It takes real stones to lead off your DJ set with Bruce Springsteen.
And not even dance-floor Bruce. (See Arthur Baker’s trio of 12-inch club remixes of Born in the U.S.A. singles.) No, the Danish DJ-producer-bandleader Trentemøller (his surname -- his first is Anders) chose to open his podcast mix for the venerable San Francisco dance magazine-turned-website XLR8R with the Springsteen of Nebraska, the 1982 album whose utterly bleak themes and lo-fi sonics render it one of the flat-out scariest records ever, making your average Goth disc sound like “MMMBop.”
Trentemøller, XLR8R Podcast 135 -- June 5, 2010
So that album’s “State Trooper” is perfect to begin Trentemøller’s set, particularly because the producer (whose Fixion tour comes to the Fine Line on Saturday) tinkers with it just enough to give it a groove. Far from overhauling the track or adding a kick drum beneath it (yuck), Trentemøller’s nips and tucks turn Bruce’s muddy foot percussion into a ghostly pulse and his unearthly falsetto shriek into a percussive motif. Every Bruce fan I’ve played it for loves it.
That sort of rapprochement between sensibilities abounds on XLR8R Podcast 135. It’s not really a dance mix because not everything even has a beat (say hello to an Angelo Badalamenti-Black Angels-Low sequence that climaxes gloriously with “That’s How You Say Amazing Grace”), but it’s not quite a dark-sider crush tape, either. Instead it’s both at once, and what glues them both together is classic rock. Beyond Bruce, we also get an edit of the Rolling Stones’ “Get Off of My Cloud” and a strange, off-pace mash-up of “A Day in the Life” over dub reggae -- and, since they probably count as “classic rock” by now, “Girl” by Springsteen favorites Suicide.
That all this stuff sits comfortably alongside more straightforward club grooves like Trentemøller’s remixes of his own “Sycamore Feeling” and Crash Course in Science’s “Flying Turns” says a lot about the DJ, both as a selector and musician. As a producer, Trentemøller grew popular in mid-2000s techno circles thanks in large part to the heavily atmospheric sound of his records: “organic forest techno,” as one critic half-joked when Resident Advisor voted his 2006 double CD, The Last Resort, the number 28 dance album of the 2000s.
That moodiness, naturally, makes its way into his mixes -- and, it should be noted, much of XLR8R Podcast 135 also made its way onto the officially released volume of the DJ mix CD series Late Night Tales, which came out a year later. In fact the podcast is something of a dry run for the CD, though several of the former’s best tracks couldn’t be licensed for the latter, including “State Trooper.” “Clearing is quite a lot of work,” Trentemøller said when Late Night Tales was released. “The record label spent a lot of time on it. Some of the major labels were slow in getting back; some of the small labels [don't] exist anymore.”
With: Tom and His Computer
When: 8 p.m. Sat., March 18
Where: Fine Line Music Cafe
Tickets:18+, $20-$35; more info here
Each week, Michaelangelo Matos will spotlight a different DJ set -- often but not always new, sometimes tied to a local show but not necessarily -- and discuss its place in the overall sphere of dance music and pop.
More from Music