Review: Efterklang – Piramida
Published on October 2nd, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
The Copenhagen adventurers are now a mere trio, and this downsizing has on their fourth album Piramida manifested itself as a more thorough exploration of the electronic elements which circled 2010 predecessor Magic Chairs, a suitably magical LP which spawned the beautiful An Island film with director Vincent Moon.
Opener “Hollow Mountain” is a big, reverby meditation aligned to the sound of ’80s pop music being fed through a jungle blender – yes, a jungle blender – and it proceeds to supplement this with a thrilling application of staccato ’70s soul strings and backing oohs over its typically busy, involved rhythm section, which this time is propelled along on some alien-funk groove in contrast to the pervading splendour of Magic Chairs. That’s a meandering sentence, alright, but Efterklang do like to lead us into the odd enchanted forest here and there.
By the time “Apples” comes about it has become clear that this is going to be a rather different proposition to Efterklang records of the past, although the dark waves of brassy synth weave a different kind of magic; throw in Casper Clausen’s new-found suave baritone and it’s excellent stuff, his commanding yet understated vocal wielding a melodic simplicity over the shuffly strut that paves the way wonderfully for the arching melody on the line “all kinds of ways to your garden” (at least that’s what it sounds to us like he’s singing) to at once steal the show and bore its way into the ol’ cerebral cortex. So far, so good.
“Sedna” comes over all Sigur Ros meets Talk Talk with its tender falsetto, fluttery synth, mournful ohs and ghostly swirls of echo-laden fast-picking, while the slyly glitchy electronic pulse and electric piano tinkles of “Told to Be Fine” could almost have come straight off Liars’ recent WIXIW album, following Magic Chairs standout “Raincoats” as a compelling example of the subtle time signature trickery that Efterklang somehow make conducive to luxurious soundscapery. For this reason it can be easy to overlook, and that’s part of its genius.
The suitably ghostly “The Ghost” presents cosmic jungle-funk aided and abetted by marimba-like sounds, before taking on a big, brass horizon the likes of which these guys let fly so expertly, while the also-aptly-titled “Black Summer” oversees a convergence of darkness and light around Clausen’s assured croon, menacing stabs of horns and soaring backing vocals.
“Dreams Today” is the most reconcilably Efterklang-y thing so far with its fast, chiming monotone piano, twinkly music box and crumply march of a rhythm; “Between the Walls” places a luxuriously beaming brass section atop more juddery, laterally-conceived beatery with magnificently graceful/gracefully magnificent results; and, finally, “Monument” provides a pretty neat encapsulation of what’s gone before, with extra added flute, otherworldly vocal phasing, and what sounds a bit like a wobble board in the rhythm section. (Thinking on, Rolf Harris would make for a splendid fourth band member.)
Darker and more brooding than Magic Chairs, yet arguably less complex than their first two full-lengths (2004’s Tripper and 2007’s Parades), Piramida finds Efterklang reinventing themselves perhaps out of personnel-related necessity; that they’ve managed to do so this successfully is yet further cause to treasure them.
Rocksucker says: Four Quails out of Five!
Piramida is out now on 4AD. For more information, please visit efterklang.net