Röyksopp have spent two decades delivering chilled out excellence.
The Norwegian duo have built a singular catalogue, moving from low-key acoustic elements through to up-front electronics, somehow blending all these elements – and more – into something distinct, and immediately recognisable.
This year, the group have tried something new; the ‘Profound Mysteries’ series has been split into three, a trilogy of releases showing the full range of the project’s creativity. Closing with ‘Profound Mysteries III’ on November 18th, the series has become a kind of musical autobiography, as Röyksopp explain…
“One (of many) things we wanted to do with ‘Profound Mysteries’, is to pay homage to those genres that has helped form us as musicians. ‘Profound Mysteries’ can therefore be seen/heard as an eclectic and somewhat esoteric journey into the musical DNA of Röyksopp.”
So, with that in mind, Clash invited Röyksopp to break down some of the key elements on the new release…
‘Unity’ is a reference to early 90s rave and club culture; both in expression and message. As teens at that point, this was the music that really spoke to us; as kids we had grown up listening to the pioneers of electronic music, but with the warehouse & rave-scene, we were able to partake in a movement as it was happening. In summary, ‘Unity’ is a nod to a vast selection of artists and tracks that hail from the period; KLF, Meat Beat Manifesto, Jonny L, N.R.G. and FSOL to name but a few.
It must also be said that with ‘Unity’, we did not seek to make a 100 % retro-replica of a 90s club or rave track, but rather be inspired by the genres and do a Röyksopp-spin on it. This distinction is most notably found in the difference in BPM. Having said all that, ‘Sweet Harmony’ by Liquid, has certainly made an impact, which can be – unintentionally, detected in ‘Unity’.
‘Oh, Lover’ is a nod to early Italo-disco circa 1982 to 84. Before Italo got its name, really. Again, ‘Oh, Lover’ is not meant to be a 1-to-1 version of Italo, but rather a Röyksopp version of it. Now, flirting with italo is not new to us – we’ve been doing that since before ‘Melody A.M., and our Back To Mine mix album (from 2006) is drenched in Italo tracks. And there is no hiding the Italo-influence in our track ‘Never Ever’.
When being so specific about the period 82 to 84 – or thereabouts, this has to do with how (pre-)Italo was made around that time. Producers of that era would still hang on to electro-acoustic instruments such as electric guitars and bass (established by disco), to assist the layers of the newly acquired synths. In addition, one would play acoustic drums on top of the new invention; the drum machine.
And this is the Italo we love, where sloppy live instruments meet sequencers and programmed drum patterns. This blend – a mix of the acoustic, analogue and digital sounds, has always had a huge impact on how we forged our sonic soundscapes. There are many examples of great Italo-classics, some of which we have highlighted in the past in DJ sets etc.
Here’s one where all boxes are ticked:
We’ve ‘always’ had a soft-spot for semi-pompous progressive rock – particularly the tracks that are balancing on the verge of being simply ‘too much’. Sprinkled with denim, beards and synths, preferably. And if said songs also can boast a dynamic build – preferably from the very small to the very big, we’re sold!
‘Some Resolve’ doesn’t necessarily meet those requirements, but regardless, it’s a hats-off to those artists who can pull off the aforementioned stunt. Those familiar with the legacy of Röyksopp, will know that we have been toying with elements of prog-rock-vastness several times over the years, most notably with ‘Röyksopp’s Night Out’ (Melody A.M.), ‘Alpha Male’ (The Understanding), ‘Röyksopp Forever’ (Junior), ‘Keyboard Milk’ and ‘The Fear’ (Senior).
Growing up in a typical home of the seventies, being exposed by The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac was inevitable. Not a bad thing at all. Quite the opposite.
With ‘Tell Him’, we wanted to introduce some of that folksy-singer-songwriter pop into the mix (of ‘Profound Mysteries’. We wanted to make a track that could boast a warm mid-70s saturation and color, blended with instrumentation of that time period. And most importantly an emphasis on melody and lyrics.
With the examples above, ‘Tell Him’ possibly have more in common with Young and Fleetwood Mac. I do detect that Don Mclean’s ‘Vincent’ and Splinter’s ‘Costafine Town’ pop up in my mind as I’m writing this. Perhaps were they lurking in my subconsciousness whilst writing the song? Again, ‘Tell Him’ is not an attempt at making ONLY a mid-seventies pop-rock affair, but rather something reminiscent of that. Our way.
‘Let’s Get It Right’
Well, this one is a bit tricky.
‘Let’s Get It Right’ is in all absolute honesty a tribute to ourselves and the Röyksopp sound. Yes, that’s highly self-centered and awful, but true. We wanted to re-ignite some embers of yesteryear, in order to please ourselves – and hopefully a few old-time Röyksopp-aficionados out there.
To us, this is vintage Röyksopp; lush, warm soundscapes combined with slightly saturated and detuned electro-acoustic instruments (see above on ‘Oh, Lover’). A simple message washed in honey and bass. It’s super naive and yet (to us) enticingly complex. Why this self-tribute? Well, over the years, we feel most attempts at labelling us has been lacking precision. And – to continue on our embarrassing path of self-centered pretentiousness, we truly feel that only Röyksopp is Röyksopp. Hence us making a nod to our own work. On a parting note, we leave you with a track that might have been inspirational to us, in making ‘Let’s Get It Right’. Honesty is important to us, so here you go: