FRANZ FERDINAND (UK)
Sunday 26.8.2018 @ Allas Sea Pool, Helsinki
Forget everything you think you know about Franz Ferdinand.
Always Ascendingis nothing short of a rebirth. Thealbum’s ten songs are a
triumphant recasting of one of our favourite groups, bursting with fresh ideas
andvigorous sonic experimentation.
“We wanted this to sound like nothing we made before,” said
the band and after listening to the first moments of the title track it’s
obvious that’s what they’ve accomplished.
There have been substitutions, but the team isplaying
stronger than ever.In case you missed the announcement last year, Nick McCarthy
(guitar) left to raisehis familyandJulian Corrie, a much-loved figure in the
Glasgow music scene, joinedcore members Alex Kapranos, Bob Hardy and Paul
With reclusive producer Philippe Zdar (Cassius,
Phoenix,Beastie Boys), FF have taken a knife to their old canvas, creating an
album that is so foreign in its familiarity it could only be current.
“Philippe is someone we’d wanted to work withfor a long
time.” said Alex “Last time we spoke, he was recording the Beastie Boys. I
asked Laurence (Bell, Domino boss) and Cerne (Cannning, manager/svengali) to
put us in touch and they said ‘Oh, he’s a bit of an enigma. No-one can
tracehim. Maybe he’sin Ibiza. Maybe Paris. We don’t know.’ Then I remembered I still
had his number, so I texted him and said ‘I’ve always thought we could make a
truly great LP together’ and he replied straightback and said ‘Yes! Let’s do
“We loved working with Philippe. He understands that what is
essential is the emotion: the emotion that inspired the song and the emotion
that the song inspires in you on hearingit. It’s all that matters. Everything
comes from that: thesound, performance, tempo, instrumentation, how far you
stand from the mic... everything.
”The LP was mixed at Philippe’s Motorbass studio in Paris,
recorded in a couple of weeks at RAK and written over the preceding year
somewhere in thewest of Scotland.
“We all lived in the one place together. Us and the dog.
It’s remote and that’s what we needed. We weren’t just writing an LP. We were
creating a band. A sound. A universe. We started from zero: no expectations. It
was liberating. Fromzero,we created thisnew universe to inhabit: nebulous at
first, gradually taking form, until it felt like it had always existed.”
Other characters appear in this story. Dino Bardot (the
greatest rockstar Glasgow ever produced)has joined the line-up since they
started touring again and Sam Potter, lateof Late Of The Pier, hung out with
the band in the early stages of the LP.
“Sam’s an inspiring guy. We had great conversations. He
knows how to take an idea and break it so you can see the better idea hidden
“We talked about the purity and naivety our earliest
psychedelicexperiences: when you imagined what drugs might do to your mind,
before there was an opportunityto let them. How the imagined experience is way
more powerfulthan anything actually triggered by a drugcould be. Wouldn’t it be
glorious to make music that made you feel like that?
”When asked what influences shaped the record, Hardy says “I
don’t think we need to mention any,” while Thomson exclaims“Can't really think
of any other than Tarka Daal, McEwans Export and K****ine...might not want to
mention those though.” Kapranos does mentionre-discovering Greek composer
Yiannis Markopoulos’s interpretations of Cretan music on the Rizitika LP:
“Repetitive, trance-inducing, dynamic: my first
extra-sensory experiences were from listeningto this, before I could walk.”
“Listening to it again, I realized how it was always there.
I don’t meanjust in my period of experience, but for millennia. It’sancient
musicyou can trace back to the earliest ofhuman experiences. We have always
done this, but there is always a new way of making it. Markopoulos made it new
in 1971. We made it new in 2017. The effect has always been the same. We are
looking for something that allows us to ascend. To become lighter than our
physical presence. To ascend from the emotion of every day. To ascend from what
we understand. To ascend and know why we are ascending. To not know why we want
to ascend. To be always ascending.
”Armed with this musical mission, the band put purpose to
paper. Conceiving a songbook full of tightly scripted screeds and musical
paradoxes, brought to vivid life through a confluence of the band’s gift for
propulsive, melody-driven musicality and Zdar’s production dexterity.
“So many nights, I couldn't sleep because there were too
many ideas flooding each other. Kapranos recalls“I felt like a decapitated
gorgon, growing two heads where there had been one. That's why it was so great
to work with Julian, Philippe and Sam. Each an extra head to the gorgon. An
extra mind. An extra set of snakes spitting venom.
”These ambitious visions can be heard throughout Always
Ascending:from the title track’s Penrose Stairs aural illusionconstantly rising
chord progression,to the “TrapSabbathvia Slackers” of 'Huck and Jim'; the
barely-glimpsed backstory that could have been froma William Trevorstoryin
‘Lois Lane’, to the Tehching Hsieh-inspired 'Paper Cages', the five to the
floor odd-count dance beat of ‘Lazy Boy’, to the heartbreaking ‘Slow Don’t Kill
For all its philosophical conceits, however, it is a
visceral experience. It’s intended to hit you in the heart before the brain.
These are the sounds of the Parisian night, the exhilaration of an Italian car racing
down the autobahn; a feeling of euphoria so pure it could only exist on a
knife’s edge, occasionally gliding into euphoric heartcreak.
this record to sound like no other you’ve heard, never mind any other Franz
Ferdinand record. Here it is. Stick it on. Think “What the fuck is that... I