Royksopp, RüFüS @ Enmore Theatre, Sydney (27/1/12)
Royksopp’s have been around since 1998, albeit without enjoying the same critical and commercial status as comparative acts like, say, Air. The fact they have achieved such longevity is testament if not quite to the quality of their music, to their commitment to their sound, their fans and each other. This debut Australian excursion finds them in fine fettle, assuming the role of the crusading grandads of mellow dance music. And given they don’t have a current album to promote as they visit these shores for Big Day Out and sideshows, there is opportunity for the floppy-haired pair to perhaps explore the lesser-exposed crannies of their back catalogue.
Sydney trio RüFüS have certainly been weaned well on the likes of Royksopp and their Scandinavian ilk. Providing appropriate, if not particularly overwhelming, support tonight they present themselves as a slightly darker version of the headliners. Their sound is generally uninvasive, invoking skies and vistas and other woozy natural imagery that the Norwegians like to point to so much in interviews. RüFüS differ from Royksopp in that they sing themselves; the vocals of Tyrone Lindqvist bringing an impressively foreboding to their melodic synth-driven mix that hints vaguely at The XX or perhaps a much, much more interesting White Lies. Both dance-happy and often quite profound, they did a fine job.
Royksopp emerged in a blaze of masks, costumes, cloaks and theatrics that would only increase in elaborateness as the night went on. Flanked by a masked bassist and a masked guitarist, the two of them began with two of their most famous blockbusters: Eple and Happy Up Here before launching into a cacophonous blaze of heavy electro/techno – a medley with its highpoint naturally being The Girl and the Robot from Junior. Indeed, it is that album, rather than 2010’s more somnolent Senior that is in vogue tonight for the twosome, with some new material (the intriguing Shores of Easy being one) hinting at what may happen next for them.
The emphasis of the evening was clearly very clubby, which while ensuring a stunning night for those who came prepared to lose themselves in synth-based noise, belies the fact that Royksopp actually have plenty worth carefully listening to when you delve beneath the devastating volume (in the encore, for example, it often felt like the walls would cave in). They did bring it down with some more melodic and accessible instruments at perhaps two points during the show, but a fuller impression of them – and perhaps a more diverse concert – would have ensued had they allowed more expression to the hazy, orchestral and harmonious side of their personality.
But it’s very hard to deny Royskopp. They have arrived at a style of live show that is immediate, mostly engrossing and certainly a spectacle. Both band members plough through each of these demanding tracks – which in their noise and beats eventually all blend into one static, shuddering noise – with supreme energy and good humour. There are many more imaginative acts in the world of electronica these day, but as far as fun goes, Svein Berge and Torbjí¸rn Brundtland deliver comprehensively indeed.