Melody A.M. is the first release of the Norwegian duo, Röyksopp. It was released as a two disk CD set on October 15, 2002 by ASTRALWERKS. The first CD of the release is a set of original recordings - what you'd normally expect when you buy a CD. Then, to sweeten the deal, an extra CD of remixes and music videos is thrown in, the likes of which would be worth a purchase on their own. Since it hit the markets, Melody A.M. has received critical acclaim. You'd have to look long and hard to find a negative word to be said about this CD. Overall, the sound of Melody A.M. is very mellow, and has a distinct chill-out vibe to it, that makes it easy to listen to anytime, and can appeal to just about everyone.
So Easy (3:44)
This opening track really sets the mood of the CD, showing what the duo is capable of. It starts off kind of slow, adding in more parts as the song progresses. Amidst the electronic beats can be found a couple trumpet notes, and a sample from "Blue on Blue" by Gals and Pals. It's hard to listen to this song without tapping your foot to the beat. As the song reaches the three-minute mark, it starts to wind down, and the music is replaced with a phone conversation between what is assumedly the members of the group, discussing frequencies.
A near-seamless continuation of the first track, Eple is most definitely the most recognizable track by the group, and can be found on many chill-out compilation albums. Completely without vocals, a high-pitched synth beat takes center stage, that occasionally has a drowned-out, under water sound to it. A background heavy on the bass drum and hi-hat is present for the entire song. After a first listen through of the CD, this song will be one that sticks out for most everyone.
One of the only songs on the CD with spoken, non-sample words. After about a minute of a laid back, simple beat, female vocals that have been altered to sound as though they are from an old-timey movie a thrown into the mix. At times though, the lyrics are a little hard to understand because they are drowned out by the music. That matters very little though, as the song still maintains a very mellow, relaxing aura about it, even without discernable lyrics.
In Space (3:30)
Starting with very slow, methodical string-like sounds, In Space opens up into a surprisingly fast paced flurry of tinkling bells and keyboard beats. Once in full effect, the song doesn't seem to get much added to it, but seems more like a looped ordeal, not that that's a bad thing. A very relaxing song.
Poor Leno (3:57)
Gentle waves crashing against a beach shore usher in the soothing vocals of Erland Øye, a talented vocalist who collaborated with Röyksopp on this track. As the song picks up, sharper keyboard/synth beats are added to a steady hi-hat beat to complement the spoken portions of the track. Like previous tracks with lyrics though, the instrumental part of the song drowns out the lyrics, to some extent. However, this does not detract from the song, as the words are used more as an instrument, and didn't seem to be meant as the focus of the song.
A Higher Place (4:31)
One of the more intense songs (by comparison) on the CD, it features samples that bring to mind a space-like setting, small distorted vocal settings, and a couple augmented saxophone parts. This track is one of the more distinguishable as being heavy on the electronic parts, with few noticeable "natural" instrumental parts. Despite how that may sound, it is still a very appropriate chill-out song, just another "kind" of chill-out.
Röyksopp's Night Out (7:30)
Fast and active from the get-go, it is heavy on the looped segments, and twangy, synth beats. At times, a keyboard generated string and harp section can be heard that seem to mellow things out. About halfway through the song, it starts to slow down a little, and a couple short vocal samples and notes on a flute can be heard. Around the five minute mark, every part of the song gets muffled, as though heard through a closed door, eventually fading behind a short violin-esque solo, only to resurface again in full force. This is easily the most danceable track the CD has to offer.
Remind Me (3:39)
Another track with the entrancing voice of Erland Øye. In this song, however, it is different from the rest, as the vocals are actually the focus of the song, and can be clearly heard. This is a perfect combination of smooth electronic beats and soft, lulling lyrics. Simple keyboards and the standard hi-hat can be heard throughout, and provide a solid base to be worked off of. Personally, my favorite song that the CD has to offer.
She's So (5:23)
This is easily one of the most somber and natural tracks on the album. It opens with pulsing electronic chords supporting a solo saxophone playing a slow, jazzy tune. Then, about a minute into it, things start to speed up, and some percussion is added to give the song an extra kick. The sax is soon replaced by a high-pitched synth solo that sounds like it could be from a video game. The saxophone returns near the end of the song and belts out some Bebop-esque tunes, then slowly fades away to the muffled background music. A truly peaceful song.
40 Years Back\Come (4:45)
After about thirty seconds of silence, some simple synthesized wind instrument is played over a faint, ghostly whining sound that is periodically left as the only audible part of the song. After a progressive surge in the volume of the background music, it fades, and what seems to be a distinctly different half of the song begins to play. A new tune, played with nothing more than a quiet keyboard plays out the rest of the song, ending the CD in a most peaceful way, as if to say "Goodnight."
Remind Me (Someone Else's Mix) (3:36)
Much more upbeat than the version it is based upon, Someone Else's Mix manages to capture the vocals of the original and toss it in with a fast danceable beat.
Poor Leno (Röyksopp's Istanbul Forever Take) (5:35)
It starts out very fast, with a buzzer/siren sound, that slowly fades into a quick drum beat, mixed with what sounds like the clicking of keys on a computer keyboard. Lacking the words of the original, this version has a distinctly trancey feel to it, with a few places that the song dissipates, only to quickly pick up again, where it left off. It does make up for the lack of words, by including the original melody in an 80's-esque synth form. Overall, this is a very retro, energetic remix.
Remind Me (Ernest St. Laurent Moonfish Mix) (6:56)
Like most of the other remixes, this one removes a good deal of the lyrics, and replaces them with an instrumental rendition of them. This version stays pretty true to the original, in that most of the some melodies are present, and it can be easily recognized as having similarities. Every now and then though, a distorted, deep voice sample is included. I can personally picture this being included in a version of Dance Dance Revolution. Overall, a decent remix.
Poor Leno (Silcone Soul Hypno House Dub) (8:00)
Although technically a remix of Poor Leno, very little of the original can be heard throughout. There are times when the background bass part sounds like the vocals of the original, but if one didn't know any better, they might swear they were different songs. On top of that, this has an entirely different feel to it, and it is more like a stereotypical techno song, with repeating beats. It is, however, a more appropriate dance song than the original.
Poor Leno (Video)
Directory Sam Arthur used a combination of live action footage and cartoon animations to create what is possibly the most entertaining and critical video on the CD. It starts with a shot of a zoo, and some of the animals
held prisoner kept in the zoo. As focus passes from animal to animal, it becomes apparent that the movements of the animals are synchronized to a different repeating sound in the song. Finally, we are shown what can only be the pride and joy of this zoo, the rare and elusive "Leno," which seems to be a small boy dressed up in a brown bear suit. The rest of the video is spent showing how Leno was taken against his will from his mountainous home, to be paraded and displayed for the amusement of others. However, while this video does turn out to have a somewhat anti-zoo message, it is all kept pretty light hearted, with the inclusion of polar bears bobbing their heads to the beat of the song.
Remind Me (Video)
Picture a colored standard map of the world, divided into time zones. Then, a zoom in on an animated mini map of England, detailing the weather of the area. Further zoom ins show a small town, and a house, which turns out to be home to a young, cartoon woman, the lead character of the video. The rest of the video follows this nameless girl through her day, focusing on the different things that she does, deconstructing them, and looking at what made those things, or what will become of them. For example, at one point the woman flushes her toilet, the water in the bowl is followed down the drain, through the piping underground, to the water purification plant, out to a larger body of water, up into the air as it condenses, where it remains among clouds. Overall, this is a very creative and well done video, directed by Ludovic Houplan and Hervè de Crècy.
This video starts with a still picture of a snowy mountain range, and then zooms out to show that it is a view from inside a ski lodge. From there, the camera walks a long and twisted path, where still shot after still shot is seamlessly strung together through a combination of zoom ins and outs. For example, at one point, a shot of a plain looking living room zooms out to show that it is the view through a doorway from between two people in an aquatic center. Form there, the camera wanders a little, to show more of the still picture of people swimming in a pool, then meanders over to a window view on the far left of the picture, and zooms in to focus on it. A new sequence like this is started every ten seconds or so, making almost impossible to accurately keep track of everything that is shown. A truly excellent video. Directed by Mother London.
For the most part, this CD provides the perfect mix of electronic and "natural" sounds, and presents them in a way that can be enjoyed by everyone. It's about as techno as it comes, without being danceable (which is fine for me, as I lack the ability). All things considered, Melody A.M. easily makes my list of favorite CDs, and I couldn't give it any higher a recommendation.