Somnambule - Writing About Music

Efterklang ~ Tripper

Tripper’s first track opens with a little static, hushed vibes and a soft morse-like beep. Sonorous strings arrive stealthily and are soon joined by a solemn choir. With a title like 'Foetus' there might be just the wisp of a suspicion of archness or prog-rock pomposity, but the effect of the music is reverent and gorgeous with a seriousness of approach reminiscent of recent Icelandic music. Swarming follows with dancing vibes shadowed by the pitter-patter of an unpredictable electronic insect. A female voice enunciates a lone, incomprehensible sentence followed quickly by a heavy synthetic rhythm rendered on a single note. A male singer speaks/sings together with the woman. Strings and acoustic piano and horns join them like a lush tidal wave with the electronic pulse anchoring everything together.

In these first two tracks Efterklang delineate a template for their own very special soundworld. The male and female voices singing mostly in tandem define, or at least focus, the emotional key of this music. And emotion - real feeling - is an essential ingredient of Efterklang’s music. The sum effect borders on the sacred. The music in its patience and sense of perseverance imparts a sense of sympathetic healing. It’s really difficult not to be enchanted. Unfortunately the words are generally not easy to make out, though their tone - at once mournful and sympathetic - is unmistakable (see note below).

Efterklang are a 10 strong ensemble from Copenhagen. Their name apparently means reverberation or remembrance. On the evidence of this album, the group appear in complete and remarkable control of their art. Sometimes it just feels so good to experience a rush of emotion triggered by music. The group join a small but growing number of groups who marry electronica with acoustic instrumentation in new ways which sound effortless and unforced. There’s something hushed and utterly sincere. The aforementioned Icelandic influence is apparent, otherwise it’s difficult to think of precedents, though some tracks trigger an association with Hana, the first track on Asa Chang and Junray’s Jun Ray Song Chang and the overall feel recalls the proud, serious atmosphere of Ingmar Bergman films such as Wild Strawberries or The Seventh Seal.

The Leaf Label along with a number of other labels chooses to send out review copies of cds which contain only cutdown copies of the booklet so that it's not possible to know whether any form of lyric sheet and additional details is included. Although perhaps understandable from an economic viewpoint, such practice mitigates against a proper assessment of the sum of music, graphics, lyrics, etc. When many record companies claim to suffer economically from music downloads the ability of reviews to describe the attractiveness of the package as a whole would seem a necessary investment.

Colin Buttimer
October 2004
Published by Milkfactory