I'll be the first to admit. I like Röyksopp. I always have. I liked their last album, The Understanding, when nobody else did. Not just because it featured vocals by The Knife's Karin Dreijer Andersson, but because it was full of songs with texture and vibrancy and progressive dimensions.
Others didn't like it as much as they liked the first album, Melody A.M. That's okay. Wrong, but okay. They are both great albums.
And if you've ever seen Röyksopp live you'd have to agree that they rock pretty hard for a chilled out electronic duo from Norway. They can actually play instruments, not just laptops, and they have good voices. They sing most of their material, usually sung on album by guest vocalists, themselves.
But hey, I'm not here to make you a believer. I only mention this stuff because the internet is buzzing with how "unexpecatedly good" the new Röyksopp Back To Mine mix CD is.
And it is. Really good. The best thing about the Back To Mine series is how every one is a discovery about where an artist is coming from, either in a straight-forward fashion, or totally abstract. The Orb's comp was fairly normal, while MJ Cole gave us classical music blending into Hip-Hop. That one blew me away. Orbital surprised me with their love of PJ Harvey and old-style rocking pop. The worst of the bunch was Underworld's all-over-the-place mixtape. Just bad.
Röyksopp cleverly give us a mix of old and rare favorites (Harry Thumann, Kasso) some amazing disco (by none other than Edgar Winter!?!?) some proggy electronics (thank you Mike Oldfield) and even a little Funkadelic. With the astonishing effect of making me turn to the CD case over and over again to check who was playing.
In a note on the CD Royksopp apologize for editing some of the songs, and when I read that I just assumed that meant they'd done there own remixes or vocals (something they've done in the past with bands like Mekon and Annie, who's debut album they co-produced). But their edits are totally unobtrussive and their mixing is quite good.
I had never heard the Harry Thumann song Sphinx, from 1983, before and I was certain (read: absolutely, totally convinced) that they had added their own vocals to that track, it's just sooooo Röyksopp-ish. But they hadn't, they were just giving us some insight into the world they inhabit. Same with the fantastic Edgar Winter track, Above and Beyond, which is banged up next to and into Ray Mang & Nathan D'Troit's Off Side. Edgar gets some squelchy punch and Off Side gets a little disco boogie. It's really fantastic!
I don't want to give away all the surprises in the mix, but I will let you know there's a new, totally weird Röyksopp tune under the alias Emmanuel Spice. The vocals on that are tripped out to fucking space!
Look, all I'm saying is you don't have to be a believer, like me to enjoy this CD. But it just might change your mind, if you aren't part of their following already.
A couple of full length sample of both the Harry Thumann track and Edgar Winter (mixed by Tom Moulton for heavens sake!) can be found below. Enjoy!
Harry Thumann - Sphinx
Edgar Winter - Above And Beyond
The Harry Thumann track was originally hosted by the fantastic blog, As Restless As We Are. His blog is the shit so go visit it now!
This post can also be found at The Stranger's music only blog,