Trentemøller TrentemøllerInto The Great Wide Yonder
Thanks to the publication of “The Last Resort” (Poker Flat, 2006) we got to meet the real Anders Trentemøller: a man who could make the most hypnotic dance music of his time (for a moment, it seemed like the hallowed halls of techno were going to organise a war against James Holden), but who deep down was really not that interested in club music. Beneath his architecturally-complex hairstyle beats the heart of an emo-man, a Tim Burton fan, and of atmospheric indie-rock sounds, possibly even a frustrated soundtrack composer. And that first album said so in code: you know me for progressive songs like “Polar Shift”, but what I like is that fragile, landscaped electronic pop that stands your hair on end or makes you shiver. The Danish producer was clamouring for a freedom that the closed world of techno doesn’t usually grant when your records chart and you earn over €1,000 a remix. You have to keep squeezing the situation as long as possible and rob the bank, not try to go out on your own or show that you have concerns outside from the club. But it was because “The Last Resort” sold so well and was so popular –album of the year for various publications, lead by German Groove– that Trentemøller was able to escape from the vicious circle and finally do what he wanted.
“Into the Great Wide Yonder” comes four years later, with a band tour in the middle, from which some especially attractive segments were taken for the “Live Ep”, and with the handicap that it has appeared without any indication of what it might sound like: without remixes, without maxis, only with the advance of “Sycamore Feeling”, without a lot of margin to situate yourself and get ready to face the music. Because there is a disconcerting change here -although it may be logical within Anders Trentemøller’s special mind- that takes the album in a direction that isn’t exactly the natural continuation of the electronic detail and bucolic pop of “The Last Resort”. It is a rupture, a turn towards the Dane’s other area of interest -soundtracks and expressionistic songs- which he takes forward without a moment of doubt, and without looking back. At times, it seems as he were trying to be a student of the Ry Cooder of the arid guitar, or as if he were volunteering to do the music for a hypothetical remake that Tarantino (or anybody else) might considering of “Pulp Fiction”. “Silver Surfer, Ghostrider Go!” is the most disconcerting song of the lot, because it delves into the textures of surf music with a testimonial electronic residue that makes one think not only that Trentemøller is an unrepentant Tarantino fan –that’s a given– but also that he has taken the album with the same freedom and level of risk that Two Lone Swordsmen took with their conversion to post-punk and Gothic guitars after several albums of exemplary neo-electro music. The surf moment is only one, but it’s not the only song in which the magic spark of a guitar defines the temperature of the sound: there are sort of blues strums in “The Mash And The Furry”, an ambient beginning to the album in which the only direct relationship with his previous work is the high density of the sound, the baroque production (his progressive roots haven’t been torn out entirely in the end, it seems), and a play of rhythms (organic, with a real drum) bordering on the post-rock of groups like Explosions In The Sky, which is also the reference in “Past the Beginning of the End”, if we add the Lynch atmosphere to it, charged with electricity.
It’s necessary to bring up David Lynch’s name, and it’s important. “Into the Great Wide Yonder”, is a title that refers to open, wild space, lit by a pale moon or streetlights in the distance on a highway, and it would also aspire to be the incidental music for a new version of “Lost Highway”. It seeks to take your breath away and cause great uneasiness, like in “Shades Of Marble” or the gloomy “Häxan”, which alludes to the classic Danish silent film about the history of witchcraft, harking back to an aesthetic of long shadows, poetic horror, and grotesque expressionism. Or it tries to be that velvet music that is also in Angelo Badalamenti ’s style book , and which is materialised here in ballads, crossed with dream pop and shoegaze, like in “Sycamore Feeling” (very Hope Sandoval -the voice is the folk composer Marie Fisker), “…Even Though You’re With Another Girl”, and the torch song that closes the album, “Tide”. This last is a passionate song in which Anders Trentemøller consummates the last turn in the direction that he had always wanted to go, that of creating his own album open to a noir dystopia, like in his favourite films. It’s an album that wants to go in a precise direction: it wants to be his own “OK Computer” – doesn’t “Neverglade” sound like early Radiohead? I think that the effort is valid and has memorable moments, but it is still not mature for someone who, although he may not like it, masters technology better than the ins and outs of songs. He is caught in the middle, but this middle part is frankly attractive. The next time, he will have corrected mistakes, and then maybe David Lynch will call him up and ask him to work with him. That seems to be his desire, and it would be the best repayment. He’s not there yet, but he’s close.