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Roza Terenzi - Modern Bliss Music Album Reviews

Playing spacey techno sounds off breakbeats and inventive percussion, the Australian producer’s debut album has a psychedelic undercurrent that’s more Burning Man than Berghain.

Outside of Australia, most people don’t know what a bush doof is, but they’re essential to understanding Roza Terenzi’s music. For a teenager growing up in Perth, a place often described as the most isolated city in the world, clubbing wasn’t a particularly attractive option, but bush doofs—that’s Aussie slang for outdoor parties in remote or rural areas—offered the chance to take a proper plunge into the trippy depths of electronic music.
Terenzi recently located to Berlin after spending a few years in Melbourne, but Modern Bliss, her debut album, is rife with what sound like subconscious echoes of the nights she spent dancing in the wilds of Western Australia. (Some of those echoes might also be linked to her father, a percussionist who’s been part of an electronic dub project called Beatworld since the late 1990s.) Words like “sci-fi” and “extra-terrestrial” are often used to describe Terenzi’s production—and lines can absolutely be drawn between her work and the spacey sounds of vintage Detroit techno and electro, as well as the Motor City-inspired output of Dutch outposts like Clone and Crème Organization—but Modern Bliss also has a hippieish, psychedelic undercurrent that’s more Burning Man than Berghain.

This vibe is most evident on “Modern Bliss,” which pairs a self-actualization mantra (“Exactly where I need to be/My thoughts create reality”) from Barcelona’s Ivy Barkakati with a floaty techno-trance framework reminiscent of Paul van Dyk’s 1996 anthem “Words.” Back then, ponderous self-empowerment monologues were a staple of trance and progressive house, and there’s something familiar and comforting about the track’s warm pads and subtle synth wiggles. “Total Eclipse” is another throwback, its blunted breakbeats and twirling acid lines forming a perfect soundtrack for blithely zoning out in the chillout room. The shambling, sun-soaked “Spiral” is an even headier trip, yet it’s “Jungle in the City” that provides the album’s most blissful moment. A cosmic chugger that cleverly nods to Terenzi’s father (it shares a title with the first Beatworld album), the song’s astral melodies glide atop gently tumbling tropical drum sounds.

Warm and fuzzy flourishes aside, inventive percussion is at the heart of Terenzi’s appeal. A skilled shapeshifter, she’s flirted with a variety of styles and tempos across her previous releases, but her forays into electro and breakbeat have become a calling card. Those crooked rhythms play a role in Modern Bliss as well, albeit a less prominent one. With its robotic beats and thick, rolling bassline, “Yo-Yo” is one of the album’s sturdiest cuts, with bright melodic stabs that tip the song into euphoria. Album closer “My Reality Cheque Bounced”—a playful collaboration with Planet Euphorique founder DJ Zozi (aka D. Tiffany)—isn’t a straight-up breakbeat track, but its snappy, stop-and-start drum pattern and rubbery bounce make it one of the LP’s most obvious party tunes.

Straight lines are in short supply on Modern Bliss, but “That Track (Rewired Mix)” is one of the few instances in which Terenzi adheres to dance music’s standard four-on-the-floor grid. With its squiggly melody and sassy vocal refrain, the thumping house tune jettisons the rave nostalgia, opting instead for something closer to the perky sounds of classic Chicago labels like Dance Mania. It’s one of the album’s most streamlined productions, but it’s also one of its most effective. Moreover, it’s proof that even when she deviates from what’s expected, Terenzi can still be devastatingly effective. The heart of Modern Bliss may reside in the bush doof, but its creator is capable of thriving just about anywhere.
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