Trentemøller Resubmerges Into the Dark with the Massive ‘Memoria’

Trentemøller’s Memoria is intended to be listened to in the dark: total darkness, total immersion. Added visuals would just be sensory overload.

In My Room
11 February 2022

Anders Trentemøller has steadily moved away from the clubs he frequented. His music, too, has moved away from minimalist techno and dubby electronics and into new wave areas while relying more and more on non-electronic instrumentation. However, Trentemøller still operates in the back alley gutters of his beloved early ’80s. In the noirish “All Cats Are Grey” the sounds shine brightly. Memoria, his seventh album is another worthy visionary testament to the Trentemøller canon.   

It’s a highly conceptual affair and multi-layered like a Neil Gaiman graphic novel. The atmosphere is Blade Runner-dense and it’s a challenging listen, but we expect nothing less from the artist. Memoria kick’s off with an impressive quartet of mostly vocal-driven songs. “Veil of White” and “No More Kissing in the Rain” make the first structuring pillars with their ’80s the Cure Faith-era chorus guitar and My Bloody Valentine-like vocals. Trentemøller has us reined in from the start and we jump right into that strange car without hesitation. We know it will probably hurt sometime during the ride, but it will be worth it.  

Trentemøller never lends his own vocals to his songs, but like Massive Attack, he has a perfect pitch for finding just the right voice for his music. He chooses voices that color the songs and feelings and lift the images out of the frame. Jenny Beth (Savages), Rachel Goswell (Slowdive), Jenny Lee Lindberg (Warpaint), and prolific Danish singer Marie Fisker have all left their mark on Trentemøller’s albums. This time around, Lise Fritze (from the former Giana Factory) again provides the leading vocals to goosebump-inducing effects.

On Memoria, the vocal tracks begin, reenter mid-through and close the set down. They are entry points, breathers, and ear pleasers. At the first listen, the vocal dream pop, shoegaze-style songs initiate the album and stand out, but it’s the instrumentals that stealthy steal the show. Songs like “Darklands”, with its snare drum march shuffle, synth-borne motif, and pedal steel guitar flourishes, and “Glow” with its up-paced pulsating electronics and static and feet twitching tribal beat flesh out the anatomy of Memoria.

“The Rise” is a majestic slow burner that morphs midway and snakes into another being, on the prowl, and swells manically with live drums and feverish percussion, and “A Summer’s Empty Room” embers along with a distorted drum machine, catchy heavy chorus guitar, distant horns, and choir voices emanating from deep space. These instrumentals are ‘in-between’ states in their nature. They share musical motifs but they resist form and deny closure.

As we near the end of the album, the vocal pleasure “Like a Daydream” soars and promises to take us home and bookend the album – but it doesn’t. Memoria ends with “Linger”, the sound of distorted guitar waves, and Twin Peaks-like keys that gently – but with unease – rocks the album to rest. On Memoria, there is nothing new under the moon. The territory and sounds are familiar but the magic is in the arrangement: the orchestration of tension and the release of tension, and the tight-rope balancing act between showing and keeping it veiled.   

Trentemøller inhabits his sounds. None are mere effects. They are portals through time and space. If you find yourself lost in his music, you are on the right path and in the right state of mind. Trentemøller creates sound tapestries that are so cinematic they instantly become videos in your head.

Indeed, to promote Memoria, Trentemøller partnered with the immersive Pitchblack Playback and arranged listening sessions in cinemas with high-end sound systems, wearing an eye mask to exclude all light. Memoria is intended to be listened to in the dark: total darkness, total immersion. This speaks to the power of this music; added visuals would just be sensory overload. Memoria comes with extensive press-release promotion material that is beautifully written and explanatory, but we don’t need any cues or clues. We just need to be left in the dark. That beautiful Trentemøller darkness. 

RATING 8 / 10