The pair Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge both grew up in Tromsø and met through a mutual friend when they were in their early teens. Their shared love of electronic music led them to begin began recording in the early ’90s. Local-made-good Geir Jenssen (aka Biosphere) provided tutelage, and during this time, Berge and Brundtland formed the group Aedena Cycle with two other musicians. The band’s 1994 EP Traveler’s Dreams appeared on the R&S sublabel Apollo, and Jenssen almost convinced them to sign a full deal with the label. However, Aedena Cycle disbanded, and after a few years apart, Brundtland and Berge met up again in Bergen and formed Röyksopp in 1998. Following a pair of singles for the local label Tellé (1999’s “So Easy” and 2001’s “Eple”), the group signed to Wall of Sound. The British big beat label reissued “Eple,” which along with another track, “Poor Leno,” earned slots on over a dozen chillout compilations that year and the next.
Appearing in September 2001, Röyksopp’s debut album, Melody A.M., expanded on their smooth mix of trip-hop, disco, and electronic pop and featured vocal cameos by Erlend Øye and Bel Canto’s Anneli Drecker. The record was a huge success in Norway, where it topped the albums chart, was certified platinum, won a Spellemannprisen for Best Electronic Album, and was eventually named the best Norwegian album of the 2000s by the country’s largest newspaper. Melody A.M. was also an international hit: it went platinum in the Netherlands and the U.K., where it spawned several Top 40 hits. In the U.S., it reached number 18 on the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart, and the single “Remind Me” was used in a popular Geico car insurance commercial. In 2002, the video for “Remind Me” won a Spellemannprisen as well as an MTV Europe Music Award, and Röyksopp were nominated for a Brit Award for Best International Group the following year.
Berge and Brundtland spent the next few years performing live and remixing artists including Beck and Annie. They returned with July 2005’s The Understanding, which featured more traditionally structured songs than their earlier work, as well as vocals by Chelonis R. Jones, Kate Havnevik, and the Knife’s Karin Dreijer. Dreijer appeared on the single “What Else Is There,” a Top Five hit in Norway and a Top 40 hit in the U.K. The Understanding expanded on Melody A.M.’s success, once again topping the chart in Norway and debuting at number 13 in the U.K., where it was certified gold. In the States, the set reached number two on Billboard’s Top Electronic albums chart. Röyksopp capped off this success by winning a Spellemannprisen for Best Pop Group. The live EP Röyksopp’s Night Out – which featured a cover of Queens of the Stone Age’s “Go with the Flow” – appeared a year later, and in 2007, the duo released their volume of the Back to Mine series. In addition, Berge was a board member for the Grieg year, a celebration of composer Edvard Grieg on the centennial of his death. In 2008, Röyksopp commemorated their own tenth anniversary by releasing the song “Happy Birthday” on their website.
Starting in 2009, the duo embarked on an ambitious dual album project. First up was March’s Junior, an upbeat set that reunited them with Dreijer and Drecker and also counted Robyn and Lykke Li among its guest vocalists. Balancing the approaches of Röyksopp’s two previous albums, Junior became their third consecutive number one album in Norway, reached number 21 in the U.K., and became the pair’s first album to enter the Billboard 200 Albums chart in the U.S. (it also appeared on the Top Electronic Albums and Top Heatseekers charts). Additionally, the Jean Elan remix of the Robyn-featuring single “The Girl and the Robot” was nominated for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical at the 52nd Grammy Awards. Junior was followed, appropriately, by September 2010’s Senior, a relatively sedate album of instrumentals. It became Röyksopp’s fourth consecutive number one album in their homeland, reached number 33 on the U.K. charts, and peaked at 18 on the Top Dance/Electronic Albums chart in the U.S. Six of the record’s songs appeared in the short film Röyksopp’s Adventures in Barbieland.
In June 2013, Brundtland and Berge resurfaced with their volume of LateNightTales, which featured a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Ice Machine” with Susanne Sundfør on vocals. That December, they reunited with Sundfør on “Running to the Sea,” a single that included the B-side “Something in My Heart,” a collaboration with the Irrepressibles’ Jamie McDermott. The following May, they teamed up with Robyn on the Do It Again EP to promote their joint tour. That November, Röyksopp released what was billed as their final album. Setting a fittingly dark yet energetic mood, The Inevitable End included more collaborations with Sundfør, McDermott, and Robyn. Their first and only full-length to reach number two in Norway, the album peaked at 38 in the U.K. and reached 103 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart in the U.S., their highest position on that chart.
Though Röyksopp were seemingly finished with albums in the traditional sense, they continued to work on varied projects. These included the music for Kafta feat. Röyksopp, a 2015 comedic theatrical production based on the work of Franz Kafka, and a series of jingles for the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK’s TV news division. In 2016, Röyksopp contributed to the Star Wars Headspace compilation with the track “Bounty Hunters” and also issued another Sundfør collaboration, “Never Ever.” Three years later, Röyksopp kicked off their Lost Tapes series, releasing rarities and previously unreleased tracks from the vault each month of the year. In addition to the first offering, “Rising Urge,” they unveiled another Sundfør track, “In the End,” which also featured Man Without Country. Also in 2019, the duo collaborated with Lars Vaular on the single “To minutter.” The Lost Tapes series continued until January 2021; that September, they issued Lost Tapes, a physical release of the first ten tracks in the series.
In January 2022, Röyksopp issued a pair of instrumental singles: the drifting and melancholy “(Nothing But) Ashes…” and a warm, bubbling piece entitled “The Ladder.” Both in tone and concept, the songs introduce an expansive new project, Profound Mysteries. Released in April of that year, the first volume of Profound Mysteries comprised a full-length album with guest appearances from Alison Goldfrapp and Beki Mari as well as an accompanying short film and music visualizer. The wealth of new material continued in August of that year with Profound Mysteries II, another guest-heavy collection featuring collaborations with Astrid S, Karen Harding, Jamie Irrepressible, and longtime foil Susanne Sundfør.
And today it’s time to end the album series with Profound Mysteries III.