Neil Young’s 1982 electronic, vocodor-heavy ‘Trans’ album is by no means a fan-favourite. In fact, the robotic sound was considered to be so far detached from his folky, guitar-led, back catalouge, that his record company sued him for ‘producing albums deemed “not ‘commercial’ and [… ]musically uncharacteristic of Young’s previous recordings.”’
‘Trans’, however, is not without its defenders, and several of the tracks have come to be looked upon more favorably than at the time of release. Certainly, Copenhagen-based musician Trentemøller deemed ‘Transformer Man’–which even now is not considered to be a Young classic– worthy of a cover, with Maria Fisker on vocals.
Trentemøller notes that whilst he was not originally a fan of the song, “the melody, especially the hook line, somehow caught me”. Spurred on by the inaccessibility of the sound, Trentemøller ‘took it as a challenge to see which direction we could take the song’.
And do we think the new direction is Glitter or Litter?
We think this track is a solid Glitter. Trentemøller and Fisker have stripped back most of the electronic, synth and vocal distortion, and the result is almost unrecognisable. Maria Fisker’s vocals are soft but haunting, and she sounds not a little like a female Bowie.
The electronic elements that Trentemøller has chosen to retain are more minimalistic, lending the song a more authentic and personal feel, which was completely absent from the over-produced techno-futuristic bric-a-brac of the Young version. This cover would not be out of place in a Nichola Winding Refn film.
The covers strength lies in the way in which it manages to tease out the themes of alienation and isolation that were present only lyrically in the original. As a result Trentemøller’s reimagining of ‘Transformer Man’ functions as a coherent whole: dark, stark, and bleak.
Do you agree that Trentemøller’s cover of ‘Transformer Man’ is Glitter? Or do you think it belongs firmly in the bin as Litter? Let us know in the comments below or on our twitter!