I’m generally not a huge fan of live albums – why bother, when studio albums deliver the meat and potatoes minus the screaming? – but every once in a while I’m either enthusiastic or curious enough about a specific act to go ahead and check out a concert recording. I was a little bit skeptical going into Royksopp’s Night Out, simply because Royksopp relies so heavily on technology, sampling and other studio techniques to create their sound – could they deliver the goods without that at their disposal?
The answer turns out to be a resounding yes. Things are energized considerably by getting a touring group together to bring the previously sampled drums, guitars and other instruments to life. There’s still plenty of technology on display, but in some cases the live performance actually obscures things less than the studio recordings: “What More Is There?”, to name just one example, finally reveals its somewhat bizarre lyrics clearly. (The flipside of that is that it seems like only half of the lyrics of “Sparks”, the lovely torchy number from Royksopp’s first album, are ever sung on stage.)
With its short running time, Royksopp’s Night Out hangs somewhere in the balance between EP and full album, and yet depending on where you look, it commands a full album price tag; that probably makes this collection something for the diehards only. But even if you think you’ve heard Royksopp before, this intriguing live recording reveals new layers and new energy by getting everyone out of the studio – in short, it’s exactly what a concert recording should be.