Album: Royksopp

Melody AM, Wall of Sound
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The Independent Culture

Melody am is the début release from Svein Berge and Torbjorn Brundtland, the Norwegians who make up the hotly tipped house duo Röyksopp. The advance buzz is well founded, too, as befits a band whose stated intention is to combine Satie-esque harmonies and melodies like those of Francis Lai with the best aspects of three decades of electronic dance music: that Seventies analogue warmth, those fat Eighties beats and that meticulous Nineties programming. It's a formula perfectly exemplified by the opening "So Easy", a slice of chilled loungecore built by strapping a Bacharach easy-listening sample to languid, striding funk bass and a quirky little drum programme that prefers to hop, skip and jump to its own internal rhythm rather than follow transient beat fashions. The rest of the album follows in like manner, with chunky beats allied to widescreen ambiences, catchy melodies and an unbreakable air of understated cool. It's a formula that allows plenty of room to explore: the single "Eple", for instance, moves into techno-breakbeat territory, with shimmering keyboard textures and airily modulating synthesiser lines. Elsewhere, "Poor Leno" resembles a less ebullient Basement Jaxx, with echoing timbales spicing up a glacial disco stomp, while the concluding "40 Years Back/Come" runs spindly, etiolated synth lines around rasping, squelchy beats before closing with warm fretless bass. Always interesting, rarely routine, Melody AM is that rarity: a chill-out album that retains its grip on one's attention from first to last.

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