Arts & CultureMusic

Review: Röyksopp’s ‘The Inevitable End’ emphasizes the duo’s experimental nature

My personal introduction to Röyksopp was the summer before my freshman year of college. I happened upon a gem, their 2010 album Senior, when combing through a case of 50 plus CDs handed down to me by my high school soccer coach. The heavy pulse, continuous build-up and transitions in the track “The Alcoholic” hooked me. Thus, my first listen allowed me to sink into the clever, unusual world of Röyksopp.

The Norwegian production team of Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland, known as Röyksopp, released their latest album on Nov. 1o. This album has been in the works since their last release of Senior back in 2010. The duo from Tromsø, Norway, formed in 1998, has been a powerhouse in terms of constant releases and innovation of sound ever since their first album, Melody AM, in 2001.

Regardless of strong audience responses, Berge and Torbjørn make clear that the first and foremost goal behind their music is to innovate and push their limits. Although known predominantly for their electronic emphasis, Röyksopp continuously experiments with various genres under the umbrella of electronic music. At times they are associated with house music, ambient or even trip-hop. According to Svein, the latest, extensive 17-track album “is not a dance album at all. This is home listening as far as we’re concerned. It’s headphones music.”

With The Inevitable End, the two producers focused on matching their vocalists to specific tracks that would rhythmically fit their range. They have pointed to the importance of voice-track matching on the overall takeaway of a song for a number of years, but have seemed to hone in on this ability with their most recent album. The number of strong vocalists that were matched to particular tracks is outstanding. Their variety of brilliant vocalists only greater emphasizes the production duo’s multifaceted nature. To that end, a new dimension is attributed to this compilation due to the deeper themes running through the lyrics in opposition to the often, more upbeat sounds.

“Rong,” the seventh track on The Inevitable End, clocking in at two minutes and 33 seconds is a clear demonstration of the deeper element implemented within this album. While you are carried with an upbeat tempo for the entirety of the tune, the lyrics repeat, menacingly, “What the fuck is wrong with you?” The female vocals are painted over the symphony of orchestral instruments that are introduced halfway into the tune, as if aiming to serenade or tease. The misleading production work coordinate with the soft vocals to ultimately subdue the listener.

On a separate note, it seems that the title, The Inevitable End, should be taken quite literally. While the duo hasn’t made definitively clear whether they are through with releasing full albums or not, they did offer the following statement: “We feel like this is a goodbye to the traditional album format. In our consecutive run of albums, we have been able to say what we want to say and do what we want to do with the LP. We’re not going to stop making music, but the album format as such, this is the last thing from us…”

Never fear, folks! Even if Röyksopp won’t be releasing this format of album again any time soon, they will surely make strides in some new creative feats and release collaborative projects along the way. After all, the power team has barely taken a moment away from producing in the past and they seem to remain as driven as ever.

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Ghoncheh Azadeh

Ghoncheh Azadeh