Album Reviews

Trentemøller – Lost

(In My Room) UK release date: 23 September 2013

Trentemøller - Lost Danish producer Anders Trentemøller became something of a word of mouth sensation with the immersive, inward looking atmospheres of 2006’s excellent The Last Resort. He then branched out into less solipsistic territory, incorporating indie-rock dynamics on 2010’s Into The Great Wide Yonder. Lost further develops that trend, largely through collaborations with vocalists drawn from the likes of Low, The Drums and The Raveonettes.

As has become customary for him, Lost is a meticulous and often mesmerising work that achieves a curious and unforced hybrid between two superficially different musical worlds. That being said, it is perhaps starting to feel as if Trentemøller might be losing something of his own individuality through this ongoing process. This is a protracted album centred largely on song based material, and its rather inconsistent levels of success rely heavily on the quality of the melodies and textures, and on the strength of communication from the vocalists.

It starts brilliantly and surprisingly with The Dream, a lush ballad that features Low. In fact, so characteristic is it of that languid, beautiful band that it could easily have appeared on one of their own albums (it could be an outtake from their brief dalliance with electronica on Drums And Guns). Yet those instantly recognisable vocal harmonies are sumptuous and impossible to resist, and they mesh effortlessly with Trentemøller’s thoughtful, unobtrusive and subtle accompaniment.

Candy Tongue, with Danish vocalist Marie Fisker, has a somewhat affected but nonetheless entrancing sensuality but Never Stop Running doesn’t really do enough to take Johnny Pierce of The Drums outside of his comfort zone. These tracks feel strangely self contained, with tentatively suggestive melodies that feel a little incomplete, never quite reaching a destination. Trentemøller remains completely in control of sound and mood however, incorporating searing electric guitar against an otherwise dreamy and sugar-coated backing on Candy Tongue.

The instrumentals Still On Fire and Trails offer a familiar brutalism and insistence, yet there is a sense here that Trentemøller might be operating on autopilot. The former seems to draw from some comforting reference points, with hints at Neu in particular. The latter suffers from some fairly predictable textural shifts in its opening half. Thankfully, it later shifts into something altogether stranger and more beguiling, a charming arpeggiated synth line emerging from the fuzz and then ushering in an uplifting, powerful change of gear.

Whilst it feels like an attempt to be contemporary and fresh, much of Lost actually feels like a nostalgic and selective gaze into the past. Also, sometimes the constant drive to assert indie rock tropes feels limiting. The dreamy, hallucinatory vocals of River Of Life are slightly undermined by the chugging guitar lines that needlessly anchor it to the ground. It’s when Trentemøller veers further away from the electro-indie template that things really start to get interesting. The haunting, Gamelan-esque percussion of Morphine results in an altered state that is at once transporting and ominous, whilst Come Undone (featuring Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino) is a delicate, fragile vision.

In the album’s final stretch, we’re on more obvious ground, with the pulsating rock-meets-disco frazzle of Constantinople. As a twisting, turbulent finale, Hazed attempts to sum up Lost’s rambling sense of adventure, incorporating slow building sheets of sound as well as moments of unbridled energy. It is followed by a real surprise in more ways than one – an Erik Satie-esque secret track consisting of cute, slightly warped-sounding piano chords that suggests this album’s more vulnerable side could have been further explored.

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