Running Back turned 10 this year. It’s almost hard to believe, because the German label’s past few years have been just as dazzling as any of the younger upstarts. Tentatious, Colliding Stars, Gin Nation, Ragysh; its singles alone were momentous events. Accordingly, its latest is another testament to Gerd Janson’s A&R nous. It takes Aksel Friberg’s obscure and only record, a 150-copy, limited-edition 7″ released by his own Drifter Sthlm Musik back in 2010, and adds a huge drawcard: Todd Terje. The original only lasts for three minutes, so it’s no wonder Janson was keen to extend it, nor that he asked Terje to do so. To Be There With You bounces gaily along, its hyper-real chords and playful low-end allowing it to slot in perfectly alongside the creations of Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, and yes, Todd Terje. No surprise that Friberg hails from Stockholm, then. This very Scandinavian interpretation of disco is complimented by Kicki Halmos, who delivers girly vocals that feel more so about first kisses than sex.
Terje’s remix doesn’t do much more than stretch the jaunt out to eight minutes. And while he does this seamlessly, the Norwegian unavoidably exposes a flaw: “To Be There With You” doesn’t have that much to say. Hidden underneath the simple vocals, the track’s clustered snares, and colorful chords aren’t all that distinctive, and nor is there much sense of movement towards some can’t-be-missed culmination. Then again, these points may simply be the presence of expectation, looming large in the mind. In other words, if the very pleasant “To Be There” were to appear anywhere other than alongside the aforementioned titans of Ragysh etc., it would undoubtedly seem much harder to knock. And yet, “Viking Line,” the record’s third cut, doesn’t suffer from such comparisons. Taking a particularly boisterous look at electro, its leaps and plunges between fat, soloed bass and soaring synths reach a level of vibrant hysteria the rest of the record just can’t touch.