a-ha is one of the biggest pop successes in Norwegian history. In autumn '85, the trio reached no. 1 in the US and no. 2 in the UK with their début single Take On Me. They went on to wreak havoc on the charts with eighteen hit singles and six albums, including the collection ‘Headlines and Deadlines – The Hits of a-ha’, and wrote the title theme for the James Bond film ‘The Living Daylights’ in '87. Following the release of 1993’s ‘Memorial Beach’ the band went on a hiatus for a number of years, returning in 2000 with the strong come-back album ‘Minor Earth Major Sky’.
a-ha’s latest studio album was 2002’s ‘Lifelines’, and it was followed by a live recording the next year; ‘How Can I sleep With Your Voice In My Head – a-ha Live’. 2004 marked the trio’s 20th anniversary which was celebrated with a release of a singles collection: ‘The singles 1984 -2004’.
According to a press statement on the trio’s web-site, a-ha have now begun preparations for a new studio album that’s scheduled for a release later this year. The following statement has been published on the official a-ha site: “Morten, Magne and Paul have been recording a lot of new songs for the forthcoming album. All three of them are contributing to the songwriting, and they seem to have at least 20 - 30 songs to pick from so far. The development process has taken place in London, New York and Oslo.
The guys are spending time together in the studio for the first time in a while, trying out different ideas, adding and removing different instruments, to see what suits the specific song. Some songs that start out as ballads might end up as a rock 'n' roll number. "This sounds a bit like a U2 Christmas Carol," Magne says about one take. So they change it.
They work almost surprisingly well together, and seem to have a lot of fun in the studio. The mood is relaxed and everybody seems very inspired. a-ha are yet in the process of deciding which producer(s) they will use, but Martin Terefe, who produced Magne's solo album Past Perfect Future Tense, has been involved in the recording sessions this far.”
The upcoming and as of yet untitled album will be released on Universal. a-ha’s previous albums were released on Warner, but in May last year the band announced that they would team up with Universal from now on. Said a-ha’s manager Brian Lane on the deal last spring: "The multi-million Euro deal represents a natural development in a-ha's recording career. Universal are arguably the most successful record company in the world at a time when the recording industry is going through major difficulties."
The deal was signed through Polydor in Germany, and according to a press statement, a-ha also intend to work closely with Petter Singsaas and his staff at Universal Norway who will be handling the Scandinavian market.
Said Lane on the collaboration with the new partner: "Universal International are looking to fully exploit a-ha's latent potential in markets such as the USA and the United Kingdom. In connection therewith, following the release of the first studio album, a-ha intend to undertake a comprehensive global tour, incorporating Europe, the USA, South America and the Far East."
Magne F releases solo album in the UK
a-ha keyboardist Magne Furuholmen is also enjoying a career as a respected painter and solo artist. Under the name Magne F he released his debut album “Past Perfect Future Tense” to critical acclaim last autumn in Norway. The album is now set for release in the UK through Private & Confidential Records. “Past Perfect Future Tense” includes some heavyweight contributors; Ed Harcourt, Andy from Travis as well as Will and Guy from Coldplay. Magne F and band toured the UK in January and played a strong set at last week’s Fresh Air at Fabric.
MIC will return with review excerpts and new tour dates shortly.
Morten Harket, Artist