Röyksopp’s 2001 debut Melody A.M. belongs to the rare club of electronica albums to transcend the magical million sales threshold. Thus, regardless of the duo’s own conception, this mark is an uncircumventable media-measure for the their forthcoming follow-up The Understanding, due for global release this summer.
No-one is more awar¨e of this than Röyksopp’s Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge. But to persuade the readers of a recent interview that they feel no expectations whatever they share an unusual story of artistic pressure:
According to the duo they had totally reset their minds in terms of all external expectations, be it critics, fans or the industry, so pressure regarding the new record and its recording process could only come from unexpected quarters, which it did: The studio building’s caretaker and odd-job-man was the one who subsequently managed to put some strain on the band by always finding things to mend and interfering at the unlikeliest of times.
However, more important for Röyksopp than disregarding the expectations that follow in the wake of a great success, was the resetting of their minds in relation to the previous album itself. Clearly the duo could have utilized the same formula and created another Melody A.M. But, as one would expect from artists of such integrity and patience, this was not even an option for Röyksopp. They opted instead for the longer and more strenuous process of starting completely anew.
In the wording of their homepage this entails that the music is “different but same”, moving “upwards and onwards”, meaning, presumably, that only essential trademark elements and qualities feature again, simply in virtue of being “Röyksopp-constitutionals”.
Their record label calls The Understanding “resolutely different, but reassuringly the same in excellence”
The duo themselves conceive of their forthcoming outing as decidedly more melody-oriented than its predecessor. Melodies, rather than sound-scapes define the music and permeate the album. This clearly sets it apart from the debut, despite the latter’s name. Another aspect of this focus, which also differentiates it from ‘Melody’, is the inclusion of vocals on a majority of the tracks. These are for the most part executed by the duo themselves, but the album also features performances by guest singers, notably Kate Havnevik, whose celestial voice distinguishes the first single Only this moment
In an interview with Norwegian daily Aftenposten the two further reveal that the beats are heavier, and that as a whole the album is darker and deeper, yet more immediate than the debut due to the emphasise on melody. Those who are after the airy scapes and light beats of ‘Melody’ might have to wait for number three.
The Understanding: Will be released by Wall of sound in Europe (and globally) and Astralwerks in the US on:
28th June-Everywhere else