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Trentemøller - The Last Resort

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Artist: Trentemøller

Album: The Last Resort

Label: Poker Flat

Review date: Nov. 21, 2006

Making a good full-length house or techno CD is a difficult project, full of potential pitfalls. For one, the music is being asked to serve a very different purpose than usual: the qualities in a tune that will make a crowded room go apeshit aren’t necessarily the same as those that warrant repeated listening on one’s stereo. In attempting to compensate for the living room, many producers decide to change tactics drastically, which often draws them into taking on overambitious projects in unfamiliar musical territory. (The best long players in this genre actually tend to be those with just a few well-considered adjustments in style.) Compounding the problem is a related tendency among producers to view a CD as an opportunity to create what they hope will be their lasting work, something more than “just” dance music – as opposed to their 12"s, which DJs will usually play out for only a season or so. This impulse is also dangerous, as it leads many producers to adopt more conventional musical values and methods while abandoning the qualities that made their work good in the first place.

Sadly this is exactly what's happened with the highly anticipated The Last Resort, which can only be considered a massive disappointment. Anders Trentemøller, its creator, started out as a member of the Danish live house outfit Trigbag before more recently emerging as a solo artist with a string of highly successful productions and remixes. This previous work has consisted largely of tightly-wound club stormers, but here he takes a regrettable turn towards downtempo, abandoning the lean functionalism of his singles and aiming instead for a widescreen maximalism. Trentemøller himself has talked about the album in terms of a film score, and in fact most of this music does recall far too many soundtracks in its pandering emotionalism and unsuccessful attempts at epic sweep. There are some convincing tracks here, particularly the creepy duo of “Vamp” and “Evil Dub,” and in a few other moments it manages to achieve a sort of strung-out beauty, but most of the album drifts along in a diffuse melancholy haze which occasionally coalesces into passages of overwrought heartbreak. Cloying celestes and harpsichords float in and out, strings swell, and some ill-advised scratching even appears. The pace picks up a bit towards the end with a couple of more energetic dancefloor numbers but by then there is no longer any momentum to maintain. The regrettable truth is that this album is coffee table electronica, barely a cut above stuff like Röyksopp.

Thankfully, this isn’t all there is to Trentemøller: his real strength, as exhibited in his singles, lies in a combination of precise production technique and a ruthless sense for what propels a dancefloor. So the good news about this release is that its first run comes with a bonus disc compiling his most recent 12" releases. This includes not only the superior single mixes to three tracks from the album, but also eight more productions that demonstrate Trentemøller's abilities far better than the album itself. In the best of these tracks, nothing is superfluous as the pressure relentlessly builds, recalling the most brutal EBM and the most jacking acid house. The bonus disc is great; it's just a shame Trentemøller didn't use his talents better on The Last Resort.

By Greg Ferguson

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