In 1982, Neil Young pulled a hard left. That’s the year that Young released Trans, an album of vocoder-powered sci-fi synthpop. This was not the sort of thing that people were expecting from Neil Young. Just a decade earlier, he’d released Harvest, the single biggest-selling album of 1972. Now he was chasing his music and making bugged-out, Kraftwerk-damaged art music. A year after the release of Trans, Young’s label Geffen sued him for making “unrepresentative” work. These guys took Neil Young to court for the crime of not sounding enough like Neil Young.
Trans was widely panned upon its release, but now it’s a cult favorite among those of us who love the idea that a superstar like Young was willing to do something so weird and brave. And it’s also a deeply pretty record in its own way — a sort of proto-808s & Heartbreak. One of the album’s admirers seems to be the Danish dance producer Anders Trentemøller, who has now released his own version of the Trans standout “Transformer Man.”
Trentemøller’s version of “Transformer Man” comes from his forthcoming DJ-mix album Harbour Boat Trips Vol. 02: Copenhagen. It’s a slicker, chillier take on the track, and it’s got a whispery vocal from the Danish singer Marie Fisker. But in both sound and spirit, it’s pretty true to Young’s original. Below, listen to Trentemøller’s cover and to Young’s original:
Harbour Boat Trips Vol. 02: Copenhagen is out 11/23 on HFN.