Article about Paul’s new Brooklyn studio

Paul in front of the modular synth system in his new studio earlier this year, before the studio had been completed (Picture from Dagbladet)

Paul in front of the modular synth system in his new studio earlier this year, before everything had been completed.
(Picture from Dagbladet)

Sonicscoop.com has posted an article about Paul’s new home studio in Brooklyn, which has been designed and built by Jim Keller of Sondhus.

“I wanted to build a place that actually sounded accurate. That was the big dream. And to be able to crank it up and for things to have some life”, Paul says.

Back in 2012, Sonicscoop.com had a previous article about Paul’s old home studio in SoHo, which was full of instruments and equipment that he had collected over the years. Since then, he has scaled down his collection significantly.

“It was important for me to simplify with this place, and it was very important to me to have walking space. I just wanted to get rid of everything just so I could think straight. Of course I do sometimes regret selling some of those old beautiful vintage synths because I know I’ll never find them again.

But when you write songs, you can can lure yourself into the thought that ‘If I just get this, I’ll write these great songs.’ That old ploy. It worked on my wife, and I think I was able to trick myself for a while too”, he laughs.

Read the whole article at Sonicscoop.com.

‘Cast In Steel’ album cover

Platekompaniet has now posted the album cover of Cast In Steel. The cover photo was taken in Rio de Janeiro in December 2014 by Just Loomis.

Cover photo by Just Loomis

Cover photo by Just Loomis

“Under The Makeup” premieres on radio

Single cover

Single cover

The new a-ha single “Under The Makeup” has now premiered on Norwegian radio a few days early, after the song leaked online on Monday night.

The song features a big, orchestral arrangement, which Lars Horntveth comments on in a video posted by a-ha.com on YouTube: “We tried to do kind of like a big James Bond-ish arrangement on it. It was also inspired by a Bjørk song which is called “Play Dead” from her ‘Debut’ album. It sounds really big and almost like a “wall of sound” [production]”.

“Under The Makeup” has so far been getting mixed receptions from both fans and critics. As one fan put it on the West Of The Moon Forum: “Interestingly it seems to be satisfying neither the guitar rock brigade nor the synth brigade! It’s all about the strings, bass and orchestration. Could be promising however for the live set.”

VG‘s reviewer Stein Østbø gives the song 4/6 and calls it “Dripping with melancholy, majestic and sincere. And impossible to dislike.” But he feels the arrangement is overdone: “This song doesn’t need strings to underscore the drama of the lyrics and melody, this song needs a more sparse arrangement around Morten Harket’s voice.”

The song also gets 4/6 from Dagbladet: “The lyrics could easily be interpreted as confronting the ambivalence that the band has had to struggle with over the years. It’s about breaking up and reuniting. (…) Thanks to Harket’s trademark vocals and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy’s very distinct melodic signature, it’s hard for a-ha to do much wrong as long as they stick to their basic ingredients. But naturally that also makes them slightly predictable.”

Aftenposten‘s reviewer gives the song 5/6. “Whereas the previous album was leaning towards the modern pop of bands like Coldplay and The Killers, there’s something more genuine about the new single. (…) A bit pompous, but it sounds great, and it doesn’t take many listens before you’re singing along to the chorus.”

Adresseavisen also has a positive 5/6 review: “The song sticks in your head right at the first line and melody change, it only takes eight seconds to realize that this is a really good choice as a single.”

Dagsavisen however isn’t too impressed with the new single, giving it 3/6: “One could always hope, but “Under The Makeup” doesn’t exactly raise expectations ahead of the album Cast In Steel, and a-ha is now more reminiscent of a vanity project than a band with good ideas.”

Magne creates large sculpture park

Magne at Tommerup Ceramic Workshop, hammering letters into one of the massive jars (Picture from Aftenposten)

Magne at Tommerup Ceramic Workshop, hammering letters into one of his massive jars
(Picture from Aftenposten.no)

Aftenposten’s weekend magazine A-magasinet has a 15-page article about Magne’s most ambitious art project to date; he is in the midst of creating the largest ceramic sculpture park in Scandinavia. A-magasinet has followed Magne’s process of making the sculptures, which is being done at Tommerup Ceramic Workshop in Denmark.

Magne has also made the magazine cover, out of clay. A video clip of him working on the cover can be seen here. Another video featuring Magne’s art has been posted here. And a full English translation of the article is available at Aftenposten.no.

The park is another commission by Kjell Inge Røkke’s company Aker, for which Magne has previously done a number of projects, including decorating the enormous sail of Røkke’s yacht Aglaia and a unique steel sculpture to be placed outside Røkke’s cabin.

The sculpture park will be situated outside the new Aker headquarters at Fornebu near Oslo and has been given the name Imprints. It will be comprised of 40 ceramic elements, including the two largest jars in the world (6 meters tall), nine columns (2 – 4 meters tall) and a 12 meter long ceramic relief.

“This is the single most comprehensive commission in my artistic career. That is why this new park is extremely important to me as a visual artist. I was never in doubt whether I should accept the challenge”, Magne says.

“The park will be marked by things I wrote through the years, texts with a lyrical element. Some of them come from songs I wrote, but most is free standing English poetry. I have something like 5000 – 6000 unpublished poems. They have been stowed away, awaiting some project.”

Many of the poems will eventually end up in a book in connection with the park, to be published later.

In addition to working on the sculpture park, Magne will hold a summer exhibition in Sandefjord from 28 June to 16 August. Sometime in the fall he’ll be exhibiting in Washington, and in December he’ll take part in a group exhibition in Rio.

“I know where I shall be every single day until June 2016, but I never get tired from working hard. What tires me, is the waste of time and people who get obsessed with details”, he says.

The first section of the Imprints park is set to open in August 2015, while the whole park won’t be completed until next summer.

Wennerberg, Ljunggren and Ormestad join a-ha on Cast In Steel tour

Wennerberg and Ljunggren toured with a-ha in 2009 and 2010

Wennerberg and Ljunggren played around 100 concerts with a-ha in 2009 and 2010

Drummer Karl Oluf Wennerberg and keyboardist Erik Ljunggren will once again join a-ha on tour in 2015/16, together with new touring bassist Even Ormestad. This was confirmed in an interview with Ormestad in the newspaper Tønsbergs Blad this week.

Wennerberg, Ljunggren and Ormestad are currently in the process of rehearsing between 20 and 25 a-ha songs, in preparation for the upcoming Cast In Steel concerts in South America.

“This is a comeback we’re talking about here, so our job is to make sure that it will sound fresh. We have to play a-ha’s music in our own way, while also trying to make it sound as ‘a-ha’ as possible”, Ormestad tells the newspaper.

Touring with a-ha is a childhood dream coming true, the bassist says.

“I’ve been standing in front of the mirror and playing bass to a-ha songs since before I was a teenager, so I should be well-prepared”, the 36-year-old bassist says with a laugh.

New a-ha single: “Under The Makeup”

The first single off a-ha’s upcoming album Cast In Steel is called “Under The Makeup” and will premiere on 3 July, a-ha.com announced today.

The song, which was completed last week, has been written by Paul, and produced by Paul and Erik Ljunggren. Mixing by Cenzo Townsend and string arrangements by Lars Horntveth.

Norway’s largest radio station NRK P1 has already announced it will add “Under The Makeup” to its high-rotation A-list, starting in week 29.

Links:
Official announcement on Facebook
VG article: Den nye a-ha-singelen er klar

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