Equally comfortable dialling in enchanting techno rhythms into a drum machine as he is summoning intricate melodies from a reverb-soaked guitar, Anders Trentemøller has spent his career exploring the darker corners of synthwave, electronica, shoegaze and post-rock, blurring the lines between these categories as he continues to reinvent himself as an artist.
His latest album, Memoria, sees the Danish producer and multi-instrumentalist digging deeper into the sound he perfected on 2019’s Obverse - broody guitar lines, shadowy synth tones, and cascading arpeggios - while honing his skills as a songwriter and lyricist. For our Career in Gear feature, Trentemøller selected five pieces of studio equipment that have been essential in defining his sound and let us know how they figure in his creative process.
1. Hughes AK-100
Church of Trees
“This is a kind of rare box from the early 80’s that I use all the time for widening the stereo image. No other hardware or plugin sounds as nice as this one, I think! It’s an old box made for faking surround sound on a television, but I heard about it from my big idol and inspiration Tchad Blake in one of his excellent Mix With The Masters episodes.”
“It does some lo-fi magic on both a stereo and mono sign and I use it very often. Nearly on every mix I do. It makes the signal sound very open, coming from outside of the speakers nearly… and it’s kind of dull in a very nice way.
"It is a bit noisy but I don ’t care, maybe it rolls off some of the high frequencies if it’s very obvious, but most of the time I don’t. Is it mono compatible? No, and that’s fine with me! You can hear its magic on the song Church of Trees from my Obverse album. It’s all over nearly all of the synths.”
2. Revox B-77
“My beloved tape machine is also getting used quite often, but not as often as earlier. Now I also use a lot of the nice tape plugins out there, especially the ones that can sound like old cassette players with all their imperfections . But mainly I’m using the Revox for glueing drums together, or adding warmth to a synth bass or real bass, or for whole mixes.
“Often the more analogue sounding songs are being recorded through this machine. I like the vibe it brings to the mix. Not a huge difference, but a nice subtle difference that sounds warm and fat that glues the whole mix together in a more pleasant way than most compressors do I feel, but I’m not good at using compressors anyway… still haven’t figured out exactly how they work! Sleeper from the Obverse album is a good example of the whole track running through the Revox.”
3. Robert Smith Ultracure VI
In The Garden
“I love this! As a HUGE The Cure fan I adore their guitar sound and this one gives me that great Fender Bass VI vibe. It’s not a normal guitar but not a baritone guitar as well, it’s this mix between a guitar and a bass. It sounds quite crisp and sits so well in a mix.
"I really like to play simple one- string parts on it. Put a chorus or flanger on this one and you’re straight into The Cure and Joy Division-land! I have used it on my last four studio albums and I also bring it with me live. All the high bass-like tones on In The Garden from Obverse is the Ultracure.”
4. Digitech XP-300 Space Station
Veil of White
“This is a crazy nice effect from the early 90’s. It’s a multi-effect thing. You can’t turn a lot of knobs, actually there are none, only the expression pedal is changing the sound as you press it up and down. But it has a lot of cool effects that are great for both far out, bizarre sounds or more dreamy shoegaze kind of stuff. I use it mostly for that.
“A lot of modern effects can sound similar but not as ‘dirty’ as this one I think. It was used a lot on my new album! All the dreamy guitar and synth parts went through this baby, all the noise and dreamy Rhodes on the opening track ‘Veil Of White’ is this pedal! I used it more or less on every song on Memoria. I ran my Hohner String Melody 2 through it and then into a Boss Dimension C pedal to give it some nice lush stereo widening, that was a trick I used on several songs too. I simply can’t live without this effect on my synths and guitars.”
5. Effects pedals
“I use my effect pedals all the time on everything! Not only for guitar and bass but for all kinds of stuff. I like the unique sounds you can get from messing around with them, you can make them sound as no other hardware or plugins can I think, especially with several linked together. I often don’t know what I’m doing but that’s the fun part, and I like turning the knobs. [laughs]”
“I’m an addict to chorus, used in the Cure/post-rock way… especially on bass, guitar and mono synths. But I have all kind of effects, from reverb, delay, fuzz, lo-fi stuff, granular weird effects to flanger and yeah… chorus! Some of my effects are in a pedalboard but most are on my shelves and in my drawers, I think I have more than 300 pedals. It’s crazy, it’s too much, but I can’t stop collecting them. Especially rare vintage Japanese ones.
"But they also often get used, and I know I have them if I’m ever looking for a specific sound. One song that has a lot of effects from pedals is the last part of the song Phoenicia from the Fiction album. All the delays, the wow/flutter and weird reverb feedbacks are my pedals in a long chain.”