Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Efterklang Press Roundup

Unfortunately the release of Efterklang's new album, Parades, has once again been moved. The new street date is November 13th. Despite the woes n' boos of delay the press continues to roll in - Pitchfork, Stylus, Uncut, Mojo, Drowned In Sound, just to name a few. Here are a few highlights:

Online Article

Video: Efterklang: "Mirador"
Man, there are a lot of animated videos coming out right now. Just in the last few days we've seen clips from José González, Holy Fuck, Chromeo, and Prefuse 73. Add to the list this clip from Denmark's Efterklang, for "Mirador", from their new album Parades. The song, widescreen and dramatic, featuring massed voices singing in unison along with horns and marching drums, is in line with previous offerings from the Danish collective. The video, directed by Hvass & Hannibal & UFEX, follows a half-human/half-bird character on assorted adventures. It looks a little like a design for a very cool and rather beautiful video game. I was getting Dig Dug flashbacks at the end there.

Stylus Review



The Leaf Label
A- Online Review The only thing that fits into a pigeonhole is a pigeon," my colleague told me last week. I'm not really sure what that means, but if it means that labels aren't always helpful in describing things such as music, then he was right. Efterklang are post-rock, so they say. The simple definition of post-rock, courtesy of Wikipedia and Simon Reynolds, is "using rock instrumentation for non-rock purposes." That definition works fine for Slint and Mogwai and Godspeed and the like, but "rock instrumentation" must surely include guitars, and there's barely a hint of guitar on Parades—well, there is a little acoustic at the end, but that might even be a banjo. (Rock was not built on the power of the banjo.) Besides, any guitars that are here are swamped by the more prominent use of about four hundred other instruments, various wind or stringed-objects, and just as many unidentifiable creations of robot, machine, or computer. Do violins and wind chimes and oboes and mechanical seagulls count as rock instrumentation? So let's leave labels aside just now and just focus on the music. Parades is an exquisite sounding record, with so much intricate sonic detail that it demands a good pair of headphones. Initially I wondered whether it might suffer from the same problem as Björk's Volta—being beautifully rich in sound, but lacking in things like melody. Luckily, it's a real grower and, after a while, the post-rock tag actually does make some kind of sense. Parades has the complex time-signatures and shifting movements of Slint; it has the genuine dynamic force of moving from really quiet to really loud, like Mogwai; it has the building melodrama of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It just doesn't have the guitars. Instead, listen to the voices in your headphones. Efterklang use the hushed lead vocals of Thomas Sjöberg or Linda Drejer Bonde, sometimes together, as well as all-male and all-female choruses, and the grand orchestration of Sigur Ros. Of all the memorable moments on the album—and it is an album of moments, rather than tunes—one of the most affecting is on "Blowing Lungs Like Bubbles." Over shuffling brushes, a morose accordion, and a quivering violin, a whispered lead vocal is balanced by an unbearably sad, gentle wail by another singer who seems to be on the verge of a breakdown. It doesn't last long, thankfully, because it's heartbreaking. Although Sjöberg and Bonde do appear to be singing in English, it's never clear enough to decipher the story behind each song. More often, the voices are used like another instrument, as in the intro to "Illuminant" where multiple choruses of aahing and yawning swell together into a massive, rumbling wave before giving way to quietly tinkling piano and the promise of another swell. Frequently I imagine these quiet periods are played by small animals, like mice, let loose over the piano top. Similarly, "Horseback Tenors" begins with little birds hopping all over the strings. Then the chorus joins in and the reclaimed string section builds into an epic mid-section, which becomes even more epic when the brass players awaken and a marching beat arrives, melding everything into a joyous, striding finale. Except it's not a finale because it fades and disintegrates and is parachuted back to earth by a foghorn bassline. This is what saves Parades from being a predictable journey where every rise and fall is anticipated. It really has to be played as a 49-minute album in full because the peaks and troughs are distributed across that timeline, not the timeline of each individual track. "Frida Found a Friend" peaks after three minutes of meandering, and then spends a minute and a half recovering from the shock. Quieter periods may last 20 seconds or four minutes, building momentum or easing tension, climaxing or not and then building again. For the actual finale, closer "Cutting Ice to Snow" starts with Sjöberg and a backing vocalist imitating whalesong so slowly that you have to remember to breathe before the album dies. It's rejuvenated by the high-end of a piano and that aforementioned banjo, which conspire to finish the album with a sense of contented resolution. Parades, both restrained and wildly dramatic, gently touching and warmly enveloping, is not a record that sits comfortably with convenient labels. Instead, let's just say that it's as compelling as a winding ride through an unexplored mountain range: with scenery of size, light and dark skies, and a map that no one can read.

Lost at Sea.net
Efterklang Parades Leaf Rating: 9/10 Online review When I was a kid living in suburban Cleveland, Ohio, I loved escaping the mundane existence of suburbia by visiting the woods near my family's home. There I would fade into the mysteries of the trees, becoming an explorer and adventurer in a land far removed from the cul-de-sacs, backyard barbeques, and riding lawnmowers of the suburbs' blissful ignorance. There in the secluded, wooded oasis my friends and I would play our version of hide-and-seek, using the cover of the distortion created by the treed expanse to mask the location of our voices. That sound of reverberation, collections of echoes that build, linger, and then fade into the surroundings, has always fascinated me. Perhaps I favor the sound of reverb because it is a lot like life. On Parades, an album of echoes and haunting sounds that continue to linger well after the last note fades away, Efterklang has produced a sort of score for those secluded moments. Efterklang, whose name is, in fact, the Danish word for reverberation, sprang from Als, a small island off the coast of Denmark in the Baltic Sea, near the peninsular border with Germany. Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen, and Rasmus Stolberg all hail from Als, and were joined by Thomas Husmer and Rune Mølgaard to form Efterklang in 2000. Parades is the follow-up to Tripper, the group's debut LP of 2004, which was itself a captivating mix of electronic rhythms, layered vocals, and strings. There is, however, very little electronica within the confines of Parades, the exception being minimal background sounds and a few synthesized melodies, particularly on "Him Poe Poe." Parades is a more natural album than its predecessor, the band preferring to ply their trade with real instruments rather than electronic ones. A mélange of organic instrumentation floods the album, which is populated by brass, strings, piano, woodwinds, percussion, and a cast of others. Layers of echoing vocals add to the wall of sound. Listening to Parades is a true auditory experience, as there is a denseness and perpetual vastness to the eleven tracks. That trait no doubt owes itself to the fact that many of the tracks were recorded in large, reverb-inducing spaces: a church, bathroom, and an echo-chamber. The songs, including the standouts "Polygene," "Caravan," and "Illuminant," begin simply before stacking layers of instruments and voices towards crescendo. Like most great albums, Parades works more as a sum of its parts than it does as a collection of individual tracks, with the songs flowing past the listener like floats in a surreal parade. With their ability to make beautiful, otherworldly music out of sounds that one might not logically pair together, Efterklang have always reminded me of Sigur Rós. Their songs are engaging, well crafted, and evocative, and will be sure to inspire nights of passion, thought, and a higher realm of consciousness. Parades is a gorgeous and flowing album that feels both remarkably large and intimate in the same moment. It's kind of like my experiences as a kid in that wood of old - wonder and familiarity around every turn, a lovely little universe all my own to explore over and over again. Reviewed by Eric J. Morgan

More noteable press quotes....
"This is their Dark Side Of The Moon, their OK Computer; it's the album Björk wishes she'd conjured in her mind when realising Vespertine, full of mystery and long-term intrigue." 10/10, Mike Diver, Drowned In Sound

"Every so often an album comes along that's so original it's difficult to accurately liken it to anything else – even Efterklang's last album, Tripper, is left behind by Parades." 4/5, Mike Barnes, Mojo Nov 2007

"More organic than their 2004 debut, Parades is just as richly rewarding" 4/5, Stephen Troussé, Uncut, Nov 2007

"Parades is, quite simply, a masterpiece." 5/5, Bruno Lasnier, themilkfactory

"Not easy to pin down and all the better for it" Phil Harrison, Time Out

"An album to blow minds and warm hearts" Graham Lynch, Rock-a-Rolla, Sep/Oct 2007

"...warmth to spare" 3/5, John Aizlewood, Q, Nov 2007

"a beautiful record of lush, and endearing electronic/indie pop music" Cillian McDonnell, Totally Dublin/Cork

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