After a successful career spanning almost 20 years, Anders Trentemøller‘s creative drive transcends trends, genres, and expectations and in swift style, he decided to make an album without touring in mind. “For the first time, I had the possibility to say ok now I’m not going to play this album live at all.”
Obverse, his fifth studio album, arrived on the 27th of September via his own imprint In My Room and encapsulates a desire to challenge himself and explore the creative possibilities of a room packed with gear. On a gloomy and drizzly late afternoon, he tells me over Skype, “I went crazy in my studio and really dived into the possibilities of the studio and maybe experimenting a bit more than I did in my last 2 albums.” As a result, the new album sounds like Trentemøller on steroids, loaded with glitched drum loops, erratic operatic melodies, and utopic guitar riffs.
Sometimes life is just unpredictable and Trentemøller’s girlfriend discovered halfway through the process that their first child would gift their lives, he explained. “Actually, in the beginning, working on the album, I didn’t really know I was going to be a father that was really great because we were trying to do that for a while.”
Before finding his creative flow, a slow period passed by in which resistance, the driven force that haunts an artist’s creative output, clouded his studio. “I’m always a little bit afraid of starting a new album, it’s a little bit of a writer’s block. And you know, this time, I was actually sitting for five months in the studio without anything coming up because it just felt that everything sounded like shit”. As someone with a strong sonic aesthetic and a decisive sense of direction, his musical motivations seed from an internal desire to create regardless of people’s opinions.
“I never thought in target groups, how would people take this live, and what would the music journalist think about this new album even if there is definitely some kind of a pressure lying there somewhere.” On close listen, Obverse conveys a nostalgic atmosphere, cross-breeding synthetic modular madness with noteworthy textures and clever sound manipulation.
Because of streaming algorithms and how they normalize sound levels, loudness war is a trend of the past. For someone who started making music several decades ago, Trentemøller can appreciate the beauty underlined in dynamically produced songs as he comments. “This album is a little bit more experimental, especially the instrumental songs, so they are going up and down in dynamics quite a lot. I just think that I was lucky to release this album, and the loudness war is not really going on anymore.”
Unlike Fixion and The Last Resort, Obverse displays cinematic influences even though film scoring is not something he strives to do. “I’m not really that much into it because I think that I like to just focus on my own music, actually, about 10 or 12 years ago, I was doing the score for a Danish movie and It was interesting and fun to do. But it was also quite frustrating in a way because I felt that I had to go into so many compromises, having meetings about how the music should be.”
The process of scoring for visuals can be an arduous one, guided by a collaborative spirit and different creative opinions can often clash. Even though the experience was amusing, he prefers to work on his own music. “I’m just thinking that I’m a little bit too ego. I just want to do my own stuff and just try to focus on my own albums and then one day, maybe I do another soundtrack.” As listening habits shifted, so did the whole music industry and sync royalties became a good source of income for many indie musicians. Trentemøller had several tracks licensed for moving pictures, with his tune ‘Silver Surfer, Ghost Rider Go’ gracing the 2012 movie Savages from Oliver Stone.
At the beginning of his career, Trentemøller’s music had a huge club appeal but he naturally distanced himself from dance-oriented productions as he comments, “I was doing a lot of more, pure electronic music and, and I feel it was a little bit boring for me to only do that. So I really wanted to just do the music that I feel would be the right music for me.”
With an outstanding portfolio of remixes, including work for artists such as Depeche Mode, Moby, and the Knife, Trentemøller’s commitment to his own art hinders a desire to create for others. “I stopped remixing for some years ago and I only did some really few exceptions, because I was really tired of using so much time on you know remixing. I felt that I was sometimes using more time to remixing other artists than doing my own stuff.” Working on other people’s stuff can be time-consuming, frustrating and stressful but when asked if there is anyone he would like to collaborate with in the future, an unlikely name came to light. “Actually you know I always liked Beck so doing a remix for him could be fun, especially his older stuff, I really love that.”
Notable traits of great producers are their ability to let it go, simplify things and understand when a tune has reached its purpose. “It is much more important that you use your ears and maybe you’re using those plugins or you’re trying to kind of fuck it up a little bit or do something that is not supposed to do with the plugins or do something different with it in the box, because then you can definitely do something great.”
In tunes such as ‘In The Garden’ and ‘Church of Trees’, simple harmonic movements convey an underlined minimalist and sophisticated approach to music composition. While Trentemøller might paint the picture of a precise and methodical musician accustomed to analog gear and a strict creative routine, he approaches new ways of making music with an open mind. When asked if composing just with a computer would be feasible, he calmly says, “Yeah definitely, because, for me, it’s much more about the ideas, I think rather than the gear, I just like analog gear quite a lot because I like the sound of it.”
Although for his loyal fanbase the opportunity to see Obverse live won’t materialize, at least they can expect new music sooner than later. “So you know, hopefully, this also means that I can do a new album a little bit faster than then I’m used to do because I don’t have to tour the album.“