ABBA’s new groove: The Swedish ensemble is back with a revolutionary concert and a brand new album

Music ABBA concertA view of a screen at the ABBA Voyage event at Grona Lund, in Stockholm, Sweden, Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. ABBA is releasing its first new music in four decades, along with a concert performance that will see the “Dancing Queen” quartet going entirely digital. The forthcoming album “Voyage,” to be released Nov. 5, is a follow-up to 1981?s “The Visitors,” which until now had been the swan song of the Swedish supergroup. And a virtual version of the band will begin a series of concerts in London May 27.   (Fredrik Persson/TT News Agency via AP)

Almost 40 years after their breakup, ABBA is back together. The latest leg of the Swedish band’s legendary journey will see them release ten freshly recorded songs. Slated for release this August, ABBA’s new album is fittingly entitled “Voyage.”

“It sounds just like it always has,” said songwriter Benny Andersson.

Two singles are already out; you can listen to I Still Have Faith in You and Don’t Shut Me Down on Spotify.

“It’s been a while”

The last time ABBA – one of the world’s most successful pop groups ever – released new music was in 1982, when their single Under Attack came out.

“It’s been a while since we made music together. Almost 40 years, in fact. We took a break in the spring of 1982, and now we have decided that it is time to end it,” proclaimed the group in a message sent out via their record company on Thursday.

“To all of you who have patiently followed us in one way or another during these decades: Thank you for waiting. It is time for a new voyage to begin,” they said.

The story behind the new album’s title, Voyage? The quartet says it illustrates that they are sailing in unknown waters – but the group is sure to delight.

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman CEO of Universal Music Group, stated, “From the very beginning of my career, and having had the privilege to work with them directly for many years since, it’s been a tremendous joy to be surrounded by ABBA and their music. Their boundless creativity and timeless melodies makes us want to partner with them on everything they do because we know it will be simply great.”

Meet the Abbatars

ABBA’s comeback plan includes digital concerts, during which the group will perform the music as hologram versions of themselves – dubbed “abbatars.”

“With the help of our younger selves, we will travel into the future. It’s not easy to explain, and it has not been done before,” wrote ABBA in the message conveyed by Universal Music.

Behind the Abbatars’ design is Industrial Light & Magic, the visual effects company of Star Wars mastermind George Lucas, wrote BBC. This is the company’s first foray into music.

Over 850 people worked to recreate the members of ABBA as they were in their younger days, using motion technology to scan the four as they sang. As part of the preparation, the group performed their songs on stage in front of 160 cameras, over a period of five weeks.

ABBA music sweden
Abbatars in the making. Photo: Baillie Walsh / Universal Music / NTB

“So when you see the show, know that these not four people pretending to be ABBA; it is actually them,” said producer Ludvig Andersson.

Back in April 2018, it first became known that ABBA planned to release new music. At the time, their manager confirmed that there would be two new songs coming out. Then, in May, it was announced that the number would probably be expanded to five. But yesterday, it was uncertain whether the final toll would be two songs, five songs, or an entire album.

ABBA have enjoyed themselves

Andersson says it is difficult to highlight what has been the best thing about the reunion – the creative process of making a concert together, or the quartet finally being back in the studio side by side.

“I think hearing Frida and Agnetha sing together again is difficult to top,” he wrote.

All four original members are participating in the reunion: Agnetha Fältskog (71), Björn Ulvaeus (76), Benny Andersson (74), and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (75).

“When we got together in the studio, I had no idea what to expect. But Benny’s studio was such a friendly and safe environment. Before I knew it, I was really enjoying myself. I can hardly believe that the moment has finally come for us to share this with the outside world,” said Fältskog.

Recorded together at Benny’s studio Riksmixningsverket in Stockholm, Voyage will be released worldwide on November 5 by Universal.

Revolutionary new concerts

ABBA’s new concerts will kick off next year.

“I watched ABBA win the Eurovision song contest in 1974, and never did I imagine that 47 years later I would be with them on this extraordinary voyage. Life is weird and wonderful sometimes,” said Director Baillie Walsh.

Many years later, Agnetha, Björn, Benny, and Anni-Frid will perform both digitally and live with a band of ten members.

The show, featuring ABBA’s anticipated new album, starts in London on May 27, 2022.

As for the venue? It’ll be the exclusive ABBA Arena, a state-of-the-art 3,000-capacity arena located at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

Pre-registration for tickets opens at 6 PM tonight on Tickets will be available from 10 AM on Sunday, September 5, for fans who have pre-ordered the album from the official ABBA store, and from 10 AM on Monday, September 6th, for those who have pre-registered. General ticket sales will commence at 10 AM on Tuesday, September 7.

The ABBA Voyage concert is made possible with the help of Producer Svana Gisla (David Bowie Blackstar / Lazarus, Beyoncé and Jay Z for HBO, Springsteen and I), Producer Ludvig Andersson (And Then We Danced, Yung Lean – “In My Head,” Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again), Director Baillie Walsh (Flashbacks of a Fool, Being James Bond, Springsteen and I), Co-Executive Producer Johan Renck (Spaceman, David Bowie Blackstar / Lazarus, Chernobyl) and Choreographer Wayne McGregor CBE (The Royal Ballet, Company Wayne McGregor, Paris Opera Ballet). The music video for I Still Have Faith In You has been directed by Shynola.

“Imagine: growing up in the North of England in the 70’s and learning to ballroom, Latin and disco dance to the incredible songs of ABBA. I was eight, and I was totally transported. Fast forward to 2020, being in Sweden and dancing with ABBA – in real life! I was about to be 50, and I was totally transported again. That is the magic of ABBA.

“We have shared many creative and joyful adventures with a bold collaborative team to make the impossible possible for ABBA Voyage: technological wizardry, state-of-the-art immersion, and entertainment innovation. And still at its searing heart we simply have new songs, new moves, classic songs, classic moves: ABBA is DANCE and always will be. See you on the dancefloor,” said choreographer Wayne McGregor.

Source: ©️ NTB Scanpix / #NorwayTodayTravel

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