Wednesday, March 28, 2007

EFTERKLANG: Under Giant Trees (The Leaf Label)

EFTERKLANG
Under Giant Trees
DOCK46CD
The Leaf Label 2007
05 Tracks. 29mins11secs




Buy it: CD | LP
Efterklang | The Leaf Label

Copenhagen-based outfit Efterklang caused something of a stir as they deployed their elegant pastoral pop songs over the course of Tripper, their debut album, released in the autumn of 2004 on Leaf. In just under an hour, the quintet, formed of Mads Brauer (electronics), Rune Mølgaard (piano), Thomas Husmer (drums) and multi instrumentists Rasmus Solberg and Casper Clausen, the latter also assuming vocal duties, hung up beautiful crafted songs set in scintillating backdrops of pianos, strings and found sounds. The album followed a previous EP, Springer, originally published on the band’s own Rumraket imprint in 2003 before Leaf released it early again in 2005. Efterklang have since released a very limited one-sided vinyl EP at the end of 2006.

Under Giant Trees comes in a fold out packaging with stunning illustrations from Danish artist Nan Ha Hvass, who captures the spirit of the music particularly well here. The five tracks featured on this mini album were devised as additional pieces to be performed during the band’s 2005 tour and were recorded in the band’s studio when Efterklang returned to Copenhagen. Moving away from the naïve melodies of previous releases, these are sweeping songs for drunks and sailors, torn between the somber atmospheres of Matt Elliott and the cinematic melancholy of Yann Tiersen. Falling Horses and Towards The Bare Hill especially stagger over emotional melodies and appear to progress with no particular aim as melodies and orchestrations revolve unsteadily around each other, but they are finely tuned indeed and crafted in the most exquisite fashion. Himmelbjerget waxes and waning gracefully between soft string work and orchestral grandeur, while Hands Playing Butterfly reveals a much more nocturnal tone as a lonely piano snakes its way through sparse string work. The album concludes with the delightful Jojo, which somewhat fails in its mission to bring the listener gently back to reality, flourishing instead with increasing gleam and panache as the end nears.

For this release, the delicate sound formations which was at the heart of the band’s early work have largely been replace with ambitious melodic structures and rich orchestrations, but they are still heard furtively lurking in the background, emerging at the first sign of a calm moment, only to be buried under more ambitious arrangements again. As Efterklang push deeper into their magical sonic world, Under Giant Trees is a magnificent appetiser to the follow up to Tripper, due out toward the end of the year.

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