After a break of a couple of years, Röyksopp seemed to reappear from nowhere at the end of 2012, initially with just a live performance of a new track Running to the Sea, coupled with a cover version of Ice Machine. A year later, after having been an enormous hit in the meantime back home in Norway, it reappeared as a full single, with added remixes and extra stuff.
The lead track is inconceivably brilliant. Susanne Sundfør‘s vocal just seems to drift perfectly over a truly exquisite backing, which over the first couple of minutes builds with every bar to become something incredibly powerful and evocative. The lyrics perhaps aren’t the best ever, but there are some very memorable lines, and the melody more than makes up for it. Towards the end, a repeated snare sound turns up to punctuate the layers of sound, before it all falls apart at the end. If Röyksopp were good before, they might have just achieved legendary status.
The new b-side is Something in My Heart, featuring the quite incredible vocal performance of Jamie McDermott from The Irrepressibles. Perhaps unsurprisingly after the lead track, it’s another fine moment. It’s perhaps less joyous and more introspective than the lead track, but the chorus is extremely strong. More than good enough to be a single in its own right, this bodes extremely well for the next Röyksopp album.
Perhaps I’m showing my age, but I find it rare for a package of remixes to have many highlights these days. Often the remixers manage to completely miss the point of the original, or just go off on some self-indulgent flight of fantasy for ten minutes or so. Somehow though, on Running to the Sea, every track is brilliant.
The first remix, a 12-minute deep house odyssey from Pachanga Boys draws out every thread of the original and adds lots of extra bobbly electronic bits. The piano part doesn’t even turn up until seven minutes in, and the vocal never actually appears, but somehow all the feeling and energy of the original is retained.
Villa‘s remix is not hugely different from the original, in many ways – it adds a rhythmic house beat and a bit of extra background frippery, and the backing is perhaps a little more subdued, but otherwise it serves as a very good alternative version. The LNTG remix takes things in a slightly different direction, losing most of the instrumentation from the original, but is no less enjoyable, with its enormous analogue synth pads and deep electronic backing.
The Man Without Country remix is less outstanding – apart from a handful of elements from the original, the backing is mainly just a bit of drumming and reverb this time. DJ HMC‘s version is similar to Villa‘s in many ways, but brings in some nice new pad elements to turn the track into something slightly different. It burbles long with some very pleasant noises and the occasional “like breaking diamonds,” for a few minutes, and then reaches its natural conclusion.
Magnus & Timon‘s version is perhaps the weakest of the lot. It keeps plenty of elements from the original, but doesn’t seem to add anything particular to replace what it lost. The main crescendo is just a slightly noisy electronic mess. The final mix is probably the best of the lot – Seven Lions turns up to turn the original into something that sits somewhere between euphoric trance and dubstep. It’s an eclectic mix, and it’s also entirely brilliant.
Röyksopp‘s return to the world of music is a very welcome one, and it’s great to hear them turn up with such an exceptional set of remixes. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for a new album soon.