Danish band Efterklang reverberates in alternative scene

Kevin Speirs

Most would think any recent talk regarding Scandinavian countries must be referring to the Olympic Games. As awesome as the Olympics are, a musical movement which began in Copenhagen is also creating a worldwide buzz. Formed in 2000, the band Efterklang has slowly climbed to the top of the alternative music scene, and its newest release, “Magic Chairs” may be the final step needed to truly break through in 2010.

The band has formed their own record label, Rumraket, signing such artists as fellow Danish band Slaraffenland, Icelandic string quartet Amiina and indie/alternative demigods Grizzly Bear. The band releases their own work on the Leaf Label in the U.K. and the United States, but uses Rumraket for additional exposure and marketing. 

Efterklang consists of four core members: Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen, Thomas Husmer and Rasmus Stolberg, but the band usually travels with additional members for the added layers and instrumentation. Every member plays at least one instrument, usually shuffling around the stage throughout their live performances.

Efterklang’s first true breakthrough into the scene was with 2004’s “Tripper.” With intricate electronic beats, orchestration and at times even a full choir, “Tripper” is an album highlighted by the band’s meticulous work ethic and specific attention to detail. 

In 2007, they began to turn heads with their second full-length “Parades.” “Parades” similarly mixes flowing orchestration with scattered electronic beats and alternating male-female vocals for a rich musical experience. 

Judging from past successes, “Magic Chairs” has the potential to be an album to be reckoned with in 2010. Scheduled to be released on Feb. 23 worldwide, reviews for “Magic Chairs” have already been positive. With a sound comparable to Sigur Rós, Arcade Fire, Múm and Grizzly Bear, Efterklang offers a varied, pleasant mix of orchestration, electronics and harmonious beauty. 

The first track and lead single off “Magic Chairs” is “Modern Drift,” a melodious build of arpeggiated keys, swirling percussion and flowing strings. The slow build progresses throughout, with momentum to keep you interested during the entire song. 

The second track on the album, “Alike,” takes a more experimental approach. Here, Efterklang reverts back to its electronic beats. With an unusual tempo and a synth-string chord progression, Casper Clausen softly chants of redemption. As the song continues, horns slowly build to a point where rhythm teeters on the edge of regularity before falling to a joyful explosion of sound. 

Efterklang manages to have an interesting experimental sound while also creating pretty pop songs. Lyrical images of nature and the outdoors also add to the sensuous quality its music has.

The name Efterklang loosely translates to echo, but with closer ties to reverberation or remembrance. Yet, given its progression  thus far, they do not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.  

Efterklang kicks off its U.S. tour on March 2 at the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia before heading to New York, Boston and then the Midwest before finishing the tour in Los Angeles.