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One of the most beloved and best selling artists in the electronic genre, Royksopp returns with this highly anticipated 2nd album The Understanding. Combining lush atmospherics with swoonworthy pop, the Norwegian duo deliver a delectable follow-up to their worldwide hit Melody AM. Contains 12 total tracks. Astralwerks. 2005.
In 2002, the Norwegian duo of Svein Berge and Torbjorn Brundtland found a sweet spot between wispy Moon Safari-style pop and Boards of Canada-like atmospherics on the widely-admired Melody A.M. The Understanding sounds relatively absent-minded, careening around the room like a panicky fly. Some of it works well; the bouncy "Only This Moment" resembles Fischerspooner at their silliest (and thus, most fun), while "49 Percent" gets a huge lift from a New Jack vocal courtesy of Chelonis R. Jones. But the record is too often thwarted by syrupy synth-pop ("Follow My Ruin") as well as the lack of shifty downtempo rhythms and avant-garde underpinnings that kept Melody so pleasantly grounded. They havent lost their knack for subtle hooks and well-placed cross-rhythms, like the slippery keyboard squibble that glides its way into "What Else Is There?" But the sophomore curse is hard to overcome, and though theres plenty here to recommend, Berge and Brundtland arent able to break the spell. NOTE: The limited edition version of the record includes an all-new 5-song B-Side EP. Matthew CookeSee all Editorial Reviews
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The answer is "The Understanding," an absolute gem of a disc that builds on the bands beginnings and takes their music one step beyond, creating swirling cinematic melodies coupled with beautiful, emotive, yet understated vocals. The first single and video, "Only This Moment" is sublime. (Be sure to check out the video online at the Astralwerks website.) The song is plaintive, emotional, melancholy, and at the same time "funky", albeit in a Norwegian Electronica sort of way.
I have had this disc for two weeks and it has yet to leave my CD player. Call it electronica, dance, downtempo,or whatever you like... this music is gorgeous and cinematic. Music based in electronica can sometimes be cold and inaccessible, but Royksopp know how to put emotion in their music. Royksopp's music is rather hard to categorize... Let's call it "Norwegian Bliss".
Note: The limited edition 2CD set is worth the extra few dollars! It includes bonus tracks, mainly instrumental, unavailable elsewhere.
Well, The Understanding...takes some understanding. After Melody AM, you wonder "Why the heck did they go in this direction?" You may feel like they spit in your eye with this one. I guess it takes an open mind. If you're the type of person who enjoys many genres, I can't see why you wouldn't like at least half of this album. I liked "Only This Moment" the moment I heard it; the vocals work so well together and it makes me feel...I don't know...hopeful or something (corny, I know). "Circuit Breaker" is funky and I like its energy, much like "49 Percent". "49 Percent" is my tie for fave with "Only This Moment". "Alphamale" does nothing for me, personally. "What Else Is There" was hard for me to swallow at first, but then it grew on me. It has a sort of desolate, macabre feel to it for me...I can imagine being in a desert at night, full of hallucinogenes and feeling insignificant against nature when I listen to it...and the chick singing really sounds a lot like Cindy Lauper, though not as eccentric. I feel that if you're truly a lover of music, you'll at least like this CD.
I noticed reviewers saying things like "I liked this until I heard it in Electronics Boutique" or "I loved it until it went mainstream." I really hate when people say things like "I loved this until it became mainstream," or "I wish everyone else would stay away from my genre of music." Good music is good music and no one has the right to try to horde music like some stingy troll or rancid dragon hording a stolen treasure. Personally, I feel that if you can't like something simply because other people like it or "play it out" then you're just a fickle supporter at best.
That being said, The Understanding doesn't compare to Melody AM, regardless of how aware I am of the different paths the two CDs follow. You won't suffer a great loss if you don't pick it up, like you would if you ignored Melody AM...but you won't be buying the worst CD on the planet if you get it. I don't know if that helps much, but there it is.
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The sound I excellent but it lacks a bit in lover part in the bass.