Living in America can sometimes be isolating. School teaches us very little about foreign nations, and as adults we often shape our opinions around outdated stereotypes and movies. Norway, for example, is a place that many of us know little or nothing about. Oslo, the nation's capital, is where President Obama received his Nobel Peace Prize. It's also the birthplace of Norway's most successful music group A-ha, who shot to stardom in 1985 with their hit single "Take On Me." The city of Tromsø (located 1050 miles north of Oslo) is one of the best spots in the world to view Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). Also known as the "Techno Capital of Norway," Tromsø has produced many talented musicians like Bjørn Torske, Frost, Kings of Convenience's guitarist/songwriter Erlend Øye, and most notably Röyksopp's Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge, who in late November lit up New York City's Webster Hall brighter than Tromsø's winter skies.
The show got underway with their epic new song "Röyksopp Forever," off the duo's most recent record, Junior. Svein Berge describes the song as "a moment of self-indulgence," and the smoke effects combined with Webster Hall's lighting only enhanced Röyksopp's potent audio transmission. Another message that sent fans into a frenzy was the pop hit "Remind Me," made famous (in America) by the 2006 Geico commerical where we see the caveman in an airport terminal as he comes across the degrading "It's so easy a caveman could do it" ad. Everybody's reaction to "Remind Me" was a surprise considering all of Berge and Brundtland's other colossal orchestrations like 2005's "Alpha Male," which was crowd tested later in the show, but not as crowd approved as the caveman song. The infectious beats continued pulsating as a variety of lighting patterns radiated throughout the venue. There were moments when you could see dust particles vibrating in a beautiful blue and purple mist. Full blown audio and visual stimulation was the evening's theme, and Röyksopp came fully loaded.
When questioned about the four year gaps between albums Berge talked about the band's desire for "a lasting quality in the music, so it stands the test of time." "To make things immediate and long-lasting, that is the goal," and for those of us lucky enough to experience Röyksopp in concert will forever understand the true strength of Norweigan techno. Let's review what we've learned today: The Nobel Peace Prize is presented in Oslo, the Capital of Norway. The only treasure in Tromsø more valuable than its Aurora Borealis is the music of Röyksopp. So the next time you feel isolated from our neighbors across the pond don't turn on the news, just put on a Röyksopp album, close your eyes, and think of the 50 million albums A-ha sold worldwide.
Webster Hall, New York, NY, USA, November 23, 2009
Story by Sam Frank ©2009