Saturday 29 October 2022

Almost There

Good news is the issues on *this* site are fixed. I think. I'm not sure how things were set up before, couldn't make heads or tails of how it was set up or what went wrong so I've gone with an alternate solution that *should* have the same outcome. I finished fixing it up a couple days ago and you shouldn't have seen any changes, bar from a brief window where I needed to fix the naked redirect, which isn't as fun as the name would imply. But enough about tech, let's talk tunes.

The Understanding has a much more surreal cover than the super clean modernist look of Melody A.M.

Seems that every year around this time I go back to Röyksopp, I'd like to say it's to synchronise with the seasons but really I think it's just I get the itch every few months or so. I have a lot of love for the Röyksopp lads, they are one of the longest serving acts in my collection after I picked up Melody A.M. sometime in the early 00's - as did many people, Melody A.M. is one of those albums that was everywhere at the time, much like Moby's Play a couple years before it, it is one of those albums that even if you think you haven't heard anything from it, you absolutely have. From advertisements to the soundtrack to the setup program for OS X Panther, it popped up everywhere.

While they have never really reached the same levels of mainstream success as that time, their output since has been consistently a highlight for me. The Understanding was the immediate follow up to Melody and a marked a subtle maturation in sound, there's a lot more acoustic elements on this album as the melancholy piano of opening track Triumphant shows off from the jump. It's not long before things take a familiar turn around the 30 second mark. Towards the end things take a bit of a turn towards the cinematic, but that's not entirely unexpected given some of the cuts on Melody A.M. I'll be posting both the Soundcloud and YT embed here just for coverage.

Beyond just the instrumentals though there is plenty more to get stuck into, there is of course the incredible What Else Is There?. A collaboration between Röyksopp and Karin Dreijer of The Knife, it should come as no surprise to you reading that it is probably my overall favourite from the album. That melancholic streak is much more pronounced here, and backed up by Karin's incredibly powerful vocal makes it an absolute experience. It was off the heels of this and some other The Knife tracks that Karin quickly became one of my favourite vocalists, and seeing them reunite with Röyksopp again on Junior was a real treat. The success of this track no doubt amplified by the equally evocative video, it's a shame that the file hasn't been updated with a more HD version and it is stuck in its crunchy 2008 form, but even so it remains iconic.

Completing my whirlwind tour of this album we have Dead To The World, the penultimate track. It brings the album to a nice close with its dreamy vibes, it reminds me a little in parts of the more country inspired parts of Brian Eno's Apollo - Atmospheres & Soundtracks, but that could also just be a by-product of the sample from Camel's Who We Are that comes up in the mix. This track also showcases something I've not yet talked about with this LP, I believe this album is the first time that Röyksopp themselves do some of the vocals, with Melody A.M. featuring all guest vocalists. At least, on a released album as the live shows from around the time have them on vocoders if I remember right. They do a fine job, perhaps a bit mumbly and difficult to make out in parts but by no means bad, and they would only improve on later releases.

And that'll be all for today, the soundcloud set actually includes the 5 bonus tracks from the limited edition which are all great instrumental additions, but I think they can wait for another time, I've mentioned them in the past on here anyway. I have plenty more to write about so I will be back around soon enough, now a lot of the tech troubleshooting is out of the way it should be a little more consistent as well, but I don't think I've been delaying things too much even with that barrier in place. At any rate I'll catch you all again soon and as always: stay safe and enjoy the music.


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