A few years ago, I visited Tromso, the home of Royksopp duo Svein Berge and Torbjorn Brundtland. In contrast to the beauty of Norway’s fjordland with its lush green landscapes, and glassy waters, Tromso is a stark, somewhat bleak place, located 300km into the Arctic Circle. Due to its location, Tromso experiences periods in winter without any sun, and, although I realise it’s just the romantic in me talking, it’s easy to imagine Svein and Torbjorn holed up during these gloomy months recording this album, only venturing out for a round of £10 pints or a plate of fermented trout. The music on Senior is dark, moody, and a radical departure from the dancy, guest-vocal-strewn Junior (2009). A great deal of the tracks are filled with ambient sounds, with nothing leaping from the speakers to demand the attention. Despite this, and unlike many other albums in this genre, Senior is never dull, even when there is nothing but background discordance and a few synth blips and blobs on offer. When the pace (and volume) goes up a notch, like on track The Fear, the transition seems natural and well-considered. The whole album sits together very cohesively as a complete piece of work, and is best listened to as a whole from beginning to end (although the last five minutes of A Long, Long Way could easily be avoided).
Senior may not be the most exciting album ever made, but as musical experiences go, this one is very satisfying.