Röyksopp have announced details of their new album ‘Profound Mysteries II’. Check out new singles ‘Unity’ and ‘Sorry’ below, along with our interview with Svein Berge from the duo.
The second part of their current project and follow-up to this year’s ‘Profound Mysteries‘ will be released on August 19, and sees the Norwegian electronic pioneers exploring “reoccurring themes such as love and loss, despair and reconciliation” while also being “wrapped up in an esoteric nod to those artists and genres that shaped us in our formative years”.
“We are focussing on what we call ‘the mystery’ – it’s rather pompous, I know,” Berge told NME. “We even added ‘profound’ to turn up the nobhead-hood of it all! But anyway, the thing with ‘part two’ in particular is that with this one, we point to the inspirational genres and artists who helped to forge us when we were kids.
“For the keen ear, you’ll notice the heavy references. We’ve always had that in our music, but this time it’s more blatant. It’s meant as a tribute, not a rip-off. You’ll find things that could point to the likes of Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode, but also genres like Italo Disco and ‘90s UK rave.”
Berge explained how “the over-arching thing with ‘Profound Mysteries’ is to trigger your imagination – to get your senses going” as well as posing “existential questions”. Many fans have noticed how the vivid lyricism and bittersweet sounds from ‘part one’ harked back to their seminal debut ‘Melody AM’, while also introducing new elements.
“It’s kind of what we do and what we always have done,” he said. “We hail from the club scene. The UK and mainland Europe was very influential on us in our teens – with the whole rave thing and so on; hence, the Ibiza warmth that one can detect. But also, we unintentionally have those vast soundscapes that come from the Nordic fjords and all the clichés. For whatever reason, we always return to that. We like that ambiguity in music where you’re being almost manipulated to feel happy and sad at the same time.”
Explaining how the first instalment of ‘Profound Mysteries’ was intended as Röyksopp “re-emerging”, Berge explained how ‘part two’ would develop those ideas further.
“The previous album was obviously ‘The Inevitable End’ ,” he said. “Although there are reoccurring themes throughout our discography, that album was dealing with loss, death and the final demise. From time to time, it was quite bleak. We wanted to have the gentle transition with ‘Profound Mysteries’ where we come out of the woods. That’s why we’ve made this project that’s this continuous, holistic experience.”
Lyrically and in terms of songwriting, the new record sees the band reaching for something much “simpler” than their previous albums.
“In the beginning, and particularly on ‘The Understanding’ , we wanted to do odd arrangements and be strange,” Berge explained. “We said, ‘Let’s be so indie that nobody gets it’. On this project, we wanted to have those indie, creative pop moments, but also the more simplistic lyrical approach – accompanied by the vocal melodies.
“I don’t mean that it becomes so contemporary that it’s just one note and one word saying, ‘Gucci Gucci Gucci’, but definitely leaning more towards a simpler structure with the semantics and the vocals.”
He added: “They’re not all like that. There is one song called ‘Tell Him’ with Susanne, and that’s a bit more ‘traditional singer-songwriter’. It’s our little nod to the Fleetwood Macs and Neil Youngs of the word. It’s obviously not as good as that. It’s still Röyksopp, but it follows a more traditional recipe in terms of how to construct a track.”
‘Profound Mysteries II’ is being previewed by the singles ‘Sorry’ featuring Jamie Irrepressible, and ‘Unity’ featuring Karen Harding. ‘Part two’ is another guest-packed record, featuring collaborations with Pixx, Susanne Sundfør and Astrid S – who also featured on ‘part one’ alongside Alison Goldfrapp and Beki Mari.
“We want to work with these people because they are talented and exciting artists,” said Berge. “Some of them we haven’t worked with before, which is nice for getting a new spin on how to write music. Alison Goldfrapp doesn’t need any introduction – she’s great, fun and a thrill to work with. She has a place in electronic music history.”
He continued: “Then we have the returning Norwegian chartreuse Susanne Sundfør, who we’ve worked with in the past. I just find that when I write a certain kind of song – perhaps erring more on the more melancholic side – I tend to write them with Susanne’s voice in my head. She’s very often put to work on those tracks, because she has that vibe.
“She is just such an amazing artist in every way, shape and form. It’s so fun to work with her, because she might come across as this melancholic person, but she’s quite the opposite. She can just shift gears and put so much emotion into what she does.”
As for rising Norwegian artist Astrid S, Berge said: “She’s the one to have taken the most people by surprise. She comes from more of a pure pop background and is quite a lot younger than us.
“That was interesting because the people we work with, like Robyn and Alison Goldfrapp, usually have the same reference points – musically and pop-culturally. But Astrid, she comes from a different place. We like to mix it up to feel invigorated and not grow stale as artists. We need to be pushed.”
Berge explained how he came across Brit School graduate Pixx after discovering videos of her on YouTube and becoming “intrigued by her music writing and vocal talents”.
“I’ve always been a fan of most things to come from the label 4AD,” he said. “She had that 4AD-ness to her. She’s a unique talent in her own right, but she has that unusual quality. She’s a fun person with interesting takes on writing music and melodies. In my head, she has a mystic quality to her and is so enigmatic.”
Karen Harding, meanwhile, was brought on board to bring “that nod to the club scene that we grew up with”. “I use the word ‘rave’ loosely, but I mean a touch of The KLF and a touch of the classic house screamer – but dialled down,” Berge explained. “That’s why we wanted her voice for the song ‘Unity’. We actually wrote that track in 1992 in my bedroom. We thought it would be nice to bring it up and made it like we made it back then.”
The duo also have a number of live shows on the horizon, which Berge said they were hoping to make as “immersive as possible” having met some hiccups and logistical problems due to the COVID pandemic.
“We had to make some moves and do some adjustments, but I think we still have something that’s really nice and focusses on the full, immersive experience – rather than it being a case of, ‘OK people, here’s our next song’,” he said. “We’re leaning more towards a conceptual A-Z immersive experience that draws on club culture and the likes of Kraftwerk.”
Asked if they were planning any shows in the UK, Europe and beyond, Berge sounded optimistic.
“We’ve tried to bring something together outside of Scandinavia, and I hope that we get to do something before Christmas – otherwise it’s going to be early next year,” he said. “Currently it’s ill-shaped and half-baked, but we need to find a way to best do it.”
‘Profound Mysteries II’ is released on August 19. Check out the full tracklist below:
1. ‘Demiclad Baboons’
2. ‘Let’s Get It Right’ (feat. Astrid S)
3. ‘Unity’ (feat. Karen Harding)
4. ‘Oh, Lover’ (feat. Susanne Sundför)
5. ‘Sorry’ (feat. Jamie Irrepressible)
7. ‘It Was A Good Thing’ (feat. Pixx)
8. ‘Remembering The Departed’
9. ‘Tell Him’ (feat. Susanne Sundför)
10. ‘Some Resolve’
Röyksopp will also be embarking on the below tour dates this summer:
16 – Oslo PIP – Oslo, Norway
18 – Bergenfest – Bergen, Norway
22 – MoldeJazz 2022 – Molde, Norway
29 – Pørtor Pensjonat – Stabbestad, Norway
20 – Parkenfestivalen 2022 – Bodø, Norway
26 – Verket Festival – Mo I Rana, Norway
27 – Rakettnatt – Tromsø, Norway
3 – Cala Mijas 2022 – Mijas, Spain
10 – Bolivar Beach Bar – Athens, Greece (DJ set)