There was a time when A-Ha carried the mantle of globally-successful Norwegian bands, but the arrival of Royksopp's Torbjorn Brundtland and Svein Berge inspired a whole new generation of melodic electronica, making Norway, and Scandinavia in general, the go-to place for hopeful A&R scouts looking for a new sound. And what a sound: gorgeous pop melodies layered over long-forgotten bits of old electronic equipment (no doubt chipped free from the very ice floes that influenced Royksopp's intimate yet sparse soundscapes).
Torbjorn and Svein met at the age of 12, and began their musical career performing Kraftwerk covers for friends. Naming themselves Aedena Cycle, they started creating their own ambient sounds reflecting their love for King Crimson, Brian Eno and the Orb -- influences that would continue to show as their production capabilities matured. Briefly joining Those Norwegians, Torbjorn sharpened his house sensibilities, and then the two friends formed Royksopp, releasing "So Easy" and signed soon thereafter by Wall of Sound. Their debut album, Melody AM, was a slow-burner that generated huge word of mouth and massive sales until even your postman could be heard whistling "Poor Leno" and "Eple." The music was a curious combination of electronica, downtempo, folk and pop -- catchy melodies and fun, uplifting beats that were especially needed in the overly po-faced prog house days at the beginning of the millennium. Global tours followed, accompanied by a number of award-winning and highly creative videos. Remixing requests started to come in, and soon it was possible to detect a specific Royksopp sound: the warmth of a good melody combined with a sparse clinical and washy Arctic rhythmic backdrop. Clearly not wanting to be pigeonholed, their next release, 2005's The Understanding, had a different feel and employed new vocalists (even using their own on some tracks), but their love of prog rock, especially the Alan Parsons Project, could still be clearly detected on tracks like "Alpha Male."