Bearded Magazine’s albums of 2012: my choice — Efterklang “Piramida”
Efterklang’s fourth — and best — album to date has all the hallmarks of a band making definitive leaps forward. The Danish quartet’s sound has always been difficult to categorise, moving from the wintry, glitchy electronics of early release Tripper, through to embracing more immediate pop songs on third album to Magic Chairs, to this: a concept album (in the loosest sense of the word) influenced by a trip the band made to the settlement of Piramida, the ghost town remains of a Russian mining colony in the Arctic Circle. Fascinated with the town’s history, the band spent nine days there gathering samples and influences for the album — capturing the sounds of everything from birds and bottles to the world’s northernmost grand piano. The remoteness and emptiness of Piramida (the town was completely abandoned in 1998) echoes throughout the album, delivering ten mostly sombre, melancholy songs which share an over-riding sense of loss and desolation.
The warmth which has characterised the band’s sound to date may take a little while to permeate, but Piramida is far from gloomy listening despite the downbeat subject matter: the brassy orchestration which fleshes out many of the tracks make for a rich, enveloping sound (‘Apples’ uses this to full effect and is simply astounding), whilst the band’s trademark twinkly percussion which has been present on all of their work remains intact. Whilst perhaps a little too poised and immaculate at times, there’s no faulting the ambition here, and fewer more elegant albums have been released this year. Give time for this album’s glacial facade to melt a little, and the rewards are spectacular.