Casually taking care of some backlog here …
During the past few weeks, I’ve been referring some friends to this somewhat dormant blog – not as an ego thing to drive traffic (of which there literally isn’t any), but rather due to an inquisitive interest in this band or that.
Obviously, this site isn’t a comprehensive list of what’s what and who’s who. It barely skims the surface of even my tastes. But most people who know me know those particular tastes and what they stand for. So it makes a certain kind of sense to just straight-up ask me. And moreso, for me to just straight-up show them, via this site you see before you. After all, I have a lot of random specific info and a surplus of excessive thoughts, as well as a hefty collection of concert footage, eclectic, spontaneous, and sometimes great.
Anyway, all of this has been amping up my motivation to post up more of these seemingly past-life live shows (thank you, Covid) and “liked” songs from my back catalogue of audio addictive goodness. Consequently, it’s proving to be a great database of the ever-evolving soundtrack for life thus far.
That brings me back to 2017, waxing pre-pre-pandemic nostalgia at DTLA’s clubby Novo Theatre for a midweek layover (between dual weekend Coachella’s) from Norwegian electronic duo Röyksopp.
Going on near 20 years, I’ve oft enjoyed the downbeat disco house beats weaved and wondered by core members Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland. Two decades ago, I first stumbled upon the carefree bleep and bounce of their debut single “Eple,” and its accompanying ’01 album “Melody A.M.”
They’ve since crafted four additional albums of quirky dance-ability for their repertoire, sampling the usual suspects of trance and house and spinning them in heady off-kilter tangentials and boundless vanishing points. Think Boards of Canada or Groove Armada, but not so much literal sonics, as say artistic aesthetics and overall mindset – just a general all-around inclination to color outside the lines, wandering off the beaten path, paving new ones, etc.
That said, their “final” album, the aptly titled “The Inevitable End,” came out in ’14, which in current pandemic terms, qualifies as a really long fucking time ago. And if the internet is to be believed, that’s the end of that road. As a co-worker I know would say, That’s done-so.
Thankfully, Röyksopp, who’s name I just learned stands for a certain class of mushrooms known as “puffballs,” didn’t really call it quits. And by the way, I still can’t believe I didn’t know that little bit of trivia, as it makes soooo much sense.
But getting back on point, the duo still perform live in various capacities, as well as remix remixes of remixes and all that tasty good ear-candy stuff. And during the pandemic, they graciously graced Spotify with an evolving collection of unreleased material, all collated in their simply titled “Lost Tapes” playlist, featuring collaborations with Lykki Li, Susanne Sundfør, and Man Without Country.
Here’s a link to that playlist.
So who knows … maybe the pandemic’s given them newfound cause to craft new material all over again. Hell, everyone’s had to do something while in their own personal version of quarantine and lockdown. It’s clearly been more than a minute since their “final” album.
But hey, I’m getting ahead of myself, with increasing speculation and hope. Let’s just leave it at things are re-opening and live music is on the comeback trail. And with any luck, it’ll all start falling into place … as it should.
Röyksopp’s ’17 Novo appearance is perhaps their most intimate performance I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. Granted, it’s not like I saw them in the early days, so any tiny venue they played definitely missed my radar. But the Novo is small enough to lack any “bad” viewing areas. And as said earlier, the show occurred between Coachella weekend billings. So headlining a club-sized venue probably offered a pleasant respite from the maddening crowds.
I also didn’t catch them at either of those festival dates. But I’ve seen them previously at the very large and historic Hollywood Bowl, for a pair of epic team-up/co-headline performances with Swedish pop mage and collaborator Robyn. The two shows occurred in different years, Röyksopp headlining one, and Robyn the other. In both cases, they shared artists. And with a full band behind them, Röyksopp are a truly transcendent wonder to behold. Sadly, I have no audio/visual records to support my case.
The Novo show was far leaner, embracing the traditional Röyksopp stage presence, the duo performing DJ-style with an LED-laden table-top of electro gear and gadgetry. But with one exceptional highlight … ethereal vocals by the enigmatic Swedish audio/visual artist Jonna Lee, who some might recognize as the force behind the esoteric iamamiwhoami and the artsy ionnalee.
Below is a colorful collection of captured light and sound that I’ve managed to conjure from my archives. And seriously, thank the higher forces that I had the forethought to record this stuff. I mean, who knew we’d be without live music for so long.
Anyway, truth be told, I’m pretty sure I started this post a year ago, and it’s just been sitting in the blog’s “draft” pile, waiting for me to overcome my pandemic PTSD, and thus, regain my motivation and enthusiasm. Not sure I’m entirely there yet. But like I said … we’re re-opening …
Not surprisingly, on-stage, these songs tend to kick it up a few decibels in tempo and force. And again, in true DJ-decorum, Röyksopp keep a somewhat continuous mix and remix vibe cooking for a cool hour and a half. I didn’t record all that, only catching a few highlight songs and snippets. So that particular feature may or may not translate. It was long time ago, so I don’t exactly recall my headspace for why’s and why not’s.
No matter, though. What’s here is solid nonetheless. There’s the aforementioned “Eple,” a Jonna Lee rendition of the Robyn collaboration “Monument,” and even an intensely effervescent ionalee cover of Julee Cruise’s “Twin Peaks” anthem “Mysteries of Love,” as well as a few additional classics.
Settle in and allow Röyksopp’s vibrant offerings to hold you over, at least until live music is returns to our lives once again.
Röyksopp perform “Senior Living” at the Novo on 04.20.17.
Röyksopp perform “Monument” at the Novo on 04.20.17.
Röyksopp perform “Never Ever” at the Novo on 04.20.17.
Röyksopp perform “Eple” at the Novo on 04.20.17.
Röyksopp perform Julee Cruise’s “Mysteries of Love” at the Novo on 04.20.17.
Röyksopp perform “What Else is There?” at the Novo on 04.20.17.
Röyksopp perform “This Must Be It” at the Novo on 04.20.17.
The obligatory setlist as playlist …
And while I’m at it, here’s a very groovy remix of Röyksopp ‘s ’16 single “Never Ever” from Finnish DJ/producer Yotto, spotlighting Sundfør on vocals, bedded by a lively trance-centric tech-house beat. The track appears as one of the above and aforementioned clips. It’s also a focal point for yet another unrealized post, originally intended for pre-pandemic consumption. And of course, it’s a post-“The Inevitable End” composition, which takes a small bite of finality out of their “final” album.
Lastly, I just dig the way it sounds. It’s helped me through plenty of monotonous work days, both pre, current, and soon-to-be post-pandemic (although, seriously, we know this shit is going to be with us for a long time, so “post” doesn’t necessarily mean “done”). So you get my drift.
Now, it just makes sense to include it here. Enjoy!