- My friends, the dance music world is in crisis right now, divided as it is into two opposite factions. On one side, you have the maximalists, for who more is definitely always more and who do not believe in the idea of restraint: Vitalic, Boys Noize, Digitalism, Justice, MSTRKRFT, or Sebastian, to name a few, are all about the sheer thrill of digital distorted noises, propulsive, crunchy basslines, and the over-saturation of theirs or others’ tracks. On the other side of the dance ring, you have the minimalists, gravitating around the Berlin-Windsor-Santiago axis, with their delicate pads, their shared Ableton Live plug-ins, and their ongoing love for twelve-minute insect-like micro beats. The fan bases are stuck in either/or rhetorics: you either belong to one or the other; the forces in presence, it seems, are irreconcilable. Anders Trentemoller, on his first album for Berlin’s own seminal tech-house imprint Poker Flat, is about to change that and bring balance to the Force.
‘The Last Resort’, Trentmoller’s full-length take on these two tendencies of contemporary electronic dance music, is a twenty-two-track feast (it comes initially as a limited-edition 2-CD package: this is what you should get) that sums everything that is great about, well, these two tendencies of contemporary electronic dance music. His over-the-top remixes for the likes of Royksopp, Yoshimoto, and The Knife won him over the maximalist crowd, and his own, recent 12” productions (‘Polar Shift’, ‘Sunstroke’, ‘Nam Nam’, all on the second CD), are worthy of any Dominik Eulberg-like minimal sets. The overall feeling is integrative, not segregationist. In other words, this is any purist’s nightmare.
Trentemoller’s own strength, though, lies in his devotion to details (he seems to be following Depeche Mode’s famous “Never use the same sound twice” mantra) and his dedication to syncretism. Album opener ‘Take Me Under Your Skin’, for example, just does that: its intriguing, multi-lined melodies and intricate beat patterns are going straight for the guts but will amaze any minds. The song owes as much to minimal as it does to Italo (!), but all will admit it is a truly gorgeous piece of work and a fitting introduction to a diverse album that will then turn into moody dub (‘Nightwalker’), creepy cellos-and-guitars-tinged trip hop (‘Like Two Strangers’, ‘The Very Last Resort’, ‘Snowflake’: Tiga it is not) or full-on dance euphoria (his own remix of ‘Always Something Better’, ‘Killer Kat’).
Taken as a whole, the mood might be slightly dark, but it is always exhilarating, never depressing. The Sturm Und Drang-like cover art (not to self: is minimal the new goth!?!) might show where Trentemoller likes to think he is coming from (German electronic Romanticism), but what’s inside shows what he is aiming for (international dance floors AND bedrooms, bodies AND souls). On that level, it is an utter success. Add the fact that is it an album’s album, i.e. it doesn’t feel like a single’s compilation (even CD2 is highly coherent), and you get one of the year's – and, let’s be frank here, Poker Flat’s very first – dance music landmarks.
Whether your godless world is ruled by chopped Magda/Hawtin productions or Digitalism remixes of Kaiser Bloc tracks, you’ll be lucky to hear anything more era-defining than this in 2006. All hail the real min2MAX king. No either nor or.