixture in Britain; accordingly, his work is more genre-bending than some of his peers. This night marks his San Francisco debut.
Electroluxx and Public Works present Hercules and Love Affair at Public Works, 9:30 p.m.-3 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9. $22-$25; publicsf.com
Hercules & Love Affair are something of an enigma in dance music. For starters, they're actually a band — led by a DJ (seriously). Andrew Butler began DJing in his native Denver, then moved to New York in the early aughts and recorded his first song with Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons), a disco-house thumper with Hegarty's sublimely searing vocals lending it powerful emotional weight. Over time, Hercules & Love Affair has become a bit less “disco” and quite a bit more “acid house.” The group's latest iteration is a threesome, with two vocalists; Belgium's Gustaph and the striking, androgynous Rouge Mary, lending vocal support to Butler on stage. Simply put, the group is a lot of fun, the kind of band that can open a newcomer's eyes to the wonders of dance music while getting a seasoned veteran to cut a rug, too. Rising minimal house Berliner Wankelmut opens, with Mike Gushansky and Ben Jorgens DJing.
Surface Tension 12 featuring Headless Horseman and Pod Blotz at F8, 10 p.m.-4 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9. $15-$20; feightsf.com
October! 'Tis the season. Fall is in the air; pumpkin spice abounds; the Headless Horseman is riding through town. No, we're not talking Sleepy Hollow: We're talking the mysterious masked techno producer from Berlin. (Aren't we always?) Headless Horseman surfaced two years ago, wearing all black, his face obscured by a long sheath of flowing black hair — a nice twist on a tired gimmick. The music, though, is the draw: dark, brooding techno filled with heavyweight percussion (straight out of a classic EBM record) and ghastly minor key melodies. It's gorgeous, elegantly produced stuff, designed for the dancefloor and beyond. This marks his San Francisco debut; supporting is L.A.'s Pod Blotz, the alias of artist Suzy Poling, who produces pitch-perfect, uncompromising modern industrial music with an emphasis on performance. Surface Tension DJs (disclaimer: your humble party columnist is one of them) will open and close the night.
Play It Cool Two-Year Anniversary featuring Fantastic Man at The Basement, 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 10. $10-$15; thebasementsf.com
Something's up in Australia. Quietly and with little fanfare, the continent-that-is-also-a-country has slowly but surely been building its own little niche within the house and techno underground on the strength of a spate of homegrown producers and DJs, most of whom are centered in the southern city of Melbourne. Fantastic Man, also known by his given name Mic Newman, is one such producer, who has put out an onslaught (almost 30 records in about seven years) of easy, inviting house grooves. (Australians seem to have an affinity for house and disco rather than darker shades of techno — no great surprise, given that the country seems to be perpetually sun-baked.) Fantastic Man will be out here to celebrate Play It Cool's two-year anniversary, which should make for a perfect pairing — his warm, melodic selections will match the party's care-free, inviting vibe. Play It Cool resident Matthew Favorites will warm up the floor.