Royksopp - Senior Living

Lorcan O'Brien 01/12/2010

Rating: 4/5

Senior Living is the cinematic short film that accompanies Royksopp's fourth album Senior. It is a step into the unknown. Ambient chillout meets profound freakout and we love it.

Directors Noel Paul and Stefan Moore portray a fascinating beauty in destruction and dilapidation. Director of Photography, Michael Ragen seems to capture a thought provoking tenderness in the harsh landscape.
The Norwegian duo recorded last year's album Junior at the same time as their current offering. Senior is the more intelligent, pensive older brother. Pre-release, Berge and Brundtland described this album as “The introvert and darker sibling, who lives in the attic” and they certainly weren't lying.

The video is set in a contemporary dystopia, complete with ominous derelict buildings and desolate streets. But even with all dereliction and desolation aside this is still an incredibly visually interesting film in its own right. They decided to set it in Detroit because “it exists as a contemporary dystopia." The location produces some striking images; Orwell would be proud. The city is like a half painted canvas waiting to be completed by the stunning cinematography of Ragen.
Royksopp use a concoction of retro, analogue synths and samplers, but don't get them wrong, this is far from “808 boom make you put your hands up” and it certainly isn't Hot Chip. Sculpting a dreamy, introspective atmosphere, they create surprisingly abrasive undertones with unusual chromatic harmonies. Fusing trip-hop and electronica, drawing on artists of a similar calibre like Aphex Twin and Noisia.
Three clichéd American High School girls act as the film's enigmatic protagonists. It was a brave choice to pick these characters, but the way they are portrayed allows for a fascinating contrast between privilege and suffering, first world and reality or even East and West.

What is most refreshing about this is that there is far more substance to the entire production that you would expect, even from Royksopp. The trippy, lucid dream-world that they have created is full of attention-grabbing juxtapositions and metaphors for hope, mortality and fate. A lamb's head lies severed and skinned on the floor. A white wolf licks a human skull. A badly scarred, naked child stares vacantly at the camera. Heavy stuff!

Of course the soundtrack is what really sets the scene. It sounds like Aphex Twin's Richard James Tantrically screwing Christian Fennesz on a bed of fragile, atmospheric melody in a room saturated with vintage, melancholic, valve amplified warmth… and in no way does that feel wrong.
Royksopp have stepped away from pop. “Brimful with dark secrets and distorted memories” we are offered a delicate yet unforgiving journey into the joys and sorrows of their heads and of our own.