The millennium was fast approaching when Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge joined forces to create electronic outfit, Röyksopp, a Norwegian for a puffball mushroom (or, more dangerously, an atomic mushroom cloud). Their native Tromsø had previously been associated with the Northern Lights (and perhaps the cold). However, 2001 saw them unveil their debut record, Melody AM. Released on British label Wall of Sound, the duo put their Scandinavian stamp on proceedings with an effortlessly cool record – pushing a new angle for contemporary electronic music
It was perhaps the unique vision for Melody AM that set it apart from other electronic music of the time, drawing sonic remnants from Ibiza Chillout albums and combining them with a downtempo post-dubstep attitude, which would be properly realised a decade later. All the singles give off that air of recognizability; So Easy (championed by T-Mobile), Eple (receiving widespread plaudits and airplay), Poor Leno (a cartoon bear in captivity, backed by a fanfare of steel pans) and Remind Me (Someone Else’s Mix with a hugely successful infographic video).
This album is not built upon good singles alone. We have heartache personified in Sparks and a dreamy, subtle effort with In Space. Sixth track A Higher Place stakes its claim as a standout track, spanning a plethora of influences to deliver four minutes of encapsulating material. The album closes with the eerie joint track offering of 40 Years Back/ Come, where the haunting trumpets crescendo into a redolent and crisp chill out affair. Come ends an altogether well produced record with a tense, somewhat harrowing synth .
Following the success of Melody AM, Röyksopp ventured on, ploughing a different furrow with each release, whilst all retaining the consistent element of a danceable sensibility. Their strengths have continued to be recognised in an underground capacity, bringing forth three more LPs in the form of The Understanding, Junior and Senior. However, their debut could well have been the best of the lot – this creative, exceptional debut was nominated for all number of awards in Europe and went platinum in its native Norway. So here’s to Melody AM, a seemingly ageless record, perfectly fashioned for the pensive electronic listener.