Magne planning album release in August

Live in Barcelona 2022
(Photo by Carlos Maciá)

Magne has revealed on Instagram that he’s planning to release his new solo album in August this year. Alongside some new photos with babygoats on the farm he co-owns on the island of Stormolla in Lofoten, Norway, he writes:

“with your help i am planning some sort of release of my new album 31st of august in norway. should really have happened last year, but hey – longcovid was no joke!”

In early 2023 Magne was working on the album in his home studio with producer Bjarne Stensli, who also produced 2019’s White Xmas Lies. Later he and Stensli were joined by Karl Oluf Wennerberg and Even Ormestad for a recording session at Magne’s holiday home in Vence, Southern France, in June 2023. This is also where he recorded A Dot Of Black In The Blue Of Your Bliss back in 2007.

It will be interesting to see if Magne is planning to perform live in connection with the album release, like he did with White Xmas Lies.

What we do know is that on 12 September there will be a Q&A session with Magne at Aker Tech House, the recently opened office building located right next to his “Imprints” sculpture park at Fornebu. The event will be hosted by legendary Norwegian footballer Jan Åge Fjørtoft, who now works for Aker Property Group. It’s not clear if it’s open to the public, but more info is to follow.

Magne has been keeping a low profile so far this year, apart from a few appearances. On 10 February he attended the Ultimate Tennis Showdown (UTS) event at Telenor Arena near Oslo, where he could be seen in the TV broadcast during the match between Casper Ruud and Nicolai Kjær.

While on 11 April he visited Høyenhall School at Manglerud, where four of his artworks were added to the school’s art collection. Both Magne and Paul went to primary school at Høyenhall in the late 60s/early 70s, and there is now a conference room called “Furuholmen” and another conference room called “Waaktaar”, named after its two most famous students.

One who’s been keeping an even lower profile recently is Morten Harket, who made his last public appearence in October 2022. But he’s been seen out and about occasionally, most recently at IKEA in Oslo last weekend, 4 May. Regina Crosby Haug, an American filmmaker living in Norway who’s also the founder of the OneWhale organization, ran into Morten there and posted a picture with him on her Instagram.

CD version of Under coming in March

Picture by Jakob

The first part of a new Fan Q&A with Paul was posted on a-ha.com this week.

In it, he reveals that Savoy’s Under will be getting a CD release next month. Originally the album was only released physically on vinyl, but many fans have requested it on CD as well.

The CD can now be pre-ordered from edda.tigernet.no, with a March 15th release date.

Paul also shared exciting plans for the Savoy back-catalogue:
“With SAVOY we have remastered the back-catalogue of albums yet to be digitally released which we’ll get to after ‘Under’. Vinyl & CD could happen too. We’ll also be going back to the master tapes for hi-res versions of all our videos and documentaries so they can be added to our YouTube Savoy channel.”

There is work being done on the a-ha back-catalogue as well:
“a-ha are in the process of making sure all the albums are available on all the platforms in extended deluxe versions, and I’m sure there will be vinyl/CD’s available at times too.”

And he says his Waaktaar solo album will finally be released later this year:
“At this point it can venture off in different directions but I’m pretty happy with the material.”

Read the whole Fan Q&A on a-ha.com

There is also a new interview with Paul on the Norwegian music site Popklikk.

Paul and Lauren on BBC radio

On stage with Savoy

Paul and Lauren were interviewed by Richard Green on BBC Radio Devon on Saturday, February 10th. The whole 14-minute interview is available at bbc.co.uk.

Lauren on the reception the album is getting:
“[We’re] super proud and very excited. It’s such a good feeling when you work so hard – just the two of us, working away – that when it goes out there, some people do recognize it and like it.”

Paul on possible Savoy concerts:
“We’d love to, it would really be nice. Lauren is the only one I know that hasn’t had Covid yet, so she’s very careful and that might present some challenge to travel around a lot. But we would absolutely love to play live, so we’re looking into it.”

Paul was also asked if there is any possibility of a-ha getting together again:
“[True North] was a strange period, because we were in the middle of the Hunting High and Low Tour – and that got postponed so many times – so we never got around to actually touring the True North album. We sort of ran out of time.

And with a-ha, we’ve always done things in an ebb and flow sort of style. We do one thing, then we retract and then we come back and do something else. There’s always things being discussed. I think our fans know us. We come back when we feel “OK, now we’re gonna do something”. It could definitely happen.”

Paul was also interviewed on the radio show Kveldsåpent on NRK P1 earlier this week, but the audio is unfortunately not available online. Update (21/2): The interview is now available.

And although Under is the first Savoy album that has failed to enter the official Norwegian Top 40 album chart, it continues to garner positive feedback from fans and critics.

Puls‘ reviewer describes the album as really excellent pop/rock, and that “Coming Down” sounds like something Paul McCartney would wish he’d written. He also praises Waaktaar’s ability to come up with “quirky chord progressions” in his songs:
“The ones that turn up unexpectedly, outside the box – but still slide into the ear canal like cream on strawberries. Listen to the opening track “Lonely Surfer”, and I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean”.

Popklikk gives special mention to the album’s production and vocal deliveries:
“The music has been placed inside a modern and meticulously crafted production, where a vital and playful soundscape adds a fine mixture of pleasure and energy to the songs. A production that has room for both string arrangements and electronic equipment.
One of the best things about ‘Under’ is how the couple Paul and Lauren sing so beautifully throughout the album, both individually and together. While the frequent backing vocals add freshness to the music and acts like a melodic supplement.”

Norway Rock‘s album review (in English) is more lukewarm, but does highlight the production and other high-quality elements:
“The title track has an excellent Bowie-esque chorus (and there are echoes of his work and sound throughout, along with Beatles and Beck), “Life and Times of a Wannabe” has some first-rate guitar work on it, edgy riffs and some good textures. Likewise, “Coming Down”, which also exemplifies Frode Unneland’s drumming on the record, which is generally prominent in the mix, and with good reason, as it carries the record along well.”

Frode: “We are very satisfied with the album”

Frode Unneland

Savoy drummer Frode Unneland was the main guest on the Norwegian radio show Stjernepose on NRK P13 this week, to talk about the new Savoy album Under.

Below are some translated quotes from the conversation.

On the album:
“We are very satisfied with it. It was an easy recording process and it’s a very structured and cohesive album. To us there’s a common thread throughout the concept that is ‘Under’. Paul has said that many of the songs were written during Covid lockdowns. His lyrics are personal, but I can relate to the loneliness that he describes. Walking down empty streets and so on.”

Starting the recording process:
“a-ha had finished their [2022] tour and Paul was staying for a week in Oslo, alone in their house. He called me up and asked if I wanted to come over, drink some wine and listen to some new songs he’d made.

When I entered his home studio he had put up a large sheet of paper with 13 songs on it, and we just started at the top of the list. He had already recorded some rough demos that I played along to, and then I was able to add my own drumming style to that. It was really fun to play on this album, because things started to gel really fast. We did all the songs in around three days.”

Old and new:
“On this album there’s one song that we’ve recorded a few times before, but never made the cut because we weren’t quite happy with it. But this time we suddenly figured it out. But Paul is constantly writing new material, and sometimes he’s amassed a lot of songs that he needs to release – or at least record.”

Across the Atlantic:
“So we did the initial recordings very quickly, but then he went home to the US and continued working from there. He’s in California, I’m in Norway, but he’ll send me video clips from the studio of things he’s working on, like a new keyboard part or guitar part. And he’s eager to get my feedback.”

Recording his own vocals:
“All my own vocal tracks were recorded in the bedroom of our house [in Bergen], and that worked really well. It’s the first time that I’ve recorded something without Paul being present. But I don’t know much about using computers to record things, so I enlisted the help of my youngest son Filip. So on the cover it says “engineered by Filip Unneland” and that’s really cool. And Paul really loved how it sounded, so he gifted him a black Ludwig drum kit and lots of compressors and microphones.”

Why Savoy rarely play live:
“The [2018] concert [in Oslo] was incredibly fun. After the show everyone were like “we need to do this again!”. But then another a-ha tour got in the way. That’s what happens. (…) There’s also the challenge of hiring new backing musicians and rehearsing extensively – yet again. Although Paul knows that I’d do it in a heartbeat. But we do get lots of offers to play live, here and there. Paul’s latest suggestion was that perhaps I could put together a Savoy cover band, that would have been much easier! [laughs]”

New Savoy album Under out now

This is the Transparent Orange version of the vinyl. Transparent Lime and Black are also available.

Savoy’s seventh studio album Under is released on their own label Eleventeen Records today. Available now digitally on streaming, or physically on vinyl. It doesn’t seem like there will be a CD version this time.

The 10-track album has been produced and arranged by Savoy, mixed by Simon Vinestock and mastered by Joe Lambert. It features contributions from familiar names such as Hågen Rørmark, Per Hillestad, Joe Mardin and True August. Frode Unneland’s son Filip is credited as one of the engineers.

The music video for latest single “Coming Down” has also premiered today and can be seen on YouTube. Directed by Jason Brandenberg.

The newspaper Dagsavisen gives the album 5/6 in its review (paywall), highlighting the title track:
” “Under” is a guitar-driven song where the chorus sounds like something David Bowie could have made after his late comeback, a melancholic pop song kept in a psychedelic drive and with large contrasts in both the vocals and arrangements. This is Savoy at their most experimental, but also at their most accessible. Some of the same Bowie-esque way of singing can be heard in “Lonesome Alone”, while the production on the album consistently builds intricate layers of atmosphere, sounds and nice details, especially in the guitar playing and some of the string arrangements.”

Dagsavisen’s reviewer also mentions “Camden Palace Chronicles” as another highlight on the album, calling it “a pop-aesthetic jewel of a song, with beautiful vocals from Lauren”. He concludes that “Under is more proof that some of the best and most ambitious music Paul Waaktaar-Savoy has written (with Lauren), he’s kept for himself and for Savoy”.

Another positive review of Under comes from Dagens Næringsliv (paywall):
“Their seventh studio album Under sounds quite inspired. This is their best album in a long time, featuring ten well-written quality songs. (…) It’s a consistent record, but check out songs like “Digital River” and “Pure as Driven Snow” as examples of excellent, mature pop.”

Two-page interview with Lauren and Paul in Klassekampen, 2 February.

Meanwhile, Klassekampen has interviewed Paul and Lauren across two pages in today’s paper issue (paywall).

“The move [to LA] has given us new impulses and influenced the finished result quite a lot”, Paul says of the new album.

“We have also found inspiration from musicians who have worked here, like the Laurel Canyon-scene in the 1960s and 70s”, Lauren adds.
“A song like “Station” is somewhat inspired by The Mamas & the Papas, with its layered vocals”.

They both mention Frode as being a very important part of the band:
“Frode spreads a lot of good energy around. His vocal parts are also an integral part of our sound, as on the new song “Pure as Driven Snow””, Paul says.

They refer to each song on Under as its own journey and what Paul calls pieces of the big puzzle:
“At the same time we’re chasing that feeling of goosebumps. Most of the songs have been through many versions, and in the end you just have to trust your gut feeling”.

“With this trio of ours we don’t have to think about ticket sales, endless touring and all that. In Savoy we’re doing this out of love for the music and because we want to create something we’re proud of”, Paul says.

New Savoy single “Coming Down”

Single cover (photo by Paul)

“Coming Down” is the fourth single off Savoy’s upcoming album Under, and is released today.
The song is available on Spotify, Apple Music etc, and has also been posted on YouTube. A music video is on the way, according to Paul.

VG has reviewed “Coming Down”, giving it 4/6:
“Even 28 years into their career, it’s fair to describe the collaboration between the married couple Waaktaar-Savoy and Bergen drum genius Frode Unneland as a “con amore” project. As with any labour of love, [Savoy] just keep getting better and better as the years go by. “Coming Down” is a soft reflection about places you’ve been and places where others are. A simple tune, really. But then Paul Waaktaar-Savoy sings so softly and beautifully that you just have to adore it.”

Song credits:

Producer, Arranger: Savoy
Mixer: Simon Vinestock
Mastering Engineer: Joe Lambert
Recording Engineer: Filip Unneland
Recording Engineer, Lyricist: Pål Waaktaar Savoy
Lyricist: Lauren Savoy

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