Forever fascinated by the purest possibilities of sound, since forming in 2001 Efterklang have consistently adjusted their sonic modus operandi to suit very specific inspirations. The results the Danes have produced so far – most notably across three acclaimed albums, 2004’s Tripper, 2007’s Parades and 2010’s Magic Chairs – have each explored different directions, each an end product of remarkably studied songcraft and emotional resonance.
But Piramida is perhaps the band’s greatest achievement: an album bringing the outside in, informed by frozen time and the relics humanity leaves in its expanding wake. Its roots were laid in 2010, when the band first saw photographs of a forgotten settlement lying, slowly dying, on Spitsbergen, an island of the Svalbard archipelago midway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole. This ghost town, which the trio eventually visited in August 2011 (drummer Thomas Husmer left before Piramida’s commencement), would give their fourth album its title, and comprise the conceptual catalyst for its contents.
A less-densely layered collection than the electronic-hued Parades, and more direct than Magic Chairs, Piramida is a rare example of a conceptually strong project that never forgets to let the concept serve the song, rather than the other way around. It’s a streamlined sound, but distinct and absorbing too. It showcases a band superbly capable of transitioning experiences shared by a select few into music that can be enjoyed by a wide, open-minded audience.
That Efterklang had to journey to the top of the world to begin their creative process makes for a fantastic story; but it’s just the prologue for what happens now with Piramida. Launching the album at the Sydney Opera House in May 2012, the band completed the first voyage of many in this campaign – from north to south, with their finest record yet crafted somewhere between extreme latitudes. And wherever it lands next, Piramida has the elegant touch to make any vista a memorable one.