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Another Scandinavian Gem,
This review is from: Magic Chairs (Audio CD)
Efterklang have been around for some considerable time without making any significant dent on the British music buying consciousness. Perhaps there's just too much music coming out of these countries for us to keep up with. Efterklang have received something of a lift by landing on 4AD for their third album "Magic Chairs".
It's an interesting album whose chief features come in the form of its rather dense layers of instruments and vocals coupled with a nice sense of rhythmic counterpoint. There is quite a lot to the sound here. Guitars, pianos, precussion, layers of vocal harmony, even strings curl around the songs to produce some very beautiful music. This cocktail should lead you to conclude this is a rather heavy sound but the actuality is the complete opposite. There is a lightness to the music which shuffles and ripples along creating a very beautiful whole.
This is another example of the prevailing trend for music which seems to take as much of its cue from the classical. A cursory listen to "I Was Playing Drums" or "Modern Drift" could lead you to conclude that these could well have found a home on Heartland by Owen Pallet. Yet comparisons of this type detract from this being more of a rock than a clssical album. The rest of the album follows a more conventional rock format (although rock is a rather strong word to describe it). "The Soft Beating" could, in the hands of any one of a number of Efterklang's contemporaries have been a regulation indie song.
The likes of "Scandinavian Love", "Mirror, Mirror", "Raincoats" and "The Soft Beating" illustrate that this is a band looking to think outside the indie rock box. Where the likes of Pallet, The Arcade Fire, even Elbow (who come to mind on "Mirror, Mirror") take the same ingredients and produce something expansive and dense or rich and anthemic Efterklang never rise to dizzying heights. This is an album curiously lacking in bombast. Even when they resort to something close to a full choir on "Full Moon" they never tumble musically over the top. Perhaps this is due to Casper Cluasen's soft sounding voice, which has a strength which whilst not immediately apparent, underpins much of this album. Everything does seem slightly reigned in producing an album which rewards repeated plays.
I've not heard their previous music and am not going to try and make any bold comparisons. This is an album which doesn't really need them. A very fine example of how to flesh out the standard indie sound without resorting to any histrionics. A richly rewarding set of songs that deserve as wider audience as they can muster.