Foot of the Mountain

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Foot of the Mountain
Studio album by A-ha
Released 12 June 2009[1]
Recorded January – May 2009
Genre Synthpop[2]
Length 40:45
Label We Love Music 0-06025-2708998-0
Producer A-ha, Steve Osborne, Mark Saunders, Roland Spremberg, Erik Ljunggren
A-ha chronology
Analogue
(2005)
Foot of the Mountain
(2009)
25
(2010)
Singles from Foot of the Mountain
  1. "Foot of the Mountain"
    Released: 5 May 2009
  2. "Nothing Is Keeping You Here"
    Released: 21 September 2009
  3. "Shadowside"
    Released: 21 September 2009

Foot of the Mountain is the ninth and final studio album by the Norwegian pop rock band A-ha. It was released on 19 June 2009 and reached No. 1 on the German Albums Chart[3] and No. 2 on the Norwegian Albums Chart.[4] In its first week in the UK, the album debuted at No. 5, the group's highest chart placing in that country since Stay on These Roads in 1988.[5]

The overall sound of the record marks a return to the synthpop style the band became famous for in the mid-1980s.[2] Keyboardist Magne Furuholmen describes the album thus: "It's an album that incorporates the key elements that first defined the band: soaring vocals, synth hooks, yearning lyrics and melodic melancholia."[2]

Foot of the Mountain was A-ha's last full length album before their split in 2010. However, they did release a further compilation album 25 with their last single "Butterfly, Butterfly (The Last Hurrah)".

Recording process[edit]

In a 2007 interview with the Norwegian TV channel TVTromsø, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy expressed frustration over the time it took to produce new material with the band: "The trouble with us is that we're never in sync. Right now, I'm eager to get going on the new album. I'm telling everybody that the new album is coming out next year and that it's going to be great. But the other two are of course just starting to get into their solo projects again and want to prioritize those for the time being."[6] Getting around to recording the follow-up to Analogue took four years due to the individual projects of the band members. Paul's band Savoy released Savoy Songbook Vol. 1, Magne released his second solo album A Dot of Black in the Blue of Your Bliss and Morten Harket released his second English-language solo album Letter from Egypt. Despite touring quite extensively between 2005–08, the focus of the group was not directed towards recording. The album ended up being recorded in a relatively short period of time (between January - May 2009) with Steve Osborne, Mark Saunders and Roland Spremberg producing.[7]

The recording session took place in several studios around the world. In the US sessions were held at Water Music, Beat 360 and The Alabaster Room in New York City. In Norway recordings were made at Yoga Studio, Alabaster Cottage, Malabar Studio and Rainbow Studio. In the UK the band recorded at Real World Studios, whilst in Germany they used Gaga Studios and Boogie Park Studios.[2]

Inspirations[edit]

The track "Riding the Crest", named by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy as "an electro-blues", is heavily inspired by Arcade Fire and their album Neon Bible.[2] Being the principal songwriter on the album, Waaktaar-Savoy also got inspired by his changing surroundings, dividing his time between New York City and Oslo. "“Shadowside“ feels quite Norwegian in the melody, the chords and the mood. "The Bandstand" reminds me of my 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!"[2] The title track, "Foot of the Mountain" – 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."[2] "Real Meaning" is inspired by Waaktaar-Savoy calling home only to be greeted by his answering machine. The idea behind "Start the Simulator" was to make a heartfelt song using technical language: "The basic idea 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."[2] The latter should probably be "ejecta blanket."

Magne's solo work has been sampled extensively, with the song "Foot of the Mountain" originally appeared as a solo track, on Magne's last solo album and two tracks from the A-ha album, have borrowed parts from Magne's album.

Artwork[edit]

The album's artwork is designed by Martin Kvamme, who has worked with A-ha on previous occasions, both as a band and on solo projects. Stian Andersen, Guy Berryman, Istockphoto and Helge Kvamme supplied photographs for the inner sleeve.[2] Martin Kvamme said the following about the inspiration behind the cover art: "In this case the title helped quite a lot. I know that this is a somehow poetic quote and that they are not necessarily talking about a mountain, but we wanted something majestic and simple. That's also why we made it quite abstract. It's a picture of the mountain Kyrkja (the church) in Jotunheimen, Norway. Inside we have more images of Norwegian nature (in a collage style). But in general I guess the inspiration comes from the overall idea (production and songwriting/lyrics), rather than the album title."[8]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
The Guardian 3/5 stars[9]
The Observer 3/5 stars[10]
Times Online 4/5 stars[11]
Planet Sound 8/10 stars[12]

The Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang gave the album 4 out of 6 stars, calling the band: "Coldplay's half-potent uncles."[13] Dagbladet also gave it 4 out of 6, stating: "This is one of A-ha's best records, but it could have been a classic."[14] Aftenposten was also very positive, giving it 4 out of 6, whilst Dagsavisen had slight reservations giving it 3 out of 6.[15][16] Nettavisen also gave it 3 out of 6.[17] Swedish newspaper Norra Västerbotten gave the album a glowing review and the mark 4 out of 5 stating that the album contained: "Melodic synthpop in the vein of The Killers."[18] Göteborgs-Posten gave the album 4 out of 6, calling the album: "A late peak in the bands career, perfectly placed between the soundscapes of Keane, Coldplay and Depeche Mode."[19] Östgöta Correspondenten gave a favourable review stating: "It is clear to see where Coldplay get their inspiration from."[20] Kristianstadsbladet were less favorable, stating that the album was a: "Sleeping pill."[21] The album Foot of the Mountain reached platinum status in Russia[22] and in January 2010, it was certified platinum in Germany.[23] In February it reached silver status in the UK.

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "The Bandstand"   Paul Waaktaar-Savoy Magne Furuholmen, Waaktaar-Savoy 4:03
2. "Riding the Crest"   Waaktaar-Savoy Furuholmen, Waaktaar-Savoy 4:18
3. "What There Is"   Waaktaar-Savoy Furuholmen, Waaktaar-Savoy 3:46
4. "Foot of the Mountain"   Furuholmen, Waaktaar-Savoy Furuholmen, Waaktaar-Savoy, Martin Terefe 3:59
5. "Real Meaning"   Waaktaar-Savoy Furuholmen, Waaktaar-Savoy 3:42
6. "Shadowside"   Waaktaar-Savoy Waaktaar-Savoy 4:57
7. "Nothing Is Keeping You Here"   Waaktaar-Savoy Waaktaar-Savoy 3:20
8. "Mother Nature Goes To Heaven"   Waaktaar-Savoy Waaktaar-Savoy 4:11
9. "Sunny Mystery"   Furuholmen Furuholmen 3:32
10. "Start the Simulator"   Waaktaar-Savoy Waaktaar-Savoy 5:12

Credits and personnel[edit]

Additional musicians
  • Steve Osborne, Roland Spremberg, Chris Papendieck, Albert Bjerglund - guitars
  • Erik Ljunggren, Roland Spremberg, Chris Papendieck - keyboards
  • Steve Osborne, Roland Spremberg - bass
  • Karl Oluf Wennerberg, Jens Carstens, James Frazee - drums
  • André Orvik, Harald Aadland, Vegard Johnsen, Eileen Siegel, Jørn Halbakken, Alyson Read, Hans Mortem Stensland, Øyvind Fossheim, Bogumila Dowlasz-Wojcikowska, Dorthe Dreier, Stig Ove Ose, Ida Bryhn, Hans Josef Groh, Cecilia Götestam, Johannes Martens - strings

Release history[edit]

Region Date
Germany 12 June 2009
Poland
Norway 15 June 2009
Netherlands 19 June 2009
Austria
Switzerland
UK 27 July 2009
Canada 18 August 2009
Brazil 27 October 2009
Japan 4 November 2009
Argentina 18 February 2010[25]

Chart positions[edit]

  • No. 1 – Germany
  • No. 1 – Luxembourg
  • No. 2 – Norway
  • No. 3 – Russia
  • No. 5 – France
  • No. 5 – UK
  • No. 8 – Europe
  • No. 11 – Austria
  • No. 12 – Switzerland
  • No. 17 – Poland
  • No. 31 – World
  • No. 40 – Czech Rep
  • No. 45 – Sweden
  • No. 72 – Ireland
  • No. 83 – Netherlands
  • No. 85 – Italy
  • No. 134 – Japan

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2009) Rank
German Albums Chart[26] 22

Certifications[edit]

Country Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Sales
Germany Platinum[27] 200,000
Russia Platinum 20,000
France Platinum 100,000
Norway Platinum 45,000
U.K. Silver 65,000

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.amazon.de/Foot-Mountain--Ha/dp/B002A9OJ0Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1380765379&sr=1-1&keywords=foot+of+the+mountain
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i [1][dead link]
  3. ^ "A-ha til topps i Tyskland – kultur". Dagbladet.no. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "A-ha – VG-lista. Offisielle hitlister fra og med 1958". Lista.vg.no. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "A-ha rett inn på 5. plass – kultur". Dagbladet.no. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "A-ha – interview 2007 – Nordlys (in norwegian)". YouTube. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "A-ha – Foot Of The Mountain (File) at Discogs". Discogs.com. 4 May 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  8. ^ [2][dead link]
  9. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (24 July 2009). "A-ha: Foot of the Mountain". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 August 2009. 
  10. ^ "Pop review: A-ha, Foot of the Mountain". The Observer (London). 12 July 2009. Retrieved 22 October 2009. 
  11. ^ Paphides, Pete (17 July 2009). "Review: A-ha/Foot Of The Mountain". The Times (London). Retrieved 24 July 2009. 
  12. ^ Earls, John. "Review: A-ha/Foot Of The Mountain". Teletext. Retrieved 22 July 2009. 
  13. ^ "A-ha: "Foot Of The Mountain" – VG Nett om A-ha". Vg.no. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  14. ^ "Framover i alle retninger – kultur". Dagbladet.no. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  15. ^ Cecilie Asker Publisert: 09.06.09 08:24 Oppdatert: 27 October 2009. "Høydepunktene mangler – Oslo – Foot of the Mountain aha A-ha Oslopuls.no". Oslopuls.aftenposten.no. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "Gamle synther blekner : Dagsavisen". Dagsavisen.no. 9 June 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "TjA-ha – Nettavisen". Side2.no. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  18. ^ "A-ha – Norran". Norran.se. 17 June 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  19. ^ [3][dead link]
  20. ^ "Östergötlands största nyhetssajt". Corren.se. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  21. ^ "A-ha: Foot of the mountain – Skivrecensioner – Kristianstadsbladet – Nyheter dygnet runt". Kristianstadsbladet.se. 16 June 2009. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  22. ^ Срок регистрации домена закончился
  23. ^ "MusikWoche | News | Universal und MM Merchandising Media veredeln A-ha mit Platin". Mediabiz.de. 25 January 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  24. ^ http://www.discogs.com/a-ha-Foot-Of-The-Mountain/release/2379035
  25. ^ "A-ha – Foot Of The Mountain". Musimundo.com. 18 February 2010. Retrieved 12 January 2012. 
  26. ^ :: MTV | Album Jahrescharts 2009 | charts[dead link]
  27. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Foot of the Mountain')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 28 January 2010. 

External links[edit]