Album Review: Efterklang Piramida
Piramida is a deserted mining town on the Svalbard peninsula in the Arctic Circle. It’s a place populated by more polar bears than humans and bears the name of Efterklang’s fourth studio album. Like a hipper version of Captain Scott’s Antarctic expedition, the Danish trio travelled to this frozen wasteland to capture sound recordings from a different world. This is a band at the fore front of musical innovation. You can’t exactly see Cheryl Cole packing up her stilettos for a musical research trip to the arctic, though I’m sure the results of such a thing would be hilarious. What’s so impressive about Piramida is that the music isn’t isolating or too abstract. Efterklang bring the harsh and alien sounds of the arctic and weave together a record that’s feels contemporary and approachable.
Four albums down the line and Efterklang have established themselves as one of the finest contemporary bands around today. They map out the complexities of the human soul and the natural world in lush electronic soundscapes, as Casper Clausen’s vocals soar over in smooth tones. Performing as a three piece since the departure of fourth member Thomas Husmer, they are often joined by an eclectic bunch of musicians for live shows, including minimalist American singer/songwriter Peter Broderick.
On Piramida Efterklang shed some musical skin, as the pop sounds of previous album Magic Chairs are tuned down and replaced with the more avant-garde. This isn’t to suggest that there aren’t great tunes to be found because there are, Black Summer for example is an electro-pop stunner. it’s just that they’re not as readily accessible as they were on previous records. Opening track Hollow Mountain sets the scene wonderfully, as hushed voices and staggeringly beautiful soundscapes are augmented by Casper’s idiosyncratic vocals, the poetic lyrics speaking of distant, lonely lands.
The music on Piramida is graceful and spellbinding. Efterklang wrap their lyrical musings in layers of electronic loveliness: recordings from the baron arctic town help to elevate this album to that of classic status. A few listens in and you realise you’re hearing the sound of a band who know exactly who they are and exactly what kind of music they want to make: the result is astonishing.
Listening to Piramida is a journey, one of transformation and transportation, one you won’t regret taking. It’s an album as complex and restless as the sea.