Archive for 2017

Surprise a-ha performance in London

Morten and Paul on stage in London, 17 September

a-ha did a surprise live performance at the Tobacco Dock in London last night, to entertain guests at an Emporio Armani afterparty as part of London Fashion Week. But not unplugged this time.

Backed by Karl Oluf, Even and Erik, they played “The Sun Always Shines On TV” and “Take On Me”. Possibly more, but only video clips of those two songs have appeared online so far.

Update: According to an article on wwd.com, a-ha did a four-song set, including “Crying in the Rain”. Also performing at the party was Ellie Goulding.

Several video clips of a-ha’s performance have been posted on Instagram:

The Sun Always Shines On TV: Clip 1

Take On Me: Clip 1   Clip 2   Clip 3   Clip 4   Clip 5

Some pictures of a-ha with Giorgio Armani and Morten on stage have been posted by Emporio Armani on Facebook.

Pre-order ‘MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice’

Limited Edition Fanbox with 2CD, Blu-ray, DVD, hardcover book, poster, wristband, badge, button

The new a-ha live album/concert film MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice will apparently be released in eight different versions on October 6th, and can now be pre-ordered from various online stores.

Thankfully, all the 21 tracks performed at the Giske concerts in June will be included in all versions (except the 1CD Acoustic Hits edition). This is the first time an entire a-ha concert is released without songs missing. But if you want to buy the 3LP vinyl version, be aware that 11 of the 21 tracks have been edited for time.

Blu-ray and DVD bonus features are called “Friendship”, “Songs” and “Project”.

The version that many fans will be interested in getting is the Limited Edition Fanbox, which not only includes the 2CD, Blu-ray and DVD, but also a hardcover book about the recording process, a poster, wristband, badge and button. Currently only available from Germany, but at a good price. The book seems to be in English, based on the fanbox image on Amazon. Update: the book is confirmed by a-ha.com on Twitter to be in English.

Note: When ordering from amazon.de – if you don’t understand German, you can change the language to English at the bottom of the page.

Here are pre-order links through Amazon Germany and Amazon UK:

Limited Edition Fanbox: amazon.de

Blu-ray: amazon.de   amazon.co.uk

DVD: amazon.de   amazon.co.uk

2CD: amazon.de   amazon.co.uk

2CD+Blu-ray: amazon.de   amazon.co.uk

2CD+DVD: amazon.de

3LP vinyl: amazon.de

1CD (Acoustic Hits): amazon.co.uk

Press conference in Berlin

a-ha interviewed by NRK after the press conference in Berlin, 12 September

a-ha presented their new live release MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice at a press conference at the Nordic Embassies in Berlin on Tuesday, September 12th. A video of the whole event, hosted by Norwegian musician and author Jo Nesbø, is available on a-ha.com’s Facebook page.

After the press conference, the band did a number of interviews with German and Norwegian media, including TV2 and NRK. Another video report appeared on ARD’s Brisant.

On Wednesday, September 13th, a-ha did further promotion in Berlin. Twelve pictures from a DPA photocall can be seen at belgaimage.be.

The first single from MTV Unplugged – Summer Solstice is called “This is Our Home” and is now available on for purchase/streaming. Watch the video on YouTube.

‘Tårer fra en stein’ book pre-order

The front cover features a previously unseen photo from the early 80s, taken by Viggo Bondi

Ørjan Nilsson’s upcoming book about Paul’s life and career, Tårer fra en stein, will be published in Norway on 6 October and can now be pre-ordered from bidra.no (signed by the author).

The 302-page book (written in Norwegian) is based on extensive interview sessions with Paul over the last two years, where he has opened up more than ever before. The book goes into great detail about every aspect of his songwriting and musicianship, making it the definitive account on Paul’s creative output over the years.

Nilsson has also interviewed a number of Paul’s family members, friends and colleagues, including his wife Lauren, his parents Olav and Gerd, his sister Tonje, Alan Tarney, Viggo Bondi and Hågen Rørmark.

The book also features a number of previously unseen photos from the early days and lyric sketches from Paul’s personal notebooks.

In connection with the book release, a ltd. ed. 7″ vinyl featuring cover versions of “Whalebone” by the author’s own band Willow and “Manhattan Skyline” by Kings of Convenience will be included for those who pre-order through bidra.no.

On 6 October there will be a book launch at Tronsmo book store in Oslo, where Ørjan Nilsson will talk about Tårer fra en stein with music journalist Audun Vinger.

Tårer fra en stein can also be pre-ordered from haugenbok.no, tanum.no, platekompaniet.no or bigdipper.no.

The Voice: Team Morten is now complete

Martin, Morten and Lene on Senkveld, 8 September

The blind audition episodes of The Voice concluded this week, and now all four mentors have complete teams. Martin, Lene and Yosef bent the rules a little bit and ended up with 13 talents on their teams, while Morten has 12 talents on his.

Here is Team Morten, with YouTube-links to their performances:

1. Ingeborg Walther (17 years old)
2. Elias Grimstad Salbu (18)
3. Maria Celin Strisland (19)
4. Lena Haarberg (25)
5. Egil Sverre Langnes (20)
6. Jorunn Undheim (29)
7. Dina Sæle Ek (32)
8. Ninja Krystad (31)
9. Jeremaya John (32)
10. Anna Jæger (23)
11. Knut Kippersund Nesdal (26)
12. Sebastian James Hekneby (27)

All the 67 blind auditions can be seen in this YouTube playlist by TV2.

One special moment occured in the episode this Friday, when Morten’s niece Ragnhild Harket was one of the contestants. Morten had no idea she would be there, but he didn’t press the button as he instantly recognized her voice and felt it wouldn’t be appropriate. But both Yosef and Lene pressed their buttons, and Ragnhild ended up on Yosef’s team.

To promote The Voice, Morten appeared together with the other mentors at a TV2 press launch in Oslo on 22 August. “Norway is brimming with talent, and I feel I have something to contribute”, he told VG.

He was also a guest on TV2’s talkshow Senkveld this Friday, 8 September, together with Martin and Lene. The full episode is available for TV2 Sumo subscribers. But there is also a short bonus clip from the interview on Senkveld’s Facebook page.

The Voice continues this coming Wednesday and Friday with the first battle rounds.

a-ha to present ‘Summer Solstice’ in Berlin

a-ha at the Cast in Steel press launch in Berlin, 2015

a-ha will present their new MTV Unplugged live album and concert film Summer Solstice at the Nordic Embassies in Berlin on Tuesday, September 12th [date corrected] according to Berliner Morgenpost.

The press launch will include an interview with the band members, moderated by the Norwegian musician and author Jo Nesbø.

a-ha have previously used the Nordic Embassies in Berlin to launch three albums; Lifelines in 2002, Foot of the Mountain in 2009 and Cast in Steel in 2015.

It’s safe to assume the band will do lots of other promotion as well, while in Germany.

Still no confirmed tracklist for the Summer Solstice album/video coming on October 6th, but four different formats are up for pre-order on CDON.eu; Blu-ray // Deluxe 2CD+Blu-ray // Deluxe 2CD+DVD // Triple vinyl.

Trondheim concert announced for 2018

a-ha at Lerkendal Stadium in Trondheim, 2010
(Picture by Jakob)

A fourth Norwegian outdoor concert has been announced for next year’s a-ha world tour, following dates in Kongsberg, Ålesund and Bodø:

15 August 2018: Sverresborg Museum, Trondheim, Norway

The Sverresborg Museum is one of Norway’s largest open air museums, and has a capacity of 10,000 people for concert events.

“We are really looking forward to returning to Trondheim. It’s been way too long, and Sverresborg is a fantastic concert venue”, the band said in a statement.

This will be the seventh concert a-ha have played in Trondheim. Their last concert in the city was held at Lerkendal Stadium during the Farewell Tour in 2010.

There will be a ticket presale this Thursday, 31 August (10:00 am), for followers of Trondheim Concerts on Facebook. The general sale starts on Friday, 1 September (09:00 am) through Ticketmaster.

According to press articles in connection with the Trondheim announcement, the 2018 tour has now been extended to 60 concerts in total. a-ha manager Harald Wiik has previously said the tour will begin in the UK in June, followed by concerts through Europe, USA and South America.

Adressa.no: Nå kommer A-ha tilbake til byen
NRK.no: Nytt storband kommer til Sverresborg i 2018

‘The Voice’ premieres on TV2

Morten in the first episode of The Voice

The fourth season of The Voice premiered on TV2 in Norway last night, with Morten as one of the four mentors.

Back in 2012, Magne and his fellow mentors performed Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” at the beginning of the first episode, but this year there was no performance by the mentors. Instead, the show went straight to the first blind audition.

Six talents performed tonight, and Morten pressed the red button on five of them. In the end, Martin ended up with two talents for his team, while Morten, Lene and Yosef got one each. 17-year-old Ingeborg is the first talent on Team Morten.

The full episode is only available for TV2 Sumo subscribers, but TV2 has also posted video clips of all the performances on YouTube:
Andrea   Isabelle   Olaves   Phillip   Alexandra   Ingeborg

Keep an eye on TV2’s YouTube channel and The Voice‘s Facebook page for more video clips in the coming days.

The Voice continues with new episodes each night this week until Friday. Starting next week, there will be new episodes only on Wednesday and Friday.

MTV Unplugged: Album cover and title

Summer Solstice album cover

The official site has now revealed the cover art of a-ha’s MTV Unplugged album and its title; Summer Solstice.

The album, which features cover photos by Just Loomis and artwork by Matthias Bäuerle, will be released on 6 October.

On that same day, MTV Germany will air the Summer Solstice concert on TV – but only a shortened 50-minute version.

No tracklist has been posted yet, but the regular album will probably only include a selection of the 21 songs performed at Giske.

Whether there will also be a 2CD-version with all the songs is unknown. But hopefully the Blu-ray/DVD will include the whole concert.

a-ha to perform in Ålesund and Bodø next year

Two new festival dates on a-ha’s 2018 summer tour have now been announced, adding to the already known date at Kongsberg Jazzfestival on 6 July:

17 August 2018: Jugendfest, Ålesund, Norway
18 August 2018: Parkenfestivalen, Bodø, Norway

Jugendfest is held at Color Line Stadium, the same football stadium where a-ha played in August 2006, as part of the Analogue tour. Parkenfestivalen is held at the Rensås park, and this will be a-ha’s first ever concert in Bodø (Morten and Paul have both done solo concerts in Bodø).

Tickets for Jugendfest go on sale on Friday, 25 August at tikkio.com, while tickets for Parkenfestivalen won’t be available until 1 November.

Press articles:
A-ha bekreftet til Jugend 2018
Nå kommer tidenes norske band til Parken

New Savoy reissues: solid remastering, but shorter than the original albums

Mountains of Time inner cover with new liner notes by Kieron Tyler, record sleeve with lyrics, and CD.

The new and remastered version of Savoy’s Mountains of Time (1999) was released by Apollon Records last month, and those who pre-ordered the vinyl and CD versions from the Savoy Bandcamp page are finally starting to receive their items.

I have only had a chance to listen to the new CD version so far, but from the first moments of the opening track “Man in the Park”, the increased clarity and detail resulting from Joe Lambert’s new remastering work is striking. There’s an added punch to the drums and the layered guitars sound razor sharp. To my ears, it sounds really good throughout the album.

But those familiar with the original album will also notice that many of the songs are noticeably shorter on this reissue. That was also the case with the Lackluster Me reissue last year, which was 2 minutes 13 seconds shorter than the original 1997 release – but it’s even more obvious on Mountains of Time, which has been shortened by 3 minutes 12 seconds in total, compared to the 1999 release.

While most of the edited songs simply fade out earlier, some of them, like “Any Other Way” and “Grind You Down” have parts missing in the middle of the songs.

According to Apollon Records, editing some of the songs for the new vinyl editions is Paul’s own choice, as it was necessary in order to fit the albums on one vinyl record in best possible sound quality. The original albums were never recorded with the vinyl format in mind.

But that’s not really the issue; regardless of the need to shorten the albums for vinyl, the original full-length versions could easily have been used on the new CDs and digital versions. That has not been done. Additionally, Apollon Records has also chosen not to mention the new song edits anywhere.

They are still fantastic albums, in beautifully presented gatefold covers with new and informative liner notes. But it’s confusing when certain parts of the songs you’re so used to hearing suddenly are missing.

According to some fans, there is also an error on the actual Mountains of Time vinyl record, in the form of a “clicking” noise at the end of some songs that sounds like someone changing tracks. This is not present on the CD version.

For more detailed info about which songs have been edited, check out these comparisons between the original CDs and the reissue CDs:
Lackluster Me (1997 vs 2016)
Mountains of Time (1999 vs 2017)

‘The Voice’ to premiere on 21 August

The mentors: Yosef Wolde-Mariam, Lene Marlin, Morten Harket and Martin Danielle

The fourth season of the Norwegian version of The Voice, with Morten as one of the mentors, is now set to premiere on TV2 on 21 August.

During the first week, there will be a new episode every night, Monday through Friday, at 20:00.

There will also be a marathon-repeat of the first five episodes on Saturday 26 August, from 13:00 to 18:30.

A trailer for the show can be viewed at TV2.no.

New a-ha world tour in 2018

Photo by Just Loomis

According to a-ha manager Harald Wiik, the band will be embarking on a new world tour in June 2018 – and this time fully electric. There will be 30-40 concerts in total.

“We’ll start in England in June and continue through Europe, before going to the USA and South America”, he tells VG today.

This may perhaps indicate plans to release a new studio album sometime in the spring/early summer next year?

The first date to be announced is Kongsberg Jazz Festival in Norway on 6 July next year, where a-ha will headline. The concert will be held at Kirketorget (Church Square), with a capacity of 12,000 people.

“Kongsberg will be fun because that’s where Morten is from. It’s also a very cool festival. They’ve kept it going for a long time and created something very special”.

Morten actually attended the Kongsberg Jazz Festival on Wednesday this week, to check out the area and hear current a-ha backing band member Morten Qvenild perform his commissioned piece “Area 51”. The local newspaper Laagendalsposten has posted a picture of him here.

Tickets for the Kongsberg concert go on sale tomorrow through Ticketmaster.

There will probably be two additional concerts in Norway as well, but Kongsberg will be the only one in the eastern part of the country.

“Laundromat” single release

Single cover

In the midst of everything going on with a-ha at Giske recently, Drabant Music released “Laundromat” as the fourth single off Waaktaar & Zoe’s World of Trouble album on 16 June. Available on iTunes, Spotify etc.

“Laundromat easily stands out as the best track on the album”, Norwegian music site Gaffa said in its review of World of Trouble earlier this year. “It is cheeky and sexy, and takes unexpected turns in its buildup.”

As with the previous three singles, “Laundromat” is also accompanied by a music video, which was released on 20 June and directed by Jason Brandenberg and Lauren Savoy.

This is the first video Lauren has done for the Waaktaar & Zoe project, while Jason Brandenberg also directed the video for “Tearful Girl”.

Drabant Music press release

MTV Unplugged – second night

According to fans who attended the second MTV Unplugged concert at Giske on Friday, it was even better and more relaxed than the first night. It was also longer; around 2,5 hours in total. This was partly because they played several songs multiple times. “Hunting High and Low” was played three times, while “The Living Daylights” and “Take On Me” were played twice.

Ingrid Helene Håvik was the only special guest on Friday, joining a-ha on “The Sun Always Shines on TV”. Lissie and Ian McCulloch both had other commitments, but a-ha still played “The Killing Moon” without McCulloch. Alison Moyet also did not appear on stage, as she had already recorded her duet with the band earlier in the day – a version of “Summer Moved On”.

Apparently some of the video screens behind the band malfunctioned on Friday night, but hopefully this will be possible to fix in the editing process, when footage from both nights (plus Alison’s Moyet performance) will be combined into the final version for MTV broadcast and Blu-ray/DVD.

On Saturday a-ha were back at Giske to do a photo shoot for the album cover with Just Loomis, who has been documenting the MTV Unplugged recording. Norwegian director Thomas Robsahm and his crew have also been at Giske, shooting material for the upcoming documentary film about a-ha, which is expected to premiere in 2019.

Video: a-ha walking on stage second night     Alison Moyet and a-ha
A shot from the editing room     a-ha and Lars Horntveth
Ian McCulloch at Giske     Morten and the catering team
a-ha.com: Day 1     a-ha.com: Day 2     Bypatrioten: En a-ha opplevelse

Interview with a-ha at Giske

a-ha on stage at Giske this week.
Picture by Monica Strømdahl for Aftenposten.

Aftenposten has published a big article (subscribers only) about the MTV Unplugged concerts at Giske. Here’s a small summary.

The main focus of the story is how good this process has been for the band, and how they decided to stick together against a “common enemy” – producer Lars Horntveth.

“We have ended up joining forces in a weird way, in a battle against our “common enemy” Lars. Suddenly we’re a band again, suddenly we understand why we’re together, and we’re in agreement like never before. We’re usually always in disagreement, and that’s kinda how it’s supposed to be, but not this time. It’s almost touching”, Morten tells Aftenposten.

“Working with the three of them has been enjoyable and fun and very frustrating. I have been utterly pissed off at times, and so have they. After all, they’re not used to a stubborn bastard like me interfering like this, but it’s been very healthy. Deep down I think they like it, even if they have hated me at times”, Lars Horntveth says.

Paul, who suggested Horntveth as producer, is also very pleased with the process:

“It’s been incredibly inspiring just to sit in the same room and test out ideas on the fly. That’s when you see how much we’re capable of together. When outside elements are introduced, we immediately know when things feel right, and when things don’t work or doesn’t suit us.”

Magne joins in on the praise:

“This has been similar to how we used to work in the 80s, when we lived in the studio, in search of cool stuff. One is pushing things forward, one is holding back, while one is focused on himself. That’s been an important three-headed thing for a-ha, but this current process has given us an incredible team spirit and a creative exchange that we haven’t had in many years.”

Deciding where the MTV Unplugged recording would take place was not an easy task, a-ha manager Harald Wiik says:

“I wanted to build up a whole TV-studio near London, but the band didn’t want that. They wanted to go to the Amazon or the Brazilian city of Belém, but that proved to be too difficult. Then Magne figured we could do something “Norwegian”, inside a stave church, but it would be too small [for such a production]. Morten suggested we solve it by simply using the mannequins from the “The Sun Always Shines on TV”-video as our audience. Finally we ended up here at Giske, which is a completely unique place.”

The article also mentions plans for more a-ha concerts to be added next summer.

As for what this experience could mean for future a-ha collaborations, Paul says:

“Who knows. We’re still like planets spinning around each other, but right now we’re in the same orbit. I can’t remember the last time we had such a natural and easy way of working together.”

Setlist details from MTV Unplugged concert

Picture from MTV Germany on Instagram

a-ha played the first of two MTV Unplugged concerts at Øygardshallen (Giske Harbour Hall) on the island of Giske last night, in front of an audience of around 250 people. Here’s a picture of the band arriving.

The 21-song set included two new a-ha songs; “This is Our Home” (written by Magne) and “Break in the Clouds” (written by Paul), three songs that have rarely been played live; “This Alone is Love”, “Over the Treetops” and “Memorial Beach”, and surprisingly – one song from the Bridges album Fakkeltog (1980); “The Vacant” (jokingly renamed “Sox of the Fox”), but with Morten on vocals instead of Paul.

Additionally, they did a cover version of Echo & The Bunnymen’s 1984 hit “The Killing Moon” with special guest Ian McCulloch, who also joined them on “Scoundrel Days”. American singer Lissie Maurus guested on “I’ve Been Losing You”, while Norway’s own Ingrid Helene Håvik from Highasakite did the same on “The Sun Always Shines on TV”. Alison Moyet was not among the special guests last night, but she will join them on stage on Friday instead.

Mobile phones and other recording eqipment was strictly forbidden inside the venue, so we’ll have to wait for the live CD/DVD/Blu-ray release in October to hear what it sounded like. However, one of the fans attending posted a picture of the stage setlist on Instagram:

1. This is Our Home (New song by Magne)
2. Lifelines
3. I’ve Been Losing You (w/Lissie)
4. Analogue
5. The Sun Always Shines on TV (w/Ingrid Helene Håvik)
6. Break in the Clouds (New song by Paul)
7. Foot of the Mountain
8. Stay on These Roads
9. This Alone is Love
10. Over the Treetops
11. Forever Not Yours
12. Sox of the Fox (aka “The Vacant” by Bridges)
13. Scoundrel Days (w/Ian McCulloch)
14. The Killing Moon (Echo & The Bunnymen cover w/Ian McCulloch)
15. Summer Moved On
16. Memorial Beach
17. Living a Boy’s Adventure Tale
18. Manhattan Skyline
19. The Living Daylights
20. Hunting High and Low
– – – – – – – – – – – – –
21. Take on Me

Also, in keeping with the MTV theme, next year’s tour now seems to have been officially renamed from “An acoustic evening with a-ha” to “a-ha MTV Unplugged Tour 2018”. See a-ha.com tour page.

New book about Paul coming this fall

Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and author Ørjan Nilsson
(Photo by Ivar Kvaal)

October 2017 will see the release of the first book focused on Paul Waaktaar-Savoy’s music, life and career.

The book is called Tårer fra en stein (Tears from a stone) and has been written by Norwegian journalist Ørjan Nilsson, based on extensive interview sessions with Paul in New York, Berlin, Hamburg and Oslo over the last two years.

“I have listened to a-ha all my life, and I have long wanted to take a deeper look at Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, a man who usually doesn’t say too much”, Nilsson tells Dagsavisen.

“It took some time before he opened up, but he hasn’t held back on anything. He has answered any questions and talked about everything from religion, family and adolescence, to the inner conflicts in a-ha and his problems with social anxiety.”

According to a press release about the book, Paul opens up about “his work, mindset and music. About art, film and literature. About his adolescence in suburban Oslo in the 60s and 70s, his life in America over nearly 30 years, his successes and failures. About a-ha, Savoy and Bridges. About giant crowds in arenas and stadiums, about concerts in front of 50 people. About politics, The Doors and Gunvor Hofmo. About his wife Lauren. About Morten and Magne.”

Tårer fra en stein will be published by Falck Forlag, which has previously published books about Hunting High and Low and Scoundrel Days in its series of books about the 100 best Norwegian albums of all time. As part of the same series, Nilsson wrote a book about the Kings of Convenience album Quiet Is the New Loud in 2014.

Giske concerts to be part of MTV Unplugged

Universal Music Norway issued a press release today, confirming that a-ha’s acoustic concerts at Giske next week will be filmed and recorded as part of the long-running MTV Unplugged series.

The setlist will include hit songs, rarely-played album tracks, two brand new a-ha songs and a few cover versions.

A number of special guests will also join a-ha on stage; Alison Moyet, Ian McCulloch (Echo & The Bunnymen), Ingrid Håvik (Highasakite) and Lissie.

The concert will be broadcast on MTV this fall, and released on CD and DVD on 13 October.

After working on the acoustic set in Oslo since late March, rehearsals resumed at the Ocean Sound Recordings studio at Giske on 10 June. Check out the Instagram accounts of Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Lars Horntveth and Madeleine Ossum for exclusive pictures from the process.

And here’s a picture of Morten and violinist Madeleine Ossum at Giske on Monday, apparently.

a-ha to perform at Giske in June

a-ha performing for a small studio audience, September 2015

a-ha recently announced they will be playing two acoustic concerts at Øygardshallen on the island of Giske, Norway on 22 and 23 June, which will result in a live album and DVD to be released later this year.

Even though the ticket price was 4000 kr (£361) for one concert, or 6000 kr (£541) for both concerts, all 500 tickets were sold out within 30 minutes when the sale started yesterday. The vast majority of tickets were sold to fans outside of Norway.

“In total there were around 250 tickets available for each concert. Additionally the band has reserved a number of tickets for friends and family”, Terje Erstad at Ocean Sound Recordings told Sunnmørsposten on Monday.

“I totally understand that 4000 may seem a lot for one ticket, but there is a very high cost per person when you’re doing a big production like this for such a small group of people”, a-ha manager Harald Wiik explained to NRK.

a-ha will be joined by the following musicians for the Giske concerts: Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Even Ormestad, Morten Qvenild, Lars Horntveth, Tove Margrete Erikstad, Madeleine Ossum and Emilie Heldal Lidsheim.

Originally the plan was to do four concerts between 26 June – 30 June, but as Jaga Jazzist will be embarking on a US tour on 25 June, that wouldn’t work. Both Even Ormestad and Lars Horntveth are members of Jaga Jazzist.

‘Mountains of Time’ to be reissued in July

The new Mountains of Time album cover

Savoy’s third and most successfull album Mountains of Time from 1999 is set to be reissued by Apollon Records on 14 July, the label announced on its Facebook page today. The reissue will be available on CD, vinyl and digitally. There will also be limited edition T-shirts.

Update: pre-orders can now be made at the Savoy bandcamp page.

The Mountains of Time reissue was originally slated for release in May this year, with Reasons To Stay Indoors to follow in July, but both of them seem to have been pushed back a few months.

While the cover of last year’s Lackluster Me reissue was mostly similar to the original, this new reissue of Mountains of Time will feature a brand new cover. The cover image seems to interpret the album title quite literally, showing both mountains and an hourglass.

For more info on Savoy and Paul’s other side projects over the years, check out a new and detailed article written by Barry Page for The Electricity Club.

“Open Face” single release

“Open Face” single cover

“Open Face”, the third single from Waaktaar & Zoe’s World of Trouble album, was released on 7 April and can be purchased/streamed here.

A music video for the song, directed by Jenny Woods, premiered exclusively on the French Rolling Stone website today and can also be seen on YouTube.

For more in-depth info on Waaktaar & Zoe, check out the extensive interview Paul did with the Super Deluxe Edition website last month.

As for possible Waaktaar & Zoe live dates, Paul says in the interview there’s still a chance it might happen:

“I would love to because she has a really powerful voice. I’m just trying to figure out how it could be done. I’m toying with the idea of doing a double show, where Savoy can do one half and Zoe can do the other half… stuff like that, to make it workable for me, as well. (…) The original idea was to do some festivals first, in the summer, but it got a little bit tight with the unplugged thing with a-ha, so we’ll see. Once we get to the end of the summer, the fall period is fairly open for me, so I’m hoping that would be a good place to do some gigs.”

Oslo Spektrum shows announced for 2018

a-ha.com has announced two additional dates on the 2018 acoustic tour:

We are excited to share the news that a-ha will perform their acoustic set over two evenings at the Oslo Spektrum on February 9 & 10, 2018!

We’re told these shows will be the band’s only Norwegian shows on the acoustic tour, so don’t miss your chance to see a-ha perform these special arrangements live in their home town!

Ticket Sales
Fan pre-sale – March 30 at 9am CET
Regular on-sale – March 31 at 9am CET

Still no word on where the four concerts this June will be held, but all three band members have been rehearsing at Lars Horntveth’s Pooka Studio in Oslo over the last week. a-ha.com promises videos and photos from the studio to be posted in the coming days.

One picture posted by Horntveth on Instagram on Thursday shows (left to right) Even Ormestad, Paul, Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Magne and Morten Qvenild working on the acoustic set.

Update 30 March: A concert at the O2 Arena in London on 14 February 2018 has also been announced, with tickets going on sale 7 April. This will be the only UK date on the acoustic tour.

‘The Voice’ taping dates announced

“There’s a lot of undiscovered talent out there – this could be interesting!”, Morten said last month

Last month it was revealed that Morten will be one of the mentors on the fourth season of The Voice in Norway, following in the footsteps of Magne, who lead his team and Martin Halla to victory in the show’s first season back in 2012.

Morten will be joined by Lene Marlin, Yosef Wolde-Mariam (Madcon) and Martin Danielle (CLMD) as mentors this year.

The taping dates for the initial blind auditions have now been announced. Eight episodes will be recorded at H3 Arena in Oslo in late April, across four dates:

21 April (16:00)
21 April (19:00)
25 April (16:00)
25 April (19:00)
27 April (16:00)
27 April (19:00)
29 April (16:00)
29 April (19:00)

Tickets are free, and available at shortaudition.com now. Needless to say, this is primarily for people who live in the Oslo area. The show will start airing on TV2 this autumn, probably sometime in August or September.

Update 10 April: Additional taping dates have been announced on a-ha.com:

Battle rounds:
22 May (16:15)
22 May (19:00)
24 May (16:15)
24 May (19:00)

Knockout rounds:
1 June (16:00)
1 June (19:00)
2 June (16:00)
2 June (19:00)

“Texture” opening in Bodø

“It’s great to be back in Bodø”, Magne told NRK

Magne was in Bodø last Thursday, March 9th, for the opening of another exhibition of his Texture collaboration with HM Queen Sonja. This is the fifth out of six planned Texture exhibitions in Norway and the UK.

“It’s fun for me to see this exhibition [in Bodø], as it includes some works that haven’t been shown before. Particularly the monotypes, unique prints that we have made together with double signatures, are quite special”, Magne told the audience at the opening in Bodø Kunstforening.

“Some of these works were made in New York, some at my atelier in Asker, some at the Queen’s atelier at Mågerø, some in Helsingborg and some were made in Copenhagen.”

A gallery of pictures from the opening has been posted on Bodø Kunstforening’s Facebook page, along with two video clips of Magne speaking (Video 1 / Video 2).

Press reports from the opening include an article at bodonu.no and a short clip on NRK Nordland‘s local TV news.

The following day Magne made a visit to Kjerringøy near Bodø.

The final stop on the Texture exhibition tour is at Gulden Kunstverk in Steinberg, where it opens on 29 April.

———————

Sadly, this weekend also brought news that the poet Henning Kramer Dahl passed away on 7 March from heart failure, at the age of 54. He was part of a-ha’s inner circle and knew the band members from early on.

In 1986 Kramer Dahl wrote the book Så Blåser Det På Jorden together with Håkon Harket, which chronicled the beginnings of Bridges and a-ha in the late 70s and early 80s. He would later collaborate with Magne on a number of projects, including Blåtoneboulevardene (1997), Stjerneskutt (2004) and In Transit (2013).

He also co-wrote the song “East-Timor” for Morten’s Wild Seed album in 1995.

Magne, Håkon Harket, Lasse Kolsrud and Fredrik Skavlan have written an obituary about Kramer Dahl in Aftenposten. “We have lost a very special person, an important presence in our lives, and the world has lost a distinctive poetic voice and an extraordinary intellect”, they write in the obituary.

Jason Lytle of Grandaddy praises a-ha

Jason Lytle
(Photo by Ryan Smith)

Jason Lytle of critically acclaimed indie band Grandaddy has recently been promoting the band’s latest album Last Place, released on Danger Mouse’s label 30th Century Records. During the interviews he’s been quite vocal about his admiration of a-ha, and in particular the Cast In Steel album.

In an episode of the podcast Fidelity High posted last week, where musicians talk about albums they love, Lytle picked Cast In Steel.

“Believe me, I felt the pressure to take the Beatles or Rolling Stones or The Who or The Kinks- route. And there’s a lot of modern records I really like, that could have made the list. But I always feel compelled to mention a-ha, because they have been a favorite band of mine for a long time”, Lytle says in the podcast.

The California musician, who has also released several solo albums, is intrigued by the a-ha members’ ability to keep writing good songs:

“The fact that they can make a record this far into being a-ha, and have it still be of such high quality, is really intriguing to me”, he says.

Lytle produced the Band of Horses album Why Are You OK last year, and says he’s especially impressed by the production on a-ha’s later albums:

“Paul Waaktaar, who is one of the chief songwriters and handles a lot of their production, he’s pretty good at enhancing moments and just cranking up the drama level in certain key moments, when it needs to be. And Morten Harket, who is their lead singer, he has a freakin’ amazing voice. They write the songs perfectly to suit his voice, so that helps.”

The Grandaddy frontman picks “Under The Makeup” as the featured song in the podcast, and says he’s definitely inspired by a-ha’s music:

“There’s something soaring, it just glides and it soars. I like music that I can get easily lost in, and they seem to hit a lot of moments like that. And I get inspired by that, definitely.”

Here are links to some other recent interviews where Lytle mentions a-ha:
loudandquiet.com    diymag.com    vice.com    telerama.fr

Paul interviewed in Musikkpraksis

Cover of Musikkpraksis, #1/2017

Paul is on the cover of the latest issue of Norwegian music magazine Musikkpraksis. Inside there’s a 10-page report from Paul’s home studio in Brooklyn, where he recorded the newly released Waaktaar & Zoe album.

“When you hear her sing, she sounds like she could be 20, 30 or 40 [years old]. I find that really cool”, Paul says of Zoe Gnecco.

“I tend to write songs based on where I’m at in my own life. When I get someone else to interpret them, who’s in a totally different place, it does something to the songs. You feel like you’re hearing them from two different angles. Something that means one thing from my viewpoint, means something else from hers.”

He is also pleased with the World of Trouble mixing process, which was done with Steve Osborne.

“The good thing about Steve is that I can give him a bit more than he needs. Whereas many others want to include absolutely everything in the mix, Steve isn’t afraid to remove things. He knows what might potentially hinder the melody, and what might strengthen or weaken the groove.”

Among other things, the interview also covers Paul’s current preferences when it comes to microphones, amps and guitars. As for future releases, there is a lot of material from the last few years that’s just waiting to be heard.

“I have a lot of songs ready, and it’s only now that I’m starting to release things. But I can’t just release everything all at once, that would be too much. I need to release [Waaktaar & Zoe], then Savoy, and then the next one.”

From Musikkpraksis, #1/2017

A few more translated quotes from the interview have been posted on a-ha.com.

The magazine is now available in selected Narvesen stores across Norway. The price is 149 kr (£14).

Magne interviewed in Krigsropet

Cover of Krigsropet, #9/2017

Magne is on the cover of this week’s issue of Krigsropet, which is the Salvation Army’s magazine in Norway. Inside there’s a 6-page interview with him about his Imprints sculpture park at Fornebu near Oslo, which opened in June last year.

(Update: The full interview is now also available online.)

The park is comprised of around 50 ceramic elements, including the world’s biggest jars, with many of them incorporating Magne’s own poetry.

“Using those poems is somewhat risky, as they are of a personal, private character. In my way of writing there’s an inherent melancholy. That’s the case with a-ha as well. We look at melancholy as a force, a longing, something that liberates you from something heavy”, Magne tells Krigsropet.

The interviewer mentions how people have pointed out that his writings are often influenced by religion and theology.

“Wondering and searching for meaning is closely related to faith. Shifting between doubt and faith is a necessary principle to embody a message. I have done a lot of reading and I use things from my own upbringing and culture. As a visual artist I visit the churches in every city I go to, to get inspiration. There isn’t much difference between sitting in an atelier or a chapel, transported away from all outside noise. In concentration I find silence. The church room opens the door to contemplation, it creates a room for thought. But I’m more into asking the right questions than finding the right answers. Faith and doubt is something you’re always thinking about”, Magne says.

From Krigsropet, #9/2017

The interview also mentions that new features have been added to the sculpture park in recent months, in the form of clouds of steam that suddenly appear, to make the sculptures appear as living and breathing entities.

“This isn’t a park that shows itself off, instead it’s hiding. Sometimes we have to walk around and search for things. It’s a journey of discovery, and I hope it triggers a sense of wonder.”

As always, Magne is busy with a variety of different projects. In January he spent a week in Denmark with HM Queen Sonja, continuing their collaborative work on graphic prints. Their joint exhibition Texture will continue its tour at Bodø Kunstforening in Bodø (9 March – 2 April) and Gulden Kunstverk in Steinberg (29 April – 21 May).

And this summer he will hold a solo exhibition at Galleri G Guddal in Rosendal (1 July – 20 August).

‘World of Trouble’ now available

Album cover

Waaktaar & Zoe’s long-awaited World of Trouble album is released today by Drabant Music, and is now available digitally on Spotify, iTunes, Tidal etc. through this link.

If you prefer physical formats, the album is also available on CD, black vinyl, purple vinyl and blue vinyl. All formats can be ordered from Drabant Music (worldwide shipping).

In a review in Vårt Land’s paper edition, music critic Olav Solvang writes that Paul “delivers several rock solid applications for new pop classics” and that Zoe’s vocals “fit perfectly with Waaktaar’s quirky, and at times demanding, songs”. He feels that “Beautiful Burnout” is “a powerful pop song that should become an international hit” and that she sings it “with an impressive maturity and presence”.

Other Norwegian album reviews so far include Aftenposten (3/6), Dagsavisen (3/6), Gaffa (3/6) and VG (3/6).

Zoe was a guest on NRK P1’s Kveldsåpent last night. The radio interview can be heard at radio.nrk.no. There is also an interview with Paul in Dagsavisen today.

Magne appears on new Janove Ottesen album

Janove Ottesen and Magne in Bergen, May 2016.
(Posted by Ottesen on Instagram)

Kaizers Orchestra vocalist Janove Ottesen released his second solo album Artisten & Marlene in Norway on 10 February.

According to a review of the album in newspaper Fædrelandsvennen (for subscribers only), Magne makes a guest appearance on one of the songs:

“[The song] ‘I Natt Blir Du Fri’ includes some very a-ha sounding synths, played by none other than Magne Furuholmen.”

The album was recorded at Duper Studio in Bergen last year.

Ottesen posted a picture of himself and Magne on Instagram last year, in connection with the a-ha concert in Bergen in May. He also attended Apparatjik’s Day of the Dead performance the following month.

The 15-track Artisten & Marlene album is available on CD, double vinyl and digitally.

In other news, Magne appeared at the Stockholm Furniture Fair on Friday, to present his new “Imprints” limited edition rug collection. See some pictures from the furniture fair here and here.

For more info on the rug collection, check out a new interview with Magne by Architectural Digest.

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