I've been a bit of a fan of Trentemøller for a while now, and particularly love his Harbour Boat Trips mix album [affiliate link] since it really eschews expectations of what a mix album should be. Not made for dancing, or even chilling out to, Harbour Boat Trips was a textured mood-piece - a journey through late night Copenhagen - and that sense shot for and hit what all good mix albums should: transcendence, the creation of an artistic piece with as much merit as the standard artist album.
If you are familiar with my blog you will probably realise that my favourite music tends to be electronic, and as such I've always loved mix albums almost as much as normal albums. At their best they can take music you know and place it in an entirely new context in a way that totally changes your perception - just look at the popularity of Soulwax's 2ManyDJ's act.
Trentemøller's mixes are, however, nothing like 2ManyDJs. But they do shift your perception of the songs you know, and create feelings out of songs you don't. The Late Night Tales CD series has existed for years and on the whole they are good, but they often feel incomplete - perhaps as a result of the late night after party concept. maybe they are just supposed to feel a bit thrown together.
Whatever the case, this one doesn't feel thrown together in any way. This is very much another take on the Harbour Boat Trips formula. The mix is dense, dark and paranoid. You won't dance - you'll be too afraid to even move. There is a creeping dread that runs through a lot of this album but it creates a beautiful, tangibly thick atmosphere.
This is particularly true of the start of the album, which is consistently heavy. Trentemøller's remix of Chimes & Bells' 'The Mole' is one of the album's best moments - a perfect blend of digital and analogue, one moment soaring, the next bathed in looping bass and stabs of synth.
This dark opening third is rounded out by Mazzy Star's 'Mary of Silence', pondering and slow it gives way to the Velvet Underground's 'Venus and Furs'. This in itself marks the start of a more left field section which peaks with Jacqueline Taieb's French spoken and ad-libbed 'Sept Heures Du Matin'. In fact the entire album hits it's peak when the music drops away and Taieb drops in to English to say "Talking 'bout my generation". It's knowing and sassy and effortlessly cool, which basically encapsulated this album.
The final third of the album feels like a blend of the former two. Trentemøller's only track on here, 'Blue Hotel', is at turns dark and sassy followed by moments of bleak electronic instrumentation. It genuinely feels not of this time and sits alongside the rest of the music here perfectly. The album goes on to close in a typically epic fashion which it is not my place to spoil.
So in summary Trentemøller has done it again. His Harbour Boat Trips is one of the best mix albums ever made and this stands up to that album as its equal.