There are some albums which are so left-field that they will entirely split their listening audience. This is almost certainly going to be the case with Efterklang’s ambitious debut album, Tripper. Some people are going to love it, whilst others will simply be bored to tears.
A year after recording their only previous release, the EP Springer, the ten-piece from Denmark have come up with a 51-minute soundscape with leanings towards Brian Eno‘s ambient work but with a twist of electronica that is utterly unique.
The sound of a soothing wind, blended with a morse code-like beep and soft keyboard sounds open the album with first track Foetus. Offering as an enchanting beginning, strings and a solemn Greenlandic choir can then be heard as you are left in no doubt that this is not going to be the lost feel-good record of the summer.
With second track, Swarming, the album begins to take a direction as if it were the soundtrack to the foetus of the first song being born – it simply sounds as if it is describing something monumental, yet beautiful taking place. The vocals and horns on this song are also reminiscent of some of Mogwai‘s music.
There are many times that you will find yourself wondering if there is something wrong with the CD such are the clicking type noises and scratchy sounds that can be heard throughout, but fear not, it is supposed to be like that.
Most, if not all, of the vocals on the album are almost totally incomprehensible yet they add an extra layer of intimacy to what is a very emotional album. You could almost imagine the church-like droning and hushed tones being part of a ceremony for some kind of underground religious sect.
Listening to the record it is hard to separate the songs individually. They all transcend into one another, each as delicate and moving as the next. A key element of the album’s sound is provided by the haunting notes of Iceland’s Amina string quartet, previously heard with Sigur Ros, who guest on this release.
The word Efterklang apparently means reverberation or remembrance, and if the rest of the band’s releases are to follow the same vein as this, then few groups could have been more aptly named. That sense of remembrance, even mourning, is very evident in their music. Yet, last track, Chapter 6, does offer a feeling of hope with it’s unique blend of dance beats, strings, horns and ethereal vocals.
It is said that the group’s live show is a sight to behold – film maker Karim Ghahwagi is even named as an officially band member – and you can imagine complete with visuals an Efterklang gig would certainly be a different night out. Maybe not the ideal plan for a first date, but certainly something to consider if you’re ever in a spiritual frame of mind.
Make no mistake, this is not an album which is going to be to everybody’s tastes. Admittedly I found it tough going on first listen. But give it a chance and it is a grower. One to listen to with the lights turned off on one of those cold winter nights we’ve got ahead of us.