Ice Cold: Trentemøller Steps Out
- Words: David Hemingway
"Making The Last Resort (Poker Flat) was a very personal thing for me," asserts Anders Trentemøller of his debut long-player. "It was like therapy. The music on the album reflects my life, my thoughts, my needs, my insecurities, my longings. It was a very lonely process."
This loneliness is hard to reconcile with Trentemøller's discography of techno and tech-house bangers, which includes a gaggle of tracks for imprints like Naked, Tic Tac Toe, and Cassagrande, as well as astounding remixes for the likes of Röyksopp, Unai, The Knife, and Mathias Schaffhauser. Trentemøller dances to beat of his own drummer, literally–"If you can't dance to the music you do, it's not good enough," he states–but he's equally ambivalent about the throbbing techno at which he excels (and with which he so frequently thrills). Trentemøller describes The Last Resort as explicitly "not for the dancefloor" and has even implied that he actually prefers rock to dance music, maintaining that the latter has a limited emotional palette.
"Let's face it: Dance music is made for the dancefloors to make people dance," says the youthful Dane, who name-checks Mazzy Star, M. Ward, The Smiths, The Cure, Radiohead, and Slowdive as influences. "Nothing wrong with that but, as far as I see it, if you want music that goes a little deeper, you have to turn to other genres. Do you put a dance track on when your girlfriend has just left you?"
The Last Resort isn't actually an out-and-out rejection of the dancefloor, but it plays like a lovely dance album that's had much of its euphoria sapped by long, cold, Nordic nights. "I don't think that living in Copenhagen has a particular impact on me–maybe more the whole Nordic vibe, the nature here in Denmark and Sweden," explains Trentemøller. "It's a vibe or feeling that is hard to describe but there is a certain melancholic mood to most old Nordic folk music that I like; [and to] the big open spaces and the often violently stormy and rainy weather. I hope you can hear some of that atmosphere in The Last Resort."
The Last Resort is accompanied by a bonus CD of Trentemøller's singles for Poker Flat and Audiomatique, the most gripping of which are collaborations with Berlin-based Brit Richard Davis on vocals. Davis–a sometime-Swayzak vocalist–frequently evokes Underworld, but in his work with Trentemøller he inverts that group's voyeurism and last-train-home rapture into introspection and melancholia. For example, his vocal take of "Always Something Better" is adorable, yet seethes with the resentment and umbrage of a recently defunct relationship.
"The tracks were really complex, and getting my head around the melodies and structures was quite tricky," says Davis of the collaboration, which happened almost entirely over email. "I suppose [I came] to the conclusion that I was going to have to write something pretty interesting to make what was a great instrumental track into a great song. The music was already carrying a lot of emotion. It was really dramatic stuff and I felt it was necessary to try and get a sense of drama in the singing and the lyrics."
This drama–mixed with the aforementioned Nordic cool–combines to create a record that, at its most removed from the disco, recalls Icelandic atmospherists Sigur Rós. "I didn't know the band but now I've heard their albums and I can hear that we have some of the same sound picture," admits Trentemøller. "So now''m actually really into the music they do. It's funny. Maybe it's the Nordic vibe... again."
Of Sound Mind
Trentemøller talks music technology.
XLR8R: What piece of technology has had the most impact on your music?
AT: No doubt, my sequencing program: Acid Pro 6.0. I make all my music in that program and in Sound Forge. Acid Pro is so logical and very easy to use.
If money were no object, what piece of music-making equipment would you buy?
Making good music is not at all about having the money to buy the newest gear. It's all about having good ears and trusting them. I would still choose Acid! Now it sounds like I'm sponsored [by them].
Talk us through the making of a track.
It varies. Mostly, it starts with a vibe or feeling I have. I sit down with a simple melodic instrument, like a piano, and try to capture that feeling in a melody or atmospheric groove. Then I program the basic drums and bass, and I just go from there and see where the music takes me. I have many ways of trying to reach what I have inside my head and often it ends up very differently than expected.
Do you have a particular m. o. when creating remixes?
A remix is not as personal as a track of your own but I don't have a particular way of doing remixes. I always look [for] a good melody in the original–it can be the lead vocal of course, [or] a synth theme–then I basically start all over again and build up a brand new track. Sometimes I do several versions before I'm satisfied. With my remix of Röyksopp's "What Else Is There?" I made seven totally different versions before I came up with the final remix. I have to be 100% satisfied myself before I deliver a mix.
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