I picked this album up after having heard a few Efterklang songs. I didnt really know what to expect but I have to say, it struck me as an incredible album straight off. It's original and different to anything you'll hear elsewhere, with violin, piano, brass and a chorus of voices working together in such a moving way. Quite a swashbuckling adventure of an album thats bursting with colour, fantasy and personality. Uplifting at times, quiet and peaceful at others. I cant recommend it enough- I'm obsessed! If you like your music with a slice of fantasy and at times, gently poignant I say give this a go.
On a side note, I also really recommend seeing Efterklang live if you get the oppurtunity- an experience not to be missed :)
Danish ensemble Efterklang created quite a buzz earlier this year, issuing the superb "Under Giant Trees" Ep. Intended as a stop-gap release, to whet the appetite for their second album "Parades, tracks such as "Jojo" and "Himmelbjerget" pointed to a band on the cusp of greatness. To release such music, while recording material for an album, is no mean feat and displays an unconceited confidence in the strength of their recording capabilities. Simply put, few bands can afford to discard such wonderful music onto limited-edition releases.
But Efterklang are not just any band, choosing not to do things by half, it seems they have poured every creative ounce of energy into "Parades". Some eighteen months has been spent on this record and it is structured like an elaborate, never-ending maze. Employing no fewer than thirty musicians to augment this already sprawling collective, such attention to detail makes Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible" look like a solo record.
There is a sense of theatre to this releases, it is choc full of cinematic crashes, lavish crescendos and grand arrangements. It certainly parallels the enigmatic nature of debut album "Tripper", but this record's vision imposes its majesty on the listener from the outset.
There is direct focus on vocal arrangements, with male and female harmonies colliding with luxuriant orchestration and subtle electronics. "Caravan" is most noticeable for this; with the female arrangement sounding like one hundred Björk's singing in unison from atop a mountain. "Him Poe Poe" also excels in the vocal department, delicately balancing male whispers around swelling violin and cascading harmonies.
"Polygone" and "Mirador" are curious opening compositions for "Parades", with the former especially veering into abstract territories. Mixing fragmented flute sounds with ghostly vocals and staggered electronic rhythms, the listener is never quite sure just where this track is intending to go. The aptly titled "Mirador", meanwhile, starts beautifully as revolving harpsichord chimes melt into a celebratory fanfare formation.
Efterklang , though, reach their true form around the middle of this album, hitting the listener with the triple-whammy of the stunning "Horseback Tenors", "Frida Found A Friend" and "Maison De Réflexion" . "Frida..." especially captures just what is so wonderful about this band. Starting with mournful brass and trademark Efterklang whispered vocals, the sound is intentionally degraded by hisses of static and electronics that gradually take hold of this piece, before the band career into a segment of distorted orchestration.
Special mention also must be given to the magnificent "Maison De Réflexion" (surely the only song in some time to be written about William Tell). Featuring a bombastic explosion of sound, violins splinter into euphoric chanting and dramatic percussion to create one of this album's many highlights.
Lasting for 50 engrossing minutes, "Parades" is not an album as such, but a full-blown theatrical production. Its press release tells us it features secrets that could take years to unravel and it's true. Such music is simply a gratifying in its originality. Make no mistake, Efterklang's music shares more in common with avant-rockers King Crimson than anything else and even then the similarities are subtle. All that is left is to see is how in God's name they are going to pull this off live.