Enigmatic Danish ensemble Efterklang have been making their sublime and wondrous music for over a decade now. For this their fourth album, they decamped to an abandoned Russian mining settlement in the Arctic Circle. Their spell in what was effectively a ghost town, proved to be a productive one – some of the recordings and ambient sounds they brought back are subtly present here on Piramida.
Piramida marks no major shift in direction from their last album Magic Chairs, but it is a richly rewarding record that yields something new with every listen. All the elements that were present in previous Efterklang recordings are to found here only with a defter, lighter touch. The strings, brass percussion and electronica that featured so prominently on their first three albums are still there, but blended into the overall sound in a more subtle, understated way.
Opener ‘Hollow Mountain’ sets the tone - a quirky percussive motif and angelic choral voices introduce the sombre tones of vocalist Casper Clausen. ‘Apples’ with its shuffling beat and stabbing blasts of synthesised horns is an early highlight, and one of the more memorably melodic tracks on the record. There are strong echoes of Talk Talk circa their classic Spirit of Eden album in the downbeat atmospherics of ‘Sedna’ and particularly on standout track ‘Black Summer’. The beautiful but brief ‘Dreams Today’ offers some respite from the markedly darker tone of this album compared to previous releases; it is not unfair to say that Piramida is a less accessible record than Magic Chairs and demands a degree of patience.
With very few ‘wow’ moments, Piramida is an album that grows on you with each and every listen. It requires a degree of immersion from the listener, a willingness to seek out the nuanced beauty to be found in every richly detailed moment. Give it the patience it deserves, and it is sure to reveal its quiet majesty.
Review by Paul Page