Trentemøller – Lost
Label: In My RoomScore: 8.5/10
Listening to the opening minute of Lost, with its slow, naked guitar strings and mournful vocals, you would be forgiven for thinking that you might have accidentally purchased the wrong album. A collaboration with American slowcore legends Low, album opener The Dream is a haunting outing in atmospheric alt-rock in which not a single drum-machine or electronic bassline is to be found. It offers a blunt correction for anyone still under the impression that Anders Trentemøller is interested in producing the kind of pastoral techno and minimal that he was once known for; the iconic Trentemøller sound of The Last Resort is dead and buried.
Yet for those who have been following Anders’ career, Lost, the third album from the Danish producer, isn’t a complete artistic u-turn. His LateNightTale compilation from 2011 hinted towards his current sound; a dazzling menagerie of downtempo and naval-gazing rock music, all glued together with haunting synths, subtle bass and enigmatic electronic flourishes. Lost finds Trentemøller taking these clear external influences and making an album that draws them into his own, unique ways of producing that he has developed during his time as a club producer.
Across the twelve tracks that comprise Lost¸ traditional song structures win the day. What’s more the record is full of collaborations with guests from the world of rock music. Turns from lo-fi indie vocalists such as Jana Hunter of Lower Dens and Sune Rose Wagner of The Raveonettes, as well as the aforementioned track with Low, see Trentemøller take his deep and hypnotic approaches to building dance-floor cuts, and apply them to a live band; we get live basslines that sound like they could have been programmed on a computer, guitar riffs that repeat over and over like minimal loops, and drumming that is not just regular, but unnervingly metronomic, like a pulsating, organic drum-machine.
The final results are both impressive and varied; Constantinople is an urgent, organ-totting, psychedelic freakout, whilst Still On Fire is a heady five-minute instrumental jam that masterfully combines hair-raising manipulated electronics and incredible drumming. Later, Trails finds Trentemøller creating a hybrid of light percussion, tight drumming and intense, colourful electro modulations. Whilst techno purists might feel disorientated by the vocal-led numbers and the ‘performed rather than programmed’ approach to drumming and basslines, those who loved Trentemøller for his ability to create rich, hypnotic tapestries of sounds that were both intricate and simple, will find much to love here.
With albums that are heavy on the collaborations, there is always the risk that the album will lose something of the artist’s identity. Whilst for the most, this isn’t the case there are moments that Lost falls victim to this vice; the underwhelming Never Stop Running , which features Johnny Pierce, sounds closer to a track that The Drums might pen (albeit with some electronic accompaniment), whilst the aforementioned opener The Dream is perfectly fine but could have been lifted from any of the collaborating band’s recent albums. It’s these moments, where Trentemøller’s presence is nearly invisible, completely diluted by the presence of the guest talent he’s working with, that the album momentarily loses its coherence as a record.
For the most though, Lost works. Varied in its sounds, yet lucid in its narrative as an album, it’s an odyssey through the haunted imagination of its producer, a dimly-lit trip within the Lynchian world of Trentemøller’s artistic vision. The press release describes the record as a ‘fuck you’ to those who still want to box Anders within the confines of techno music, but the album is anything but aggressive in its temperament. Mournful and slow, it’s a beautiful, glacial crossover from the club sounds that once defined Trentemøller’s work to his guitar-led experimentation of recent years.