Track by Track: Trentemøller – Memoria
Last month Copenhagen-based composer Trentemøller released his sixth album, Memoria.
Marking his first LP since Observe back in 2019, the release builds on the rich, melodic electronica he’s become known for and represents the next chapter in an evolving series of releases.
Dubbed as ‘a new form of electronic space pop’, like previous Trentemøller outings Memoria explores contrasting themes and sounds; there’s elements of light and dark, comfort and disquiet and tranquility and turbulence throughout its 14 track course.
Much like the way in which he likes to digest other artist’s albums, with this long player he’s set out to take listeners on a journey, which he does by drawing on the five canons of storytelling: inventio, dispositio, elocutio, pronuntiatio and, of course, memoria.
Moving through the motions, the sonics range from haunting, otherworldly electronica to fuzzy shoegaze and heady noise punk that fades in and out in a hazy fog. Following the release Anders walks us through the inspiration and process behind each track on the release.
Veil Of White
This was the first song I started working on, and it pretty much defines the whole sound of ‘Memoria.’ I wanted to achieve a hazy, foggy vibe, almost like walking around in a ghostly world. To achieve this, I used one of the first digital effects pedals called XP300 Spacestation. I like the sound so much it goes through the rest of the album too. It produces these really nice otherworldly overtones that created a lot of dimension in the sound. I wrote all the lyrics and the melody – a first for me – and my girlfriend Lisbet Fritze’s haunting vocals brings it all to life beautifully.
No More Kissing In The Rain
Funnily enough this was the second song I wrote, and many other songs appear in the same order I wrote them too. Each song follows the other in quite a natural, organic way, almost like a story. I’m a huge fan of albums as they allow us to really get inside an artist’s head and see into their world. I love albums that take you on a journey and not just a collection of songs. This track is huge and uplifting, and I think it’s the perfect second song to really kick-off the album.
Instrumentals can be so powerful and I love doing them. They can evoke a lot of feeling without lyrics dictating anything. Darkland is one of those songs. I like how simple it is with the synth chords slowly building up towards the end, and the noise guitars nearly take over the whole track. It works so well live and I can’t wait for the ‘Memoria’ tour to begin.
After three melancholic songs set the vibe, I wanted to go in another direction with something a bit more electronic but still organic and analogue. ‘Glow’ is based on this simple synth arpeggio I played myself. I’m not a fan of automatic generated arpeggios that you can find on so many synths as I like to decide on all the notes myself. So you find a lot of different arpeggios and a driving beat to get it all together. The dreamy guitars start things in a dreamy fashion that fit with the 3 songs before. Then suddenly this synth comes in and overrides everything else. It’s a nice contrast I think.
In The Gloaming
This song is about a difficult relationship. Being in love with a person who drags you down, and trying to find a way out of unhealthy patterns. I wanted the song to have an epic sound to underline the big dilemma. The huge drums, the wavy guitars and the anthem-like synth theme. It was such a fantastic experience to hear Lisbet singing my lyrics and melody. It took me six albums to summon the courage to write the vocal melodies and lyrics myself. I don’t think I had the confidence in myself until now.
’The Rise’ is an instrumental built on this organ melody I came up with late one evening. I’m a huge fan of Beak and their use of using synths and organs. I wanted to the synth to have a warbly sound so I ran it through a fun little cassette player echo machine I have from a now discontinued danish company T-Rex, called Replicator. The tape is a bit damaged and I put it on the window ledge to burn in the sun so it sounded even more damaged. My good friend Silas Tingleff plays the drums on this song, and he also played a lot of the guitar parts I wrote on my keys throughout the album. I can’t play guitar myself unfortunately
When The Sun Explodes
I love the sound of many krautrock bands, especially Neu. The drums on this song are really inspired by their sound minimalistic drums. I came up with some really mysterious synth pads that sounded earthy and a bit creepy, and they went well with the repeating uptempo drums and synth bass, offering a nice contrast. I felt the song needed a drastic change. I wanted it all to explode, so I came up with this bridge that allows the noise guitars to take a new direction. Underneath there are several distorted synths that bend down in pitch, as if everything is about to fall apart.
Dead Or Alive
This is much more uptempo and noisy, with a lot of punky energy from my sparse vocals! It’s a simple tune I wrote in about 20 minutes, and was made about half way through the writing process. I simply wanted to give the album a vitamin boost so the listener doesn’t fall asleep!
All Too Soon
This is a song about the transience of life. The fact that nothing lasts forever, and the creeping sense of despair it can evoke. It raises a lot of questions with no answers, but it’s also about living life in the moment. I wanted to address that feeling of freedom by creating a sense of optimism within the music. The melodic guitar in the forefront and the driving, kind of naive drums give it more lighter feel, but at the same time the feedback from the guitar creates small hints of chaos behind it all.
A Summers Empty Room
One day while working on the album in my basement, I came up with these simple synth tones on my beloved Arturia synth Micro Freak. It’s a lovely little synth with so many nice sounds on it, especially through a lot of effect pedals. I used a pedal called Fabrikat from a Norwegian company that create the most beautifully quirky pedals. I felt the song was missing something so I came up with this Twin Peaks like guitar on my sampler. I’m just a sucker for that sound, as are many others of course.
This is most electronic sounding song on the album. I went to Sweden with my girlfriend and son last winter, and made it on my laptop in a remote cabin in the middle of the forest. There was a big storm and from the window I could see these swaying pinetrees. They inspired me to play around with some soft synths on my laptop. I felt the album needed something less guitar orientated, but still had that dusty sound. I ran the synths through a lot of analogue outboard gear when I came back to Copenhagen, and finished the mixing in my studio.
One morning I woke up with this super simple guitar theme in my head and I rushed to the studio to try to capture the idea. In the beginning the theme was played on my upright piano, but it sounds so ethereal on guitar. This song literally came from my dreams. The basslines are an important element in this song, and define it as much as the synths and the guitar. It’s super warm and cold at the same times and I really like that.
Like A Daydream
I’m really happy about the melodies in this track. The guitar theme is a huge ode to Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie, whose guitar sound I have always admired. So angelic and epic sounding! After I came up with that guitar part, the rest of the song kind of wrote itself. It was very easy. The whole vibe of the song is again quite dreamy, so the lyrics echo this feeling….a memory you want to hold on to but also, slowly fading away in a daydream.
Fittingly, ‘Linger’ was the last song I wrote on the album. After ‘Like A Daydream’ I needed some sort of closure, so I wrote this little piece which is very slow and has a lot of space in it. It’s dark and melancholic but still has some hope in it, especially in the part with the glockenspiel. The whole song opens up before it dives back into that ‘blanket of comforting sounds,’ then slowly fades out into the fog. A bit like the whole album started.
Memoria is out now.