Giving new wave music a human touch
- Jerry Donato () - May 5, 2006 - 12:00am
Fra Lippo Lippi is not a name of a fraternity. It’s an ’80s band/duo whose name was derived from Robert Browning’s poem Fra Lippo Lippi. The group used to be composed of Per Sorensen and Rune Kristofferson.

For the benefit of the younger generation, Fra Lippo Lippi is like the late ’90s’ Ant & Dec – who is also a duo. In terms of music and lyricism, however, Fra Lippo Lippi resembles the Lighthouse Family.

Whether the word fra in the group’s name means brotherhood or not, Rune’s lyrical poetry and Per’s soothing vocals created classics like Beauty and Madness, Everytime I See You, Light and Shade and Angel. These songs bring back memories and evoke strong emotions in the listener. One thing is for sure: Fra Lippo Lippi’s music will last forever.

Giving us that kind of sound again is Fra Lippo Lippi’s other half Per, who is in Manila for his concert series entitled Fra Lippo Lippi Featuring Per Sorensen Philippine Tour on May 13, 8 p.m. at the Araneta Coliseum, May 15 at the Waterfront Cebu Hotel, May 17 at the Central Bank Auditorium in Davao City and May 20 at the Atrium of LimketKai Mall in Cagayan de Oro.

This visit is Per’s fourth. The first time was way back in 1988 when he and Rune performed at the ULTRA/Philsports and the last was in 2000 also in a concert at the Big Dome.

"I didn’t evolve that much, because I’ve been writing (a lot of) songs for the band," replies Per when asked how he and his music have changed through the years. The question of the moment, however, is: Why did he and Rune split up years ago, and at the height of their career at that?

Per says the inevitable started in the early ’90s when they had problems with their recording company. They decided to take a break to work things out. After that much-needed breather, they came back to re-record their songs in the UK and released them in an album. After that, "it was over," as Per puts it.

Nothing is permanent but change. Per adds that Rune wanted to put up his own label so he never returned to recording.

Rune was the band’s lead vocalist in the beginning. But when Per joined the group, he was tapped to sing most of their popular songs which Pinoy fans know by heart.

It was Per’s voice that put Fra Lippo Lippi’s songs in the ’80s Billboard charts.

"I love writing and performing," says Per. This was what he did when Rune left the band in 1995.

"I write songs for myself and for other artists as I always do," relates Per. "But I prefer to sing my songs. I can give something to a song another artist can’t."

This sort of a "standard belief" speaks a lot about the kind of artist Per is.

"I’m a pop composer-songwriter," Per describes his style. "I will not try to be the hippest guy in town. Rock doesn’t suit me. I don’t like artists who don’t express themselves."

Per is very critical of pretty female and male performers with great voices, those who close their eyes while playing the guitar. He thinks there’s something lacking in these artists. Whether it’s their not-so-moving performance or the noise-driven music, Per, just like any of us, has the prerogative to pass judgment on other artists.

He has his favorites, though. Among today’s young artists, Joss Stone tops Per’s list. He says Joss has a strong expression in her songs. By just listening to her, one can feel and get to know her as a person. People are touched.

Per also admires the sound of Depeche Mode who he thinks is getting better and better.

Asked what he can say about the reality talent searches on TV like American Idol, Per answers, "They are not for youngsters who want to work in the music business. Once you become an idol, it’s finished. You start from the top and there’s one way to go but down."

If participants of these contests undergo auditions and try-outs, Per says it will do them good. This way they will feel how it is to be a struggling artist and experience life at the bottom of the career ladder.

Fra Lippo Lippi is known for its well-written songs and music. Per says he wrote 70 percent of the group’s music while Rune took charge of all the lyrics.

The songs’ poetic style, says Per, tells a lot about his partner’s means of self-expression. Rune is a big fan of painting and poetry. It is not surprising therefore, why songs like Angel, Light and Shade and Beauty and Madness are rich in figurative language. Besides, Rune, who named the band, studied English Literature.

As musician, Per says, "I can just play Rune’s song after it’s written. Some songs just come to you (and you can give instant music to them.) Among our songs, Beauty and Madness and Light and Shade are the ones I’m most proud of."

"Music is as diverse as society," observes Per. "It’s everything to me. I think Fra Lippo Lippi’s contribution to ’80s music is that we gave new wave music a human touch."

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with