Trentemøller: The Trentemøller Chronicles

Though clearly a Trentemøller retrospective is premature (given that he's only released one full-length album, The Last Resort), let's not allow a minor detail to sidetrack us from appreciating the many things—and there are many—that recommend the two-disc The Trentemøller Chronicles. Comprised of tracks that have only been available on vinyl or on compilations, as well as some new and exclusive songs, The Trentemøller Chronicles weaves originals into a tastefully understated fifty-five mix in the first half and presents a robust selection of remixes during the diverse, forty-minute second.

Simply labeling disc one's offerings dance music errs in exaggerating one dimension (even though an occasional track does emphasize rhythm over all else); calling it IDM is similarly misleading. More precisely it's sophisticated, deeply textured electronic music that generally gravitates towards melancholy drama, even at times gloominess. There's nuanced dub-techno (“The Forest”), a melancholy piano-based setting (“Klodsmajor,” ‘clumsy fellow' in Danish), harder-hitting techno (“Snowflake,” “Gush”), a sweeping, string-drenched meditation (“Blood in the Streets”), and even old-school acid-techno (“Physical Fraction,” “Rykketid”). The disc's sole remix, Klovn's “McKlaren,” is as melancholy and nuanced as Trentemøller's originals and could just as easily pass for one. Not surprisingly, the highlights are two darkly steaming funk-techno anthems, “Moan” and the equally storming “Always Something Better,” which feature fabulous vocal turns by Ane Trolle and Richard Davis, respectively.

As a remixer, the Danish producer tends to imprint himself gently upon others' material, with subtle enhances discernible but the integrity of the originals largely preserved. His signature may be more subtly woven into the fabric of disc two's offerings, but the collection itself doesn't suffer when tracks by artists like Röyksopp are featured. The group's “What Else Is There,” is perhaps the disc's strongest treatment, in no small part due to the seductive allure of the lead vocal by The Knife's Karin Dreijer but the tune's epic arrangement (harps, strings) doesn't hurt either. At the same time, occasionally an original's so definitive, the very idea of a makeover seems pointless (The Knife's “We Share Our Mother's Health”). The Blacksmoke Organisation's rocking “Danger Global Warming” only needs a cowbell to complete its slinky, gutter-funk vibe, and “Konichiwa Bitches” by rising star Robyn surprises with its ‘50s guitar twang and its Missy Elliott vocal riffing (her influence also creeps into the hammering techno of Sharon Phillips' “Want 2 / Need 2”). Though the set's generally extroverted, things turn deliciously mellow and soulful on Filur's digi-dubby “You and I.”

In all, the only questionable thing about the release is, as mentioned, the idea of an overview at this early stage in Trentemøller's career. Filled as it is with such a solid and diverse collection of material, the release itself, however, surely earns its recommendation.

December 2007