Posted on Oct 20th 2009 12:52 am

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Performing Parades
The Leaf Label 2009
11 Tracks. 56mins31secs

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When they released their second album, Parades, back in October 2007, Danish formation Efterklang probably had very little idea that they would literally live on it for two years. Right from the onset, Efterklang have truly come to life performing live, and this was undoubtedly key in their moving from the largely electronic textures of their early releases toward much more acoustic and instrument-based. Their 2007 mini album Under Giant Trees, recorded while the band were on tour, established the blueprint for Parades, released a few months later. A much more ambitious effort than its predecessor, Tripper, published in 2004, the album was recorded with a number of additional contributors, including Peter Broderick and Our Broken Garden’s Anna Brønsted, together with a variety of formations and choirs. Shortly after Parades was released, Efterklang were contacted by Karl Bjerre Skibsted, of DR, the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, with the idea of playing the album in full with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra. The performance took place a year after the album was released, on 26 September 2008 at DR’s Koncerthuset in Copenhagen. The performance was captured both on film and on tape, and is presented in this CD/DVD set.

This performance follows the exact same order as the original album, but the context is very different. Efterklang have performed these songs live a considerable amount of time in the last two years, but they had to do with just a restricted set of musicians to recreate the riches of Parades. While the sheer energy of the band has certainly made up for the shortage of musicians over time, these songs were written with extensive formations in mind. Here, it is as if blood was rushing once again through dry veins, flooding melodies with lush acoustic sounds and powerful orchestral swathes. The versions presented here are quite different from the original. Of course, in the year that Efterklang had been touring, the songs had grown and matured quite drastically, but the performance is also much more vivid and contrasted. The song at times, as on Him Poe Poe, Frida Found A Friend or Caravan for instance, gain here incredible relief, to the point of making the originals sound pale and lacklustre in comparison. This however occasionally obliterate the extremely delicate side of the music of Efterklang a tad. This is perhaps mostly the case on closing track Cutting Ice With Snow, which, on paper at least, sounds the ideal candidate for the orchestral treatment, but which ends up losing part of its subtle undertones, especially in its latter part.

Beside the whole DB Koncerthuset performance, directed by Benjamin Hesseldoldt, showing the orchestra dressed in full Efterklang regalia (pointy hats, odd traditional-looking costumes and even odder make-up) and a stage set designed, all by Nan Na Hvass and Sofie Hannibal, the duo responsible for the covers for Parades and Under Giant Trees and the video for Mirador, the DVD also features a thirty-five minute behind-the-scene documentary and the seven videos of songs from Parades. The documentary, in Danish, with English subtitles available, gives a good insight into the two weeks leading to the performance, from the first rehearsal to moments before the performance, documenting tensions, stress, joy and energy rush resulting of the build up to the main event.

As Efterklang are leaving Leaf for 4AD, with whom they’ll be releasing their third album sometime next year, they are, with this wonderful set and the imminent performance with the Britten Sinfonia at the Barbican next week, closing a long and rich chapter in their young career. Performing Parades is a superb document of what a band with a wild imagination and the will to take things as far as they can, can achieve in a relatively short period of time.


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