‘Piramida’ an excursion into isolation

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As an indie band from Denmark that is classified primarily in the “alternative folk” genre, Efterklang isn’t a band that many people could be expected to have listened to, let alone heard of. Although they have been around since 2003, they have only put out three albums previously, before their Sept. 25 release of their newest work, “Piramida.” Although not a well-recognized artist over here in the United States, the story behind their new album in addition to their unique music make Efterklang one of the more interesting bands out there.

Usually, music is a sum of all of the parts of the band; the emotional state of all of the members, the experiences and ideas of the writers, and the skill of the musicians. For “Piramida,” the environment of the recording is perhaps what influences the feel and mood of the album the most. The title is taken from the name of an abandoned mining town on an island that sits on the outskirts of the Arctic Circle, in perhaps one of the most desolate and lonely locations in the world.

This choice of location sets the tone for the album. If there was one word to describe the music of “Piramida” as a whole, it would be “isolation.” Throughout the entirety of the tracks, neither the vocals nor the music seem to try to take center stage. When frontman Casper Clausen sings, his voice softly echoes and sways. When the instruments are playing, a diverse mix of electronic and acoustic pieces, they always seem to be restrained, never culminating in a striking movement or overpowering the song. “Piramida” is a passive album, with numerous background noises that make it feel like the listener is isolated themselves. The effect is unnerving at first, but the longer one listens to the album, the better it feels. It fits the coffeehouse vibe; music that sounds better when relaxing to it playing in the background than it does when one actually sits down and focuses on it.

The overall tone aside, the music is solid. Efterklang comes off as a softer Coldplay, with similar-sounding vocals but a much more somber and introspective feel. “Told to Be Fine” is a high-point of the album, mixing a cascade of synthesizers with distinct drumbeats to make an almost dream-like work that sounds like Casper is thinking the song aloud. The effect is mesmerizing, and leaves the listener wanting more when it’s finished. Another particularly enjoyable song is “Dreams Today,” which is perhaps the most uplifting song on the entire album. Although most of it is simply piano, the constant playing injects a fresh breath of life to the somber-sounding second half of “Piramida.” It breaks down some of the isolation of the rest of the work, and although it is comparatively short at three minutes long, the effect is marvelously satisfying.

Overall, “Piramida” is definitely an album that will make you think and wonder. The isolating mood and haunting sounds inspire many different feelings over the course the record, ranging from uplifting highs to somber lows. Part of the fun is the unpredictability of where Efterklang is going to go next. Each song is unique in its own way, but works beautifully when listened to as a cohesive work. This culminates in a deeply satisfying album that makes listening to it an enriching experience.

This article makes use of notes from the following sources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/reviews/cfrj
http://www.adequacy.net/2012/09/efterklang-piramida/
http://www.npr.org/2012/09/16/160681284/first-listen-efterklang-piramida

About the Author

Jason Miller

Jason Miller is a Chimes guest writer for the 2012-13 school year.

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