Beloved dance music figures, 1980s trailblazers and local music royalty close out 2017.

Todd Terje
This Norwegian producer came to fame crafting impeccable dance edits of songs from the Bee Gees to Roxy Music.

The chart-topping single Inspector Norse pushed him to even greater heights of popularity. The success of his debut long-player, It’s Album Time led to the creation of his live band, the Olsens.

His breakout original production Ragysh typifies his approach. Bubbling, euphoric synths are finally undercut by a cheeky Heart of Glass sample. Even in moments of ecstasy there’s still time for a giggle. Terje clearly doesn’t take himself too seriously, and thank God for that.

Anyone sad about missing out on Meredith Music Festival this weekend can console themselves with this show.

Todd Terje and the Olsens play the Forum, December 10.

Chapter Music 25
Australia’s independent music scene quite simply wouldn’t be the same without Perth-founded, Melbourne-based record label Chapter Music.

Without the dedication of the label’s founders Ben O'Connor and Guy Blackman we wouldn’t have seminal releases from Twerps and Dick Diver. Releases by the label frequently land on critics’ best-of lists.

Synth-poppers, punks and dance producers have all found a home at Chapter Music. The only pre-requisites for O'Connor and Blackman appear to be passion, raw talent and an off-kilter creative spirit.

Despite record sales plummeting industry wide, the label has just turned 25. If you even for one second care about independent music in this city, head along and give Chapter Records the joyous quarter-century birthday celebration it deserves.

Chapter Music 25 featuring Totally Mild, the Stevens and more, takes place at the Tote Hotel December 16.

ESG
As one of the most sampled bands of all time, ESG’s tight, dry, uncluttered compositions backed by funk-fuelled drum breaks make for perfect sampling fodder. Their song UFO has been pilfered by hundreds of artists, particularly hip-hop producers. It’s on Party and Bullshit by The Notorius B.I.G. and the Beastie Boys, J Dilla and DJ Shadow have all played with the track. Heck, even Nine Inch Nails have messed with it.

Despite all this the band have remained in relative obscurity and have received little financial compensation, as discussed on their 1992 EP Sample Credits Don't Pay Our Bills.

Aside from providing a case study on the limits and ethics of copyright law and fair use, ESG’s music is fun as hell. Founded by four sisters and their best mate, the band began in late-’70s New York when breakdancers were throwing down to Talking Heads side projects and punks were stealing licks from funk bands.

The sisters have said this is last time they will tour Australia, don’t miss this truly unique act. They’ll be supported by the ever-colourful NO ZU, probably Australia’s most direct descendants of the band’s sound.

ESG and NO ZU play the Night Cat December 9¬ to 11.

Kllo
Local act Kllo have a dreamy take on R&B featuring slow kicks and claps, sensual vocals from singer Chloe Kaul. Undertones of glitchy beats and clever additions from Simon Lam tie the songs together. Garage and 2-Step breaks can arrive jubilant but are often underpinned by a sense of yearning.

The band has just returned to Australia for the last leg of their Backwater album tour. Ones to watch.

Kllo play the Corner Hotel December 15.

The Human League
Don’t You Want Me is one of the defining songs of ’80s British synth-pop. A reasonable argument can be made that every English speaker above the age of 20 – and likely millions more non-English speakers – can sing the line “You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar.”

The song came from Dare The Human League’s breakout 1981 record. It’s one of the great easy-to-come-by steals in record-store dollar bins across the globe. Don’t turn your nose up at its ubiquity, it bangs start to finish.

Although typifying the big shoulders and overzealous eye makeup of ’80s pop, the band started off as a deeply experimental industrial synth band. It’s difficult to overstate how much resistance music like this faced from a scene dominated by hard-rocking guitar bands in the late ’70s.

Electronic musicians from the underground to the top of the charts owe a massive debt to the Human League’s pioneering synth experiments.

The Human League play the Palais Theatre December 13.

Red Bull Sound Select Presents Nun, Jonny Telafone, V and Honey
A favourite Melbourne musical memory was forged at Melbourne Music Week 2016. Dark synth-punk band Nun are playing at the State Library when things escalate under the Reading Room's glorious dome. The band’s singer, Jenny Branagan, had stepped down from the synth-laden central podium and began malevolently pacing around its circumference. An unfortunate girl (possibly hoping for a dance off, probably just being a dick) jumped into Branagan’s path only to be steamrolled with a brutal, right footed roundhouse kick and smack to the head. No doubt this random act of violence was one of the most punk things to ever happen in a heritage-listed building.

Nun have been one of Melbourne’s best doom acts for a couple of years now. They’ll be supported among others by Jonny Telafone, who’ll be doing his best to keep it creepy on the night.

In a perfect example of the previously mentioned Chapter Music’s diverse, forward-thinking tastes, the line-up has been picked by the label’s founders Guy Blackman and Ben O’Connor.

Red Bull Sound Select takes place at the Northcote Social Club December 21.

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