Album: Röyksopp

The Understanding, WALL OF SOUND
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The Independent Culture

With this follow-up to Melody AM, Torbjorn Brundtland and Svein Berge effectively establish themselves as the Scandinavian equivalent of Air. This is not necessarily a good thing, as The Understanding is every bit as gossamer and insubstantial as the French duo's output has been since their own debut. Tracks like "Dead To The World" and "Alpha Male" are little more than hip muzak, the grimly methodical arrangements making the scaling of the most insignificant musical peaks seem like a great achievement, while the more active "Circuit Breaker" scuttles nowhere fast. The vocals don't help, being mostly murmurs intended to offer as little disturbance as possible to the tracks' hyper-logical progress. They may mumble something about being "lost in confusion" in "Only This Moment", but confusion is the quality in shortest supply on The Understanding. When Karin Dreijer sings of "flashlights, nightmares, sudden explosions" in "What Else Is There?", it's hard not to be struck by how absent such excitements are from the plodding arrangement. Elsewhere, one strains to find a notable element or two which might bring a little enduring character to what are essentially lifeless compositions. Coming soon to a lift near you.