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Fra Lippo Lippi comes from Nesoddtangen, near Oslo. Rune Kristoffersen (guitar, bass, keyboards, piano) formed Fra Lippo Lippi in 1978 with two friends, Bjørn Sorkness (bass, keyboards) and Morten Sjøberg (drums, keyboards). Per Øystein Sørensen (vocals, synthesizer, keyboards, piano) joined the band after Bjørn Sorkness left, 1983 just on vocals. 1984 Per Øystein was a full member as well as Øyvind Kvalnes. From 1986, when they signed to Virgin Records U.K., they became a duo; just Rune and Per Øystein. Through the years Espen Dahl helped the band with recording, production and engineering.

 

Early years After recording and releasing an own-produced instrumental limited EP (approx. 1000 copies were pressed) Fra Lippo Lippi enveloped their first album, In Silence on Uniton Records, 1981, with ominous bass lines, death-march percussion, pensive keyboards, and sinister, indecipherable vocals. The album was released in Norway and also in the UK. There was even a limited edition of 1000 copies with a total different sleeve. In Silence was recorded on a 4-track recorder in a basement somewhere in Oslo. Like many post-punk groups in the early '80s, Fra Lippo Lippi attempted to duplicate the funereal rock of Joy Division on their debut album. Joy Division weren't just a dark band; they were a gloomy combo with rhythm and profound lyrics, qualities that many of the group's imitators couldn't capture. The emotional impact of In Silence is muted by incomprehensible vocals and dismal, meandering music. The first track, Out of the ruins, aptly summarizes the rest of the album - horror film bass lines, evil guitar riffs, and bleak, muffled vocals. The album is relentlessly downcast; however, it's more boring than depressing. In Silence seems longer than its running length, because it doesn't move. The ghostly keyboards and sinister bass of A moment like this aim for the density of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album; however, there's no feeling in the song's somber rhythms. Fra Lippo Lippi were still trying to find themselves on In Silence; the band sounds lost, unable to find a hook that wasn't borrowed from The Cure or Joy Division. Another classic instrumental track, Fabric wardrobe, which didn't fit on the In Silence album, ended up 1981 on a German Ata Tak compilation album Fix Planet!. The vocals of Rune improved already on the second EP, which has been released on Uniton Records, 1982. Now and forever is a more catchy song with clearer vocals and lyrics, still monotone and a more pleasant melody. The single was backed with two instrumental piano tracks. Fra Lippo Lippi would improve dramatically with their second album, Small Mercies, but the group exposes their skeletal origins on In Silence, and it's dead on arrival.

 

However, by 1983's the 12" only single The treasure, Per Øystein Sørensen's pop background helped the group to become increasingly melodic. Fra Lippo Lippi created the blueprint for the band they'd eventually become on Small Mercies. On this album, the Norwegian group's roots in gothic rock have yet to be severed, especially with the funeral percussion, grim bass lines, and sinister vocals on Barrier. Nevertheless, the melodic, atmospheric keyboards that linger throughout the record would later shape Fra Lippo Lippi's trademark piano-based new wave pop. In fact, the second track on the album, A small mercy, is the genesis of one of Fra Lippo Lippi's future hits, Every time I see you. The songs on Small Mercies are moody and depressing, but they're appropriate for rainy days. Like Joy Division, Fra Lippo Lippi were able to crawl into life's bleakest recesses and exit with music that emitted an ominous beauty. On The treasure mournful piano, sullen bass, and hypnotic drums illustrate the story of a crumbling relationship; it is stunningly gorgeous. The wintry Some things never change and the picturesque instrumental French painter dead contribute to the record's somber elegance. If Ian Curtis of Joy Division hadn't hung himself, he would've recorded an album like Small Mercies. Mellow and relentlessly sad, it sounds oppressive in the light of day, but it glows in the dark. The 1984 released single Say something was another transformation into the synth-pop. Elements of Small Mercies were still there, but better lyrics and more melody surfaced.

 

Break-through In 1985, Fra Lippo Lippi recorded and released their third album Songs on their own label Easter Productions. This album recorded with Espen Dahl at the Polar Studios in Stockholm had the sound of the new Fra Lippo Lippi. Although this album was only limited released in Norway and Sweden it reached somehow a certain person in the UK; so short after the nordic release they signed with Virgin Records in the U.K., re-releasing their third album, Songs, all over Europe this time. Some of the tracks were re-recorded, again in Stockholm at the Polar Studios with Dave Allen, who worked with bands like The Cure and others. Fra Lippo Lippi jettisoned the gloom of their earlier efforts on Songs, experimenting with synth-pop and romantic balladry powered by Rune Kristoffersen's piano. The transformation enabled the group to achieve minor chart success in England and Canada, but in the Philippines many of their singles became staples on the country's new wave radio stations. Tracks such as The distance between us and Come summer topped request lines. Fra Lippo Lippi shed their skin on Songs. On the album Fra Lippo Lippi leave their gothic past behind, uncovering the pop heart beneath their morose perspective on life. The pulsating new wave beat and sunny chorus of Come summer are exhilarating; Come summer is the opening track and it quickly establishes Fra Lippo Lippi's newfound appetite for upbeat melodies. Sad tunes still abound, but vocalist Per Øystein Sørensen expands the emotional scope of the lyrics. Instead of simply sounding depressed, Sørensen evolves into a soulful storyteller; his empathic voice vividly captures the joy and sorrow of the songs' lyrics. The listener can easily feel sympathy for the man pining for his late lover in Shouldn't have to be like that and the woman who drowns herself in Leaving. Musically, Fra Lippo Lippi proceed in the direction hinted at on their previous album, Small Mercies. Piano and synthesizer started becoming essential to Fra Lippo Lippi's style on Small Mercies, and they're promoted to a larger role on Songs. Shouldn't have to be like that is elevated with uplifting synthesized hooks. On The distance between us crestfallen piano buttresses the agony in Per Øystein Sørensen's voice; the moving keyboards on Coming home sculpt the lyrics' profound resignation. Every time I see you is after Shouldn't have to be like that the second single taken from this re-released album. The basic of the track can be found on the album Small Mercies, as Every time I see you is an upbeated version of A small mercy and it has a refrain this time. The third and last single taken from this album is Come summer. On Songs, Fra Lippo Lippi have basically found themselves, and it's a discovery that is engaging and moving from beginning to end.

 

Because of the minor hit successes of the album and singles, the two previous released albums, In Silence (coupled with the 12" Say something) and Small Mercies were re-released in France, 1986.

 

Let's celebrate a brand new day, proclaims vocalist Per Øystein Sørensen on Crazy wisdom and that statement easily sums up Fra Lippo Lippi's surprisingly smooth evolution from gothic rock to reflective, jazzy pop on Light And Shade, which was produced by Steely Dan's Walter Becker. Not only the production was done by him, he also arranged his own musicians to play along on this album, like Jeff Porcaro, Mark Isham and many others. Fra Lippo Lippi already began shedding their black clothes on Songs, but Light And Shade has the breezy air and sunny disposition of a walk in the park. Released during a decade wherein yuppies stressed the importance of work and money over love and leisure, Light And Shade mainly focuses on life's simple pleasures. It is an uplifting, stylish album that swings like a pendulum between joy and sorrow. The first single taken from the album is the fetching Angel, which soars with a sad yet hummable chorus; it features some of Fra Lippo Lippi's most charming piano work. Some people recalls The Beatles with its singalong melodies. A slightly redone version of the track was released as the second and last single on Virgin Records. Much of Light And Shade resembles the late ‘80s efforts of China Crisis, especially its relaxed, mellow grooves and touches of jazz. The lyrics unfold like short stories. In the moving Beauty and madness Per Øystein Sørensen sings about a homeless man and wonders if anybody will ever see his inner worth. Per manages to avoid being either saccharine or preachy because of the sincerity and soulfulness in his voice. On Light And Shade, Fra Lippo Lippi part the curtains and let the sunshine beam through the window. When the jazz-inflected Light And Shade was released in 1987, Fra Lippo Lippi had become superstars in the Philippines, much to the band's surprise. Largely unknown throughout most of the world, Fra Lippo Lippi performed to sold-out audiences of thousands in Manila, Philippines, in 1989.

 

During the 1986 tour they recorded a concert given in Oslo, 21st October, which had to be released later in 1989. But the album has been delayed all the time and probably it won't be released at all in Europe. This live album, Crash Of Light was released in the Philippines in the early 1990's. Fra Lippo Lippi sounds live brilliant, the music is relaxing, while Per is singing with his best voice to finish off a beautiful soundscape.

 

Post-Virgin Fra Lippo Lippi released two more studio albums. First 1989's The Colour Album on BMG/Ariola. This album was only released in Scandinavia initially. Perhaps this album is the most complete album they ever made. The balance on this album is outstanding; it has catchy tunes, strong lyrics and the atmosphere is perfect. In Love is a lonely harbour, the first single taken from the album, Per Øystein is singing about his sorrow of breaking up a relationship, but in You bring me joy he's singing about, you'll guess, the joy and happiness his love now is giving him. The Colour Album starts with the melodic tunes of A little rain must fall (German promo single as well), followed by a song about mighty rulers and their useless wars, Mothers little soldier, which was after Count on me the third single taken from the album. BMG tried to promote the album in Germany as well by releasing Mothers little soldier also over there in all formats as a single. 1990 the album was also released in Japan.

 

Dreams was the last studio album of the Norwegian duo in the previous millennium, before the lack of commercial success forced the group into indefinite hiatus. This album, only released in Norway (1992) and the far east (Japan, Philippines - 1991), is less dynamic than The Colour Album. The songs are besides Thief in paradise, the first single taken from the album, in a minor key. Rune Kristoffersen and Per Øystein Sørensen are playing almost all the instruments by themselves. The second single, Stitches and burns was released only in Japan and the Philippines. Some other tracks were radio favourites though, like Naive and Not invited.

 

Philippines After the 1987 release Light And Shade several Filipino labels (re-)released within a period of three years (1988-1991) lots of singles: Angel, Everytime I see you, Some people (remix), Light and shade, The distance between us, Some people, The distance between us (again!), Just like me, Say something, Shouldn't have to be like that (live), The distance between us (live), Count on me, Mothers little soldier, Love is a lonely harbour, Stitches and burns, Thief in paradise and Naive. Both the Virgin albums have been released as well as Small Mercies (1988).

 

Compilations Fra Lippo Lippi are still superstars in the Philippines and big in Japan. Over there they released some compilations: 1992 EMI Philippines/Virgin released a 10 track compilation with the 'original' title The Best of Fra Lippo Lippi. This compilation contains 5 tracks from both Songs and Light And Shade. 1993 saw the release of Best of Fra Lippo Lippi, which was only released in Japan. A compilation with not the single-hits, but 9 new versions of old, favourite songs from the albums Songs, Light And Shade and The Colour Album. The album was completed with 3 tracks from their 1992 album Dreams. Later this compilation was released in the Philippines as well, although the sleeve showed some minor changes.

 

In 1995 Fra Lippo Lippi released more or less the same best of compilation in Europe, on CNR/Arcade. This album The Best of Fra Lippo Lippi 85 - 95 has the same 9 re-recorded tracks, 3 tracks from Dreams again and two brand new tracks. One of the tracks Everybody everywhere was 'released' as a promo-single in Norway and The Netherlands. This song has hit-potential, but due of the lack of promotion it didn't receive airplay. If you were in my shoes is the other new song, probably this song didn't make it to the Dreams album. A beautiful piano track. Probably simultaniously CNR/Arcade released another compilation, especially for the Asian countries, entitled Original Hits Collection. This 17 tracks compilation has the same catalog number as the European release, but has a different sleeve, same letter-print design though, and a completely different tracklisting. Instead of the re-recorded 1993 versions and the two brand new tracks, it plays 16 tracks from their classic albums Songs (6 tracks), Light And Shade (5 tracks), The Colour Album (2 tracks), Dreams (3 tracks) and the live version of Fade away.

 

In 1997 there was another compilation in the Philippines on OctoArts/EMI Int'l. this time. Everything on The Virgin Years – Greatest Hits can be found on Fra Lippo Lippi's Songs and Light And Shade albums. There are no 12 extended mixes, no B-sides, and no unreleased tracks. Serious collectors may frown at the absence of rarities, but this CD wasn't made for them. The Virgin Years – Greatest Hits encapsulates the band's post-gothic period; the bottomless despair of In Silence and the foggy landscapes of Small Mercies are excluded from here. When Fra Lippo Lippi signed to Virgin Records in England, the Norwegian group had already developed a taste for pop. Many of the tunes on this album, such as The distance between us, Every time I see you and Angel were played incessantly on new wave radio stations in the Philippines during the '80s; this album provides the band's Filipino fans an opportunity to relive fond memories but it's also an accessible introduction to anybody unfamiliar with the group. Catchy songs are abundant, often impelled by piano or synthesizers. Fra Lippo Lippi were vivid, straightforward storytellers; each track unreels like a short film. The Virgin Years – Greatest Hits is completely free from filler. Although the tracks from Light And Shade were more jazz-influenced than the selections from Songs, the tunes flow smoothly into one another. America was completely oblivious to Fra Lippo Lippi; however, The Virgin Years – Greatest Hits offered an opportunity to hear a group that could have been superstars worldwide. This compilation was released 1997.

 

August 2000, Fra Lippo Lippi did two more sold-out concerts as part of the 'Back to the eighties' concerts in the Philippines. They played together with Mike Francis for a wide audience over more than 15.000 people.

 

In the Philippines Fra Lippo Lippi 'released' a new single at the end of 2001. This one-track radio only promo is called Later. The song is taken from the album In A Brilliant White, which has only been released in the Philippines late 2002. On this album there are no contributions from Rune Kristoffersen, it is only Per Øystein, who is using the name Fra Lippo Lippi for this solo release. The 10 track album was completely recorded in Norway, except the vocals of the second 'single' taken from the album, Wish we were two, a duet with Filipino songstress Kyla, were recorded in the Philippines. MTV Philippines plays every now and then the promotional video for this song. So far Fra Lippo Lippi made 6 promotional videos: Shouldn't have to be like that, Every time I see you, Angel, Love is a lonely harbour, Mothers little soldier and Wish we were two. None of them have ever been commercially released so far.

 

Early 2003 there were two more compilation releases. Their first album In Silence has finally been digitally released, coupled with Small Mercies on one CD entitled The Early years: In Silence & Small Mercies. The album also includes two instrumental b-sides from the 1982 7" EP Now and forever, both tracks also released on CD for the first time. Simultaniously a new best of album saw the light of day, entitled The Best of Fra Lippo Lippi. This one includes all the 1992/93 re-recorded tracks, previously released on the Asian Best of, as well as the a & b-sides of the 1987 classic single-release Angel (Everytime I see you (live) and the full length album version of Angel). This compilation omits the Uniton Records singles, but includes the very hard to get Everybody everywhere. To promote the albums a radio-only single has been sent to Norwegian radio-stations. This release contains the commercially unreleased Henrik Njaa 2003 remix of Shouldn't have to be like that. Both albums have been released late February / early March on the rune grammofon sublabel rune arkiv. The sleeves are designed by Rune Kristoffersen's label-designer Kim Hiorthøy. There are no further release or performance plans for the future.

 

Rune Since Fra Lippo Lippi's departure from the recording studio, Rune Kristoffersen released three instrumental albums, Elephant Song (1993), Monolight (1995) and Free Music (2002), and started his own label, rune grammofon.

 

Re-releases The classic 1985 album Songs has been re-released as a 20th Anniversay Edition. Housed in a small LP-replica sleeve, this version includes the complete unreleased live album Crash Of Light. Summer 2011 all the studio albums have been re-released, this time as part of box-sets with exclsuive linernotes. There is a 4CD box containing the albums Songs, Light And Shade, The Colour Album and Dreams and a limited numbered 6LP edition of 300 copies, which includes also In Silence and Small mercies. All albums are pressed on white vinyl.

 

Per Per Sorensen, the name he uses now, has worked with fellow Norwegian artist Trine Rein, who is coming from his hometown Nesoddtangen as well. Per was also involved in a lot of other mainly Norwegian musical projects. After the In A Brilliant White album has been released in the Philippines it was time to promote this album in his own Norway. DaWorks announced the release and a few promos were of Ordinary guy as leading single were sent to radiostations. Unfortunately the release had been withdrawn. Per continued writing songs, which let to his first completely Norwegian solo album Våge, including the singles A til å and Jeg henger med. It also features a translated version of Later. The popularity and his new songs made him perform in the Philippines again. During February 2010 he performed 5 times, and still the crowd was singing along all classic songs. A new video of Later had been shot and would be followed by an English version of his latest album. Plans changed, Per wrote new songs, re-recorded a few older ones and released a brand new album summer 2012.

 

Early 2012 another Fra Lippo Lippi fan website is available. Unfortunately at the moment it's only in Norwegian, but the pictures from the old days are worth it to check this site as well.

 

In February and May Per performed a few times in Oslo, Norway, with Erland Hansen (guitar) Kristian Kvaksrud (bass) and Geir Digernes (drums) under the name Snowbound - after the Donald Fagen song? They haven't written own material (yet), so their repertoire consists of tracks from Steely Dan, Bonnie Raitt, Fra Lippo Lippi, Donald Fagen, Stevie Wonder and others.

 

The first single taken from the new album is Loneliness, an English version of the previously released track Ensomhet, featured on his album Våge. The second single is Later, which will be released commercially for the first after its huge radio and YouTube success for almost a decade. The new daWorks album Master Of Imperfection has again been delayed in Norway, but the filipino fans are the lucky ones as Universal Records Philippines decided to release the album even before the planned release date. On this album Per re-recorded a live-in-studio acoustic version of the classic Beauty and madness, as well as a new version of Will I recognize?. The albums features also a few brand new tracks, like the opening track I hurt you and the James Taylor cover Fire and rain. Most likely a few more (digital) singles will be taken from this album. The digital download will feature a bonus commentary, available in Norwegian – Norway only – and in English.

 

However Per changed his name as musician into Per Sorensen, subsequently some digital musicstores keep using his own name.

 

At one point there are rumours Per would be playing together with Tears For Fears in the Philippines, Cebu and Manila, in August. Even posters were pressed, but… nothing had been confirmed, at that time… Several weeks later only one concert, the one in Manila, has been confirmed. A few members of Snowbound (Erland Hansen, Kristian Kvaksrud), a couple of local musicians (Neil Baruelo, Maki Ricafort) and a young talented guy from Nesodden (Oskar Holldorff) will form Per's backing band.

 

 

To be continued…