Röyksopp, Melody A.M. (2002)

One of the overlooked benefits of the explosion of techno in the past decade is how it's opened up the English-speaking world to acts from other countries. In the 1980s a Nena or a Falco was the exception, a one hit wonder with novelty value, while the few European acts to last more than a single or two did so by singing in English.

We still aren't at the point where German vocal pop regularly storms the US or UK top ten, but European artists are no longer such a novelty thanks to instrumental electronica. Norway's Röyksopp is one of the latest acts to benefit from this broadening musical horizon—or, looking at it another way, one of the latest benefits of it.

The duo's glittering debut, Melody A.M., leads off with the swirling pizzicato of 'So Easy' and maintains its high standards throughout. 'Eple' pushes its beats into the territory of dog whistles; 'Sparks' is pure smooth jazz; 'Poor Leno' is infectious straightforward dance. 'A Higher Place' is essence of Moby refined and distilled, minus the advertising overtones, while 'Röyksopp's Night Out' is a fusion of 1970s disco funk and 2001 techno spread over seven and a half dark minutes.

Melody A.M. is a kaleidoscope of kicking sounds for kicking back: at times the last word in chillout, at others taut and dramatic. Its melodies have rarely been far from my CD player this year, A.M. or P.M.

First published at Records Ad Nauseam, 13 May 2002.


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