Album Reviews

Liima – ii

(4AD) UK release date: 18 March 2016

Liima - II Liima means glue. Or cement. Pretty much anything with strong adhesive qualities. Were you to merely call your band ‘Glue’, one might reasonably assume that said band were a snot nosed DIY punk outfit – and not a particularly imaginative one at that. Liima, however, has a much more exotic, sophisticated air. (It rolls off the tongue nicely for a start… lee-mer.)

The word is Finnish, but Swedish in origin. Composed of Efterklang’s Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen and Rasmus Stolberg and percussionist Tatu Rönkkö, Liima are equally Nordic (from Denmark and Finland respectively) and their music is reflective of their name: they take a, by now, well worn mix of electronica and guitar music and load it with stirrings of urbane strangeness.

Many of the tracks emulate industrial rhythms, but this is not Krautrock – it’s more soulful and dreamy. Take Amerika: its recurrent driving rhythm and bouncing bass evokes the conveyor belt production of a factory, but the wondering, explorative synths suggest something more natural, more human. A good two minutes into the song the vocals appear to solidify its soul, all the while framed by a quiet funkiness.

This musical theme, of humanising Fordian production structures, flows into Roger Waters: rather neatly, the bass-line is basically that of Pink Floyd’s Money, and its cadence echoes industrial pulses. This time it’s more modern and tech-y, with plenty of blips and beeps – like looking off the precipice of the computer revolution: “I’m under the soil/it’s a new beginning.”

With ii, Liima are not restricted to ploughing one furrow, which makes for a full and gratifying record. Black Beach for example strays from repetitious percussion and flits and flirts with all manner of tempos and patterns. And Russian’s looped trumpeted opening announces the arrival of the record’s sunniest tune. The gorgeous warm melody posits: “Your home is everywhere,” then Casper’s falsetto soars, as he implores: “You gotta get into it.”

The tone of Woods is decidedly darker. You can rest assured, if you go down to the woods nothing good will come of it, you know this because the woods are full and busy with all manner of unnerving, persistent noises suggesting that something massively scary is in pursuit. Ah, but no matter, the tune soon collapses into a peaceful keyboard line and soothing vocals. All is well – a close one nonetheless.

Trains in the Dark begins with a shock of fat guitar chords, and slides into a Simple Minds-y number of dominant bass, sparse instrumentation and Casper in out and out crooning mode. It’s punctuated by icy synths and what sounds like tiny startled pixies. It is unclear why they are so perturbed, but you’d likely wager it could have something to do with the lyrics: “I know the face/and I know your face is black from disgrace.” It’s likely these sprites are of the prudish kind.

All in all, ii has a lot going on, but never feels overwrought, rather perfectly furnished with an array of ideas and styles. This is not an IKEA DIY bodge job, it is intricate layers carefully placed on top of each other to create a beautiful laminate, the members of Liima the all important glue. Not for them a mere few years before the cheap construction shows through and is tossed away: it won’t be easily chipped, nor slowly unmoor itself from the other components. This is handcrafted, in-it-for-the-long-haul music, which will give many hours of pleasure.

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