Review: Efterklang’s Piramida

Efterklang: PiramidaEfterklang: Piramida (4AD, 9/25/12)


Efterklang: “Apples”

Efterklang can hear dead people, or so it seems. Perhaps that’s why the Danish post-rock ensemble visited Pyramiden — a ghost town on the Arctic Norwegian island of Spitsbergen — to create its new album of similar name.

At the abandoned Russian settlement, its members wandered a landscape of streams and mountains, recording the sounds of seabirds, footfall, and rushing wind. In the studio, they added the ethereal vocals of a choir and the chime-like peals of a glass-bottle collection. Whether or not these sounds are messages from another realm, they summon haunting melodies and shiver-inducing rhythms. It makes perfect sense, considering that “efterklang” means remembrance and reverberation.

The album resonates with hints of the year 2000, re-imagined in a contemporary context of globalization and the rampant spread of EDM. This was the year that Radiohead released Kid A; it also was the year that Efterklang formed, right after three childhood friends moved to Copenhagen from a tiny Scandinavian island. Piramida seems like a soundtrack for Kid A’s cover art, whose jagged, icy mountains pierce a midnight sky. This scene looks much like Pyramiden itself, and Piramida also teems with Kid A-like sonics: unconventional song structures, computerized sound effects, and an emphasis on texture.

On the whole, singer Casper Clausen’s vocals are warmer than Thom Yorke’s, even when they break into a chilling falsetto on “Sedna.” Organic elements are more prevalent as well. Footsteps converge with meditative piano chords, sprightly bells, and atmospheric, Peter Gabriel-style vocals in “Dreams Today,” which melts into the ether before “Between the Walls.” The penultimate track then unleashes a spate of syncopated fuzz, electronic harps, and poignant lyrics that could lure listeners almost anywhere, even near the North Pole.

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