Mr. Anders Trentemøller blew us out of the water with his 2006 album, The Last Resort, and inevitably the first thing I did when I got the chance to listen to this was to compare it. Huge mistake on my part, I have to admit.
Into The Great Wide Yonder certainly has its share of moments that reminds us of what made The Last Resort such a great album, and even much more than that, a great experience. However, this album isn’t aimed at revisiting the places and emotions created with the first album, and that’s where I’m sure most people will fail to fully understand this for what it is and will consider this a somewhat inferior material.
I won’t pretend that I wasn’t one of them though, I truly believed that this was a disappointment from the very first time I listened to it. I was foolishly trying to understand it under the light of what I learned from The Last Resort, and that made it very difficult for me to actually open my mind to the different experience that lies beneath that huge cloud of whatever it is in the cover art.
Into The Great Wide Yonder isn’t a journey through cold and desolated scenery like the previous album, this actually doesn’t feel like an unified experience all the way through. Instead, we have as usual that almost cinematic approach on many of the tracks, that sensation that we are listening to something huge, it feels like we are being told an epic story only through instrumental means. That is something that has always made Trentemøller albums the kind of music that you can rely on when you need to feed your mind with some music-induced visual imagery. It never fails in that regard, trust me.
One of the biggest additions is the inclusion of guest vocals in many of the tracks. Some of them are welcome, some others just don’t add that much to the equation. I’m perfectly convinced that Trentemøller’s music is usually self-sufficient in terms of the necessary elements to achieve an enjoyable end product, and as such I believe that in most cases the vocal counterpart just creates a distraction. At this point I would like to stress the fact that my personal taste is usually leaning towards the ambient and downtempo instrumental genre, and that creates a bias against a vocal approach to an otherwise brilliant instrumental composer, but that’s just me.
As I said at the beginning, it’s a mistake to judge this album based on what the previous album did, however there’s one detail that I truly believe most of us were expecting: another glimpse of how awesome Trentemøller is when he is fully immersed in a minimalist setting. Miss You was definitely the peak of the previous album, and while a full album dedicated to recreate it would probably be counterproductive, including some of that magic would definitely be like seeing the gates of heaven being opened for a brief moment. There’s a serious lack of mellow/minimalist inspired tracks on this album, and while that’s not a flaw, it definitely was in everyone’s wishlist for this one.
I was surprised when I found out that most of the album feels a lot more energetic and the general mood feels a lot more lively. It is not a non stop flat out run from start to finish though, it allows you some moments to let things calm down, and then things start going up again. It has a lot more variety than I expected to be honest.
A good album overall, for some reason it never feels like it is reaching grandeur heights though. It is a highly enjoyable electronic album, but not the kind of album that will leave a lasting impression.