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Various/Trentemoller – Late Night Tales review

The Late Night Tales series has always been a bit of a hit-and-miss affair, with every essential volume followed by several that fail to excite thanks to so-so tracklistlings. Sure, once in a while one will come along that’s simply stunning, but it’s an increasing rarity. Singling out Late Night Tales for particular criticism is perhaps a bit harsh; most downtempo/chillout series fall into the same trap.

Fortunately, Trentemøller is no ordinary DJ/producer, and this is no ordinary “chillout” selection. Let’s not beat about the bush: this is one of the best volumes of the Late Night Tales series yet; perhaps even the finest. It probably helps that the man at the controls is a DJ, producer and performer who has always held atmosphere and emotional response in high regard. Trentemøller’s own ambient/downtempo projects offer proof of this. But this Late Night Tales isn’t particularly ambient in its outlook, although there are moments of sanguine, semi-ambience (see opener “Waves Become Wings” by This Mortal Coil, a quiet but weirdly symphonic combination of choral singing and gentle keys). It’s actually more psychedelic in tone, with Trentemøller showcasing the breadth and diversity of his record collection via 20 weird, wonderful and haunting selections.

The mix itself (included as a bonus on the digital edition, and the main attraction on the CD version) is simply stunning, effortlessly moving between disparate musical styles whilst retaining a kind of dark, heart-aching aesthetic. The 20 tracks included cover everything from fuzzy lo-fi rock, smacked-out surf rock, goth-rock wrist-slashers and late night jazz to maudlin ballads, folksy introspection and dubby Scandolearica (the brilliant “The Mole” by Chimes & Bells). Trentemøller also finds space for a track of his own, the moody, Bauhaus-ish “Blue Hotel”. By eschewing the familiar in favour of the haunting, dark and uncomfortable, the Danish producer has put together a spellbinding collection. It might not soundtrack many messy “back to mine” sessions, but it makes stunning listening.

Matt Anniss