Analysis and fixed processes have supplanted mystery. Romanticism is in short supply. Luckily there is still music being released that pushes back. Anders Trentemøller’s latest album, Memoria, seems to exist at the confluence of inspiration, coincidence, and maybe even a little bit of the supernatural.
After unexpectedly releasing four songs on two singles in 2021 (No One Quite Like You and Golden Sun), one might have been surprised to find a full album’s worth of material waiting in the wings. As with most Trentemøller releases, it’s a body of songs that are thematically linked by many melodic threads.
Classically speaking, memoria (memory) is one of the five canons of rhetoric, along with discovery, arrangement, eloquence, and recitation. It’s how stories are told, and memoria is the central pillar. Trentemøller’s songs never deliver the completed narrative, that’s for the listener to construct, but in every track exists these five seeds, primed for germination.
When the songs hit we’re greeted with a quartet of trance-inducing numbers which explore the liminal space between the dream world and reality, whisking the listener from the temporal to a parallel world, where synesthesia dictates things like sky color and tidal movements. Longtime collaborator Lisbet Fritze’s vocals intertwine with various melodious threads to form a diaphanous fabric in “No More Kissing In The Rain,” which examines impermanence from an abstract angle. The fourth in the set, “Glow,” acts as a bridge to the middle third of the album, where stored energy converts to motion, and we meet the first single released from the collection.
“In The Gloaming,” implies the arc of the album might have actually begun late in the day, giving the sensation of waking in the evening. Nocturne’s dawning. Stars emerge in the form of percussive arpeggios. Fritze flawlessly and profoundly delivers an eventide script. Its accompanying video captures the somber, almost hallucinogenic qualities of the twilight hour. Eyes turn to space.
The album approaches its apogee when the motorik energy of “When The Sun Explodes” propels us towards the kosmische. Its bridge forecasts impending intensity, which is ultimately realized in “Dead Or Alive,” where punk dynamism, urgent bass and unrelenting drums form a pact with id-driven vocals, assembling into what’s sure to be the newest entry into the noise rock canon. The stars collapse, and we enter the third act.
Trentemøller’s fascination with seemingly diametrically opposed subjects, as it relates to our fleeting existence here on earth, is at the heart of “All Too Soon.” The subject of its companion video contemplates this on a motorcycle ride that could be happening at either dusk or dawn. Like emerging from a cold celestial ocean into a warming terrestrial breeze, it takes us back into more gentle territory with its reassuring promises of immortality, materializing like a mate to “No More Kissing In The Rain,” only with the polarity flipped. Flat on our back, staring at the sky, as satellites and star-sailers drift by, “Like A Daydream” chimes on. Earnestly delivered vocals are buoyed up by carillon guitar, tethered to a relaxed drum shuffle, by a progression of bass chords. We come down easy and reach the final composition of the album, “Linger,” which feels like a denouement at half-speed.
2019’s Obverse was an exercise in what could be done if the prospect of performing the songs onstage wasn’t a factor. It opened up some doors, and signaled a new chapter. Memoria, even considering its resplendence, almost feels like it demands to be presented live as well.
"Noise and tranquillity, modular synths and jangle from Danish composer. Trentemøller's deftness in balancing light and shade and a multi-layered approach are key to its allure." (Mojo, UK)
"Danish composer, musician, and producer Trentemøller seems to unearth another layer of his lush, cinematic sonicverse with every release. Over the last twenty years, he's found a home for his captivating style in everything from immaculate electronica to gauzy celestial pop." (KEXP, USA)
"While a certain amount of gloomy darkness is still a crucial ingredient for the Trentemøller sound there is a certain brightness and hopeful notion in this new album, transported via lots guitar, reverb and an almost meditative notion." (Nothing But Hope And Passion, GER)