Efterklang are a Danish five-piece currently based in Copenhagen. Parades is their second album on the Yorkshire-based The Leaf Label Label. And it is very, very good indeed.
Efterklang (‘reverberation’ or ‘sound memory’ in Danish) have existed since late 2000, started by childhood friends Rasmus Stolberg and Mads Brauer. The duo decamped to Copenhagen from their pastoral origins in the countryside, but eager Danish ears had to wait until 2004 to sample the band’s debut, Tripper. It was a startling first album that saw the band’s core five musicians (they have a sixth member who does their music vids) augmented by strings, horns and even a full Greenlandic choir that seemed to materialise – mysteriously – in a manner not seen since a particularly effective turn from David Copperfield.
While Tripper was a collection of tracks that managed to hang on to their own identity against many of the press’ lazier attempts to slot them along with Múm and/or Sigur Rós on one sonic axis and Boards of Canada and Four Tet on another, it was often awkward in its exposition, bombarding the listener with idea after idea, but lacking a coherent framework to combine them. Never before had listening to an album felt like panning for gold in a torrent of shiny, semi-precious stones.
Happily, this is not a criticism that can be levelled at Parades. Efterklang certainly haven’t scaled down their ambitions when it comes to their attempts to squeeze as many instruments as possible into the studio, but they’ve managed to dispel the air of serendipity that haunted Tripper. From the slow coalescing of sound that opens Polygyne to the last, hopeful guitar strums of Cutting Ice to Snow, every note on the album is planned with the precision of smart munitions, while still managing to sound thrillingly impromptu.
That’s not to say that Parades is an aggressive listen, although it does manage to evoke waves of shock and awe in the listener. Efterklang have managed to locate the sweet spot where the organic meets the electronic, and have carefully stuffed each track full to bursting point with a gorgeous mix that at times seems to require a new musical format, just to deal with the sheer bandwidth of sonic invention on display here.
If you’ve previously enjoyed late period Talk Talk or their spiritual progeny Bark Psychosis, drop everything and get Parades as soon as is financially and temporally possible, slap on your best headphones, and get ready to be transported. This is a band to watch.