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.
Danish band Efterklang deliver a box of delightful spells with their new album 'Magic Chairs'. Ten of them in fact.
This is music unafraid to marry complexity with great human warmth. Sounds for the heart and the mind indeed!
Strong melodic ideas expressed through a guitar, drums, keyboards and bass core, augmented by sensitively applied string arrangements.
Casper Clausen's fragile but hugely expressive voice stands at the centre of these fine songs. He understands the value of economy; the natural quality of all his performances never sounds remotely forced or affected.
Things kick of with the spirited strains of 'Modern Drift'. A lovely tune spun out over rolling keyboard arpeggios, spirited percussion, limpid strings and gentle harmonies. Mr Clausen sings like an angel.
'I Was Playing Drums' is another winning composition which brought Arcade Fire to mind on one or two occasions - something to do with the pulsing, anthemic nature of the performance perhaps. The rich multi-instrumental nature of the music of both bands places them in not dissimilar sonic territory.
The handclaps and chanting at the beginning of 'Raincoats' sets the scene for one of the project's most affecting ideas. The high-flying flute contributes a folksy element totally in accord with the pounding pagan percussion.
'Full Moon' immediately found a place in my hairy heart as I am sure you can imagine! A mysteriously moody song brilliantly enhanced by the distant choral commentary.
'The Soft Beating' is a simply beautiful song.
Final track 'Natural Tune' is just what it purports to be. The composition sounds like it was plucked from the air fully formed, covered in silver spider webs and morning dew. A delightful ending to a truly enchanting album.
When I first heard Efterklang, I couldn't believe I hadn't heard of them before - their music is lovely and this album is brilliant. Describing it is hard... the only band I can think of to compare them to is arcade fire but there is something folky going on there too, and different sounds and beats, and there's something experimental about it. This is a great album to wake up to on a sunny morning... or to make you feel like its sunny on a rainy morning, or just to chill out to at anytime. It's a grower too. If in doubt, just listen to the songs on their website/on you tube and get a feel for them - efterklang also have a short film linked to this album that is worth a look.
Having come to this from their most recent album Piramida I was initially a little dispppointed with Magic Chairs but it has grown on me massively - where Piramida reminded me of Portishead, this album is more Arcade Fire but in its own way very different. Great vocals again and great orchestration. This is a wonderful band who have a fantastic ability to mix both catchy and haunting music.
To be honest when I heard the first singles I was a little afraid that Efterklang was taking a sound too "pop" for my taste. But after listening the whole album any fear was gone and replaced with a big smile of pure music satisfaction. I think this their more mature and complete album so far. And if you have listened to their previous albums and EPs you know that this quite a strong statement, but Im very confident of it. Also if you ever have a chance you see them playing Live don't hesitate and go! They are beyond words!
I admit it took me a while and a good few listens to get into this record. However once I started listening closely, it all came into focus. Each track is arranged with rare precision and detail, having only the instruments (including strings and horns) and voices that are needed. And as someone who likes his pop a little more complex than most, this album really hits the spot for me.
Certainly recommended to fans of their 4AD labelmates Grizzly Bear and (their nearest comparison) Anathallo.