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Released Jun 19, 2009

Foot Of The Mountain (2009)

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"It was about time that we reached out a little more," says a-ha singer Morten Harket of the group's new album Foot Of The Mountain. The album marks a return to the classic pop sound that made a-ha one of the biggest acts in the world. 

As keyboard player Magne Furuholmen explains, "It's an album that incorporates the key elements that first defined the band: soaring vocals, synth hooks, yearning lyrics and melodic melancholia." Or as guitarist and principal songwriter Paul Waaktaar-Savoy puts it more simply: "I think we got a great collection of songs this time around."

Written and recorded in various major cities — from Oslo, where the band formed in 1982, to New York, where Paul now lives — Foot Of The Mountain is, in Morten's words, "predominantly a synth-based album." The ten new songs carry echoes of the band's early signature hits: "Take On Me", "The Sun Always Shines On TV" and "I’ve Been Losing You".

Paul wrote the majority of the new songs: five co-written with Magne, four written alone. He also experimented with some new techniques. "Riding The Crest" — described by Paul as "an electro blues" — was inspired by Arcade Fire's use of the 12-bar form on their 2007 album Neon Bible. "Real Meaning" was a happy accident: an idea that came spontaneously when Paul called home from Russia and was greeted by his answering machine. "As a joke I started singing away and this song fell out," he laughs. "I meant every word, though." And on "Start The Simulator", Paul employed a novel lyrical style, drawing on the technical jargon of the Cold War era's Space Race. "The basic idea," he says, "was to make a song using only technical terms and phrases, and still make it very emotional and personal. There is such poetry in the old Apollo manuals: "switch to Omni Bravo" and "the bright ejector blanket". It was quite a hard song to record as it changes both time signatures and keys as it goes along. What sounded so simple on the piano got very quickly complicated when it was translated to a full arrangement. I think we got there in the end though!"

There are also three songs that reflect Paul's emotional connection to his natural and adopted homelands. "Shadowside", he says, "feels quite Norwegian — in the melody, the chords and the mood". "The Bandstand" reminds him of his first trip to New York City in the early '80s, before a-ha were famous. "Songs are like a photo-album — they can really send you back. And this one reminds me of arriving at Port Authority with $35 in my pocket, sporting really high, yellow, almost see-through synthesizer-hair, wearing a tiger-shirt and a brown suit, looking like an alien!" And the album's title track, "Foot Of The Mountain" — fashioned from two previously separate songs, one written by Paul, the other by Magne — examines one of the fundamental conflicts of modern life, the pull between nature and big-city civilization: for Paul, the buzz of New York City versus the beauty and isolation of Norway. "It's the dilemma of loving a city life, yet secretly wondering if we'd be happier being surrounded by open fields and sweeping mountains."

Liner Notes:

MIXED BY STEVE OSBORNE AT REAL WORLD STUDIOS, UK

MASTERED BY TIM YOUNG AT METROPOLIS/KEVIN METCALFE AT THE SOUNDMASTERS, UK

RECORDED AT WATER MUSIC, BEAT 360 & THE ALABASTER ROOM (NYC); YOGA STUDIO, ALABASTER COTTAGE, MALABAR STUDIO & RAINBOW STUDIO (NORWAY); GAGA STUDIOS & BOOGIE PARK STUDIOS (GERMANY); REAL WORLD STUDIOS (UK)

PHOTOS BY STIAN ANDERSEN, GUY BERRYMAN, ISTOCKPHOTO AND HELGE KVAMME

COVER DESIGN BY MARTIN KVAMME

Programming by Erik Ljunggren, Mark Saunders, Pete Davis, Roland Spremberg, Chris Papendieck & Jochen Schmalbach

Engineered by Erik Ljunggren, Manfred Faust, James Frazee & George Tanderø. Assisted by Robin Baynton and Adam Daniels

Strings arranged by Kjetil Bjerkestrand. Recorded by Jan Erik Kongshaug

ADDITIONAL MUSICIANS
Guitars: Steve Osborne, Roland Spremberg, Chris Papendieck, Albert Bjerglund Keyboards: Erik Ljunggren, Roland Spremberg, Chris Papendieck Bass: Steve Osborne, Roland Spremberg Drums: Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Jens Carstens, James Frazee Strings: André Orvik, Harald Aadland, Vergard Johnsen, Eileen Siegel, Jørn Halbakken, Alyson Read, Hans Morten Stensland, Øyvind Fosshelm, Bogumila Dowlasz-Wojcikowska, Dorthe Dreier, Stig Ove Ose, Ida Bryhn, Hans Josef Groh, Cecilia Götestam, Johannes Martens

Track List

Disc 1 Foot Of The Mountain (2009)

  • 1: The Bandstand
  • 2: Riding The Crest
  • 3: What There Is
  • 4: Foot Of The Mountain
  • 5: Real Meaning
  • 6: Shadowside
  • 7: Nothing Is Keeping You Here
  • 8: Mother Nature Goes To Heaven
  • 9: Sunny Mystery
  • 10: Start The Simulator

Lyrics The Bandstand

You stand in the doorway
A block up the street
Ringing the doorbell
There’s tapping of feet
High yellow hair
And a worn brown suit...
Enter, and break the news

Now tell me the story
I give it the time
No need to worry
Everything’s fine
I’ll take you away
From the name-calling scene
Sure... you can bring your magazine

Cold and windblown on the old bandstand
You and I walking hand in hand
A neon-glow shining
Down on us
Don’t wait up for us
Don’t wait up for us

Now tell me the story
I’ll give it the time
When you stop looking
Then you will find
I’ll take you away
From this name-calling scene
Just bring your magazine

Cold and windblown on the old bandstand
You and I walking hand in hand
A neon-glow shining
Down on us
Don’t wait up for us
Don’t wait up for us

Words by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Music by Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy,
Produced by Mark Saunders

Lyrics Riding The Crest

You search your mind
That’s what it’s there for
Check all the whys’
And all the wherefores’
In your mind
You’re tall and brave
Riding the crest
Of a high and beautiful wave

You make your movements known
And where you want to be
And everybody knows
That’s how it’s got to be
In the sheltered morning sun
In the sheltered morning sun

Internally
You make your own rules
You’ll have excuses
The ones that you choose
In the end
You deem unsafe;
Riding the crest
Of a high and beautiful wave

You make your movements known...

There comes a time
You don’t even know what’s missing
Some sugar to make the pill go down
You need a line
A push in the right direction
The sugar that makes the pill go down

True
True to form
True to pre-existing norms
Truly wasted
At a rave
Riding the crest
Of a high and beautiful wave

Words by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Music by Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Produced by Steve Osborne, Erik Ljunggren and a-ha, with elements produced by Mark Saunders

Lyrics What There Is

Empty glass
Gets another round
Squeaky chair
Makes another sound
There is a gentle breeze
Playing in your hair
Come take a bow
While you’re still
All there

It’s what it is
It’s what it was
It’s what it will be here
After us

There is no memory
There’s no recall
No recollections
At all

Your dark glasses
Sliding down your nose
Now bring these proceedings
To a close

It’s what there is
It’s what there was
It’s what will be here
After us

Your dark glasses
Sliding down your nose
Now bring these proceedings
To a close

You can make it all worthwhile
You can lend yourself some style
You can give them all the reasons
All the facts that you have seasoned

You can hear them hoot and holler
As you come across a scholar
You can set your name in lights
You can make two wrongs a right

Words by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Music by Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Produced by Steve Osborne, Erik Ljunggren and a-ha, with elements produced by Mark Saunders

Lyrics Foot Of The Mountain

Keep your clever lines
Hold your easy rhymes
Silence everything
Silence always wins
It’s a perfect alibi
There’s no need to analyse
It will be alright through the longest night
Just silence everything

But we could live by the foot of a mountain
We could clear us yard in the back
Build a home by the foot of the mountain
We could stay there and never come back

Learn from my mistake
Leave what others take
Speak when spoken to
And do what others do
Silence always wins
So silence everything
It will be alright in the morning light
Just silence everything

But we could live by the foot of a mountain
We could clear us yard in the back
Build a home by the foot of the mountain
We could stay there and never come back
We could stay there and never come back

You know it
We could leave tonight

But we could live by the foot of a mountain
We could make us a white picket fence
Build a home by the foot of the mountain
We could stay there and see how it ends
We could stay there and see how it ends
We could stay there and see how it ends

Words by Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Music by Magne Furuholmen, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and Martin Terefe
Produced by Roland Spremberg

Lyrics Real Meaning

Don’t change me
I’m gonna break if you try

Don’t change you
You know the tears
I’m gonna cry

And I sure will
Miss us when we’re gone

You’re the real meaning of the sun
It shows you off to everyone
You’re the real meaning of the sun
It shows you off to everyone
The real meaning
I want the real meaning

Don’t fix me
It breaks my heart
To see you try

Don’t fix you
And leave me for
Some other guy

And I sure will
 Miss us when we’re done

You’re the real meaning of the sun
It shows you off to everyone
You’re the real meaning of the sun
It shows you off to everyone

When I’m thinking about you fondly
Then I’m thinking about the only
Real meaning of the sun

You’re the real meaning of the sun
It shows you off to everyone
You’re the real meaning of the stars
They guide me to the places you are
The real meaning
I want the real meaning

Words by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Music by Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Produced by Steve Osborne, Erik Ljunggren and a-ha, with elements produced by Mark Saunders

Lyrics Shadowside

The shadowside
You say I have
Is making everything
Go bad

You say I don’t
Care enough
For all the things that
I have got

But I do
And I will

I don’t want to see myself descend
Into the shadowside again
If you ever let me go again
In the shadowside I’ll end

The shadowside
Where I go
I’m never where
I’m needed so

You say I don’t
Give enough
That I don’t care for
All I’ve got

But I do
And I will

I don’t want to see myself descend
Into the shadowside again
If you’re letting go of me again
In the shadowside I’ll end

Words and music by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Produced by Roland Spremberg

Lyrics Nothing Is Keeping You Here

The lights change on the hill
The air seems strangely still
Everyone’s asleep

The floorboards creak at dawn
As you walk out on the lawn
The grass is wet beneath

You think it rather strange
You think it rather weird
It’s fair to say that
Nothing is keeping you here
Nothing is keeping you here
Nothing is keeping you here

The phone is off the hook
As you sink into a book
You don’t know where you are

From the world; detached
Unto a girl you latched
It never got too far

And everybody talks
And everybody stares
It’s safe to say that
Nothing is keeping you here
Nothing is keeping you here
Nothing is keeping you here

And everybody's down
And everybody cares
You knew your day to shine
Would come without you here

Come without you here...
Nothing was keeping you here
Nothing is keeping you here

Words and music by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Produced by Roland Spremberg

Lyrics Mother Nature Goes To Heaven

Wrong
You never got it wrong
You always got it right
But now some time has passed;
You’re ever so slightly off
Thing you could do asleep
In a not too distant past,
Are trying your patience
Harder now

And though
Everything moves along
You hope the rumour’s wrong
That Mother Nature
Goes to heaven

Right
You never got it right
It always got away
When you had it nailed
It was ever so slightly off
Sending you somewhere else
Than where you had to be
Making it that much
Harder now

And though
You’re struggling to get on track
It pales somewhat to the fact
That Mother Nature goes to heaven

And there will be no sadder day
When all the birds
Have flown away

Words and music by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Produced by Roland Spremberg, with elements produced by Mark Saunders

Lyrics Sunny Mystery

You can run through every forest
You can sail in the seven seas
You can climb the highest mountain
To try and dissolve these memories

In case you never knew it
You can’t undo it

You can jump off the edge of the world
Hide out in some monastery
Lose your mind in meditation
And never put your mind at ease

You think you’re running to it
But you are wading through it
A sunny mystery

Life is the dream that you wake up to
Dreams are the life from which you wake
Everybody makes the extra effort
Never knowing what to do

But you know the answer
Yeah, you know the score
It feels just like before

It’s a sunny mystery
That’s how it’s got to be
Because no one knows for sure
The outcome of this
Sunny mystery

Words and music by Magne Furuholmen
Produced by Steve Osborne, Erik Ljunggren and a-ha, with elements produced by Mark Saunders

Lyrics Start The Simulator

Start the simulator
Controllers, listen up
What’s your status, Guidance?
Let’s take it from the top
Coming up on docking
The beginnings of a tear
Clearing the tower
We take the air

Start the simulator
Give your tanks a stir
The bright ejecta blanket
All is still a blur
Switch to Omni Bravo
B bus under volt
Roll right to zero
Steady as she goes

We’re going to fly so high,
Into the rendered sky
We’re going to be all right
Inside the endless night

Start the simulator
I.S.O. valves are gray
EDS to manual
Translation looks okay
Save it for the splash-down
Things you want undone
You’re in command now
Your home away from home

You’re in control now
Now you’re on your own

Words and music by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy
Produced by Mark Saunders and Roland Spremberg

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