Röyksopp‘s back at last, Röykstans.
Many moons ago, about fifteen years deep into their career, the Norwegian electronic duo announced that they were done releasing full-length records, and that 2014’s The Inevitable End would be their final studio album in the traditional sense.
Some people aren’t good at keeping their promises. And in this case, that’s a very good thing for us.
In the time since that announcement, the duo – individually Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland – continued to collaborate with other artists and work on various projects, as well as sharing bonus tracks, live songs and rarities in the form of their Lost Tapes series, until it suddenly came screeching to a halt at the top of 2021.
“It simply means that we are pausing Lost Tapes for a while,” they wrote at the time, “in order for us to focus our efforts on other endeavors. There is no drama related to this decision. Quite the opposite. Let’s just say that we have to go back on a promise we made in the past – but hopefully to some elation.”
Exactly one year later, we’re here now with what appears to the fruits of those endeavors…and pressing “R.”
Röyksopp relaunched their social media accounts just in time for the New Year, along with a landing page on their official website featuring a new interlocked symbol, retitling the page “Profound Mysteries” – presumably an album title.
Clicking on the “R” button leads to several incredible sounding snippets, and as of this month, the duo dropped a brief new song called “(Nothing But) Ashes…” that seemingly ushers in a new era.
There’s an accompanying visualizer as well, traveling through a colorful, metallic landscape towards what looks vaguely like an elongated version of Ariana Grande‘s Dangerous Woman bunny ears. (It’s all a bit iamamiwhoami, actually.)
After The Inevitable End comes…the inevitable comeback, and I couldn’t be happier.
Back in December, the duo dropped a perfectly curated “Introduction to Röyksopp” playlist on Spotify and YouTube, which I highly recommend digging into.
Here are just a few of my own suggestions, most of which are included in their playlist…
“What Else Is There?”
The duo shines brightest when it comes to collaborations with incredible women in music, and “What Else Is There?” with Karin Dreijer from The Knife is among one of their greatest achievements. The song harnesses Karin’s unique vocals across a classic, contemplative Röyksopp electronic pulse. The album that this comes from – The Understanding – is an all-time favorite, desert island, must have album.
“Only This Moment”
Goddess Kate Havnevik lends her heavenly voice to “Only This Moment,” an utterly sublime, tragic, romantic, deeply dramatic ode to the varying emotions of an intense romantic relationship. “Voices within me mix reason with lust but I’ll try to accept it and not make it worse, ’cause I know I might lose it by taking the chance, but love without pain isn’t really romance.” Close to perfection, indeed. At one point, I strongly considered a tattoo of the single art. (The MuuMuse stans might already know just how personal this song is for me…)
“I Had This Thing”
In another world, this is a stone-cold dance floor classic known ’round the world, on the level of a “Dancing On My Own.” Crying at the discotheque is an understatement: Röyksopp’s knack for crafting emotional electronica reaches staggering new heights on this ode to an end of a relationship, which feels like the end of the world, as captured in the accompanying music video. Jamie Irrepressible‘s trembling vocals, the surging pulse, the increasingly urgent cries of “I never meant to let you go.” I have openly wept to this song on the streets of New York City, and I will surely do it again.
“Running to the Sea”
An absolute masterpiece from their (then) final album, through and through. The talented Susanne Sundfør leads the way through a gradually expands from a simple piano through a bed of synthesizers and celestial sounds as it builds, and builds, and builds to ecstatic heights.
A few years later, the trio teamed up again for a more joyous dance floor celebration, in the form of “Never Ever.” Among other things, it contains a stuttering beat breakdown two-thirds into the track that is nothing short of absolute catharsis and love-drunk euphoria. “Never ever gonna let you go now…”
Robyn and Röyksopp go together like Janet and Jam & Lewis. “Monument” is perhaps their most epic offering from their Do It Again EP, expanding out into the cosmos and providing plenty of introspection and existentialism along the way.
“Do It Again”
Again, it’s a perfect sonic pairing. And sorely underrated, at that. They do it again and again, quite literally.
This track is an absolutely wild crossover event, which will only be meaningful to an extremely niche audience: it was originally released as “Sing a Song” by Japanese singer Eri Nobuchika, produced by the iconic Shinichi Osawa. It was later covered/recreated as a sorta collapse-of-civilization anthem with the talented Anneli Drecker for Junior.
“The Girl & The Robot”
Did I mention that Robyn and Röyksopp work together often? Years before their EP, the three crafted Junior banger “The Girl And The Robot,” a perfect blend of Body Talk-era robo-minded dance-pop Robyn and Röyksopp’s beats and bleeps of the era.
“Were You Ever Wanted”
Speaking of Swedish goddesses! Imagine crafting so many smashes that this Lykke Li-assisted drifting, dreamy banger is just lingering in the bonus track drawer. The song was performed live over the years, and was a Japan only-exclusive for Junior.
And that’s just scratching the surface, really. Whether you’re doing a refresh or discovering for the first time, go ahead and take a deep dive into their discography immediately as we await the Profound Mysteries that lie ahead in 2022.