Fra Lippo Lippi - In Silence LP
Fra Lippo Lippi's debut album is an outlier in the band's discography. In the earliest incarnation of 1981, the Norwegian band was a trio featuring Rune Kristoffersen (guitars / bass) Per Oystein Sorensen (vocals), and Morten Sjoberg (drums), with all taking turns on keyboards. Kristoffersen's presence is noteworthy as he later founded the avant-jazz / avant-rock label Rune Grammofon in 1998, publishing work from Supersilent, Motorpsycho and Biosphere. By the mid '80s, the band's line-up changed and their sound shifted towards a soft-pop of electronic ballads that brought them some commercial success with albums on Virgin and EMI. In Silence is most definitely not of that sound. Inspired by Joy Division and paralleling like-minded acts such as Section 25, Siglo XX and Second Layer, Fra Lippo Lippi shaped their sound through a post-punk gloom. The songs keep a stately, if tear-stained pace just a tick above a funereal dirge. The chimed guitars recall Robert Smith's minor-chord strum on The Cure's Faith and Seventeen Seconds with the rhythm section darkly lumbering in time with the b-side to Unknown Pleasures. In keeping true to the sound of Martin Hannett's productions, Fra Lippo Lippi pushed the monotone vocals and moody ambient wash to the back in the mix, bathing these droning, gloomy elements with a tear-stained reverberation. It makes for an atmospherically bleak album, less claustrophobic and more somber. Those who found their mid '80s work too saccharine will have much more to sink their teeth into on In Silence.