Fra Lippo Lippi The Early Years: In Silence and Small Mercies

[Rune Arkiv; 2003]

Rating: 4.5/5

Styles: post punk, new wave, no wave
Others: New Order, Joy Division, The Cure, Talk Talk, The Wake


One of the most exciting things about being a music lover is finding an incredible album (and group) you never knew existed. The fact that Fra Lippo Lippi is one of these bands, and The Early Years, is one of these albums, makes me wonder just exactly how many bands I’ve missed over my time. Certainly no one can listen to everything, and by no means, does any one person know of all the great bands in existence. But, to my surprise, I was pleasantly taken aback when I came across this promo compilation for Fra Lippo Lippi’s first two albums, In Silence and Small Mercies. Since I don’t have much history on the band, this will be a review where the music will mostly have to speak for itself.

The knowledge I do have, however, is that Fra Lippo Lippi was born as a duo in Norway around 1978 by Rune Grammofon founder, Rune Kristofferson; later becoming a trio with the addition of vocalist Per Øystein Sørensen. As time passed, Fra Lippo Lippi slowly began to acquire many more musicians and began working in an ensemble type environment. In 1998, Rune started releasing experimental music on his very own label called Rune Grammofon, where he has highlighted many experimental Norwegian acts such as Arne Nordheim, Supersilent, and Alog.  

Rewind twenty years to Rune’s initial touch with fame. Fra Lippo Lippi’s sophisticated new wave sound brings easy comparisons to New Order and Joy Division, but also contains elements of contemporary jazz somewhat familiar to Talk Talk. The gorgeous vibe of these two albums is that of sophistication and autumnal landscapes. At the halfway point of this disc, you can see a drastic change in the overall tone of the music. Where the first eight tracks (being their second album) are more stylish and manicured, the second eight tracks (their first) are more impetuous and driving. The song “A Moment Like This” is sung by Rune himself, and would be damn near impossible not to compare him to Ian Curtis. 

Of the two albums compiled here, though, In Silence is probably the more interesting. It has a more unrefined sound and should have any fan of Joy Division wishing they’d heard of this band sooner. If I were to review Closer or Unknown Pleasures today, they’d obviously receive 5/5.  Therefore, since Fra Lippo Lippi is so strangely similar, and The Early Years is almost like having a new Joy Division/New Order album, I’d be hard pressed to give it a anything less than a near perfect score. Find out for yourself what you’ve missed out on for the past twenty years. Wow!

1. Some Things Never Change
2. A Small Mercy
3. Barrier
4. Sense of Doubt
5. The Treasure
6. Slow Sway
7. Now and Forever
8. French Painter Dead
9. Out of the Ruins
10. A Moment Like This
11. In Silence
12. Recession
13. The Inside Veil
14. I Know
15. Quiet
16. Lost
17. In A Little Room
18. An Idea

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