Wired for sounds
Efterklang's forthcoming performance with the Major Lift Orchestra at the Cork Opera House will certainly have music fans salivating at the prospect of seeing these Danish masters of melodic tones perform their new album, 'Piramida'. Casper Clausen took time out from his busy schedule to talk to Kieran O' Mahony about why they went on a special expedition to collect sound recordings before they hit the studio to record the new album.
The Arctic Island of Spitsbergen in the North Pole may be seem like an unlikely place for a band to up sticks to but for the members of Efterklang it was the ideal source of inspiration as they set about planning to record their fourth album, 'Piramida'. Known for their sweeping sounds and lush arrangements the Danish band made up of school friends Mads Braver, Casper Clausen and Rasmus Stolberg found the island to be a source of symphonic sounds which they have used on the album, a follow up to 'Magic Chairs' which was released in 2010 by the well respected and iconic British label, 4AD and on their own imprint label, Rumracket.
Spitsbergen is apparently home to more polar bears than people and is also home to the ghost town of Piramida, a former Russian settlement which was abandoned overnight in 1998 and today stands as a slowly decaying ruin still full of physical memories like the world's northernmost piano. They spent nine days there last summer ad Piramida became the perfect source for unusual sounds and instruments and the band collected over a 1,000 recordings which they skilfully integrated into the recording of the album. The lead song from the album, 'Hollow Mountain' has the initial tones of protruding metal spikes from an oil tank that the band found abandoned in the town and the band nicknamed this instrument 'Miss Piggy'.
"The idea for the album started last year when the three of us went up to visit Spitsbergen in the North Pole. It was quite a crazy trip and it wasn't a normal way to start a record but we were looking to do something different for this release and try a create a record from a location. A few years back we received an email from a Swedish director who told us about this place," said Casper Clausen, speaking to the Cork Independent from Berlin.
"So when we were discussing the new album we had talked about wanting to use a location as inspiration for the album. And then this place fitted so well. When we went there on the expedition on the first day we didn't know what songs we would have. I mean, we have always been using different sounds and interested in walking around with a field recorder and listening out for unusual sounds. We basically went around Piramida listening to what this town had to offer and picked up some amazing sounds like this huge tank which you can hear at the beginning of 'Hollow Mountain'.
'Hollow Mountain' also features contributions from Earl Harvin from the Tindersticks, Nils Frahm (wurlitzer), Peter Broderick (strings) and the 60 piece South Denmark's Girls Choir.
"When we returned a lot of the work we did was processing the sounds we collected, there was a lot of interesting sounds to investigate. Usually when the three of us begin a new album we start from the same place with a few lyrics and melodies and might return to them later. But with this album we feel we have been on a journey together. I feel really proud of this record."
Joining Efterklang on the night will be The Major Lift Orchestra, which is an all encompassing concept for which Cork Opera House has big plans, and they have been put together to present 'Piramida'. The orchestra is made up of 24 players that include Kenneth Rice, one of Ireland's most versatile violin players along with Cork Opera House musician in residence Kate Ellis on Cello. Their new album has been arranged by internationally renowned classical composers Missy Mazzoli (Kronos Quartet), Karsten Fundal and Daniel Bjarnason (Sigur Rós). The premiere performance of this concert took place earlier this year at a sell-out show at Sydney Opera House where they performed with the acclaimed Sydney Symphony Orchestra. Efterklang will then go onto New York to play with the Wordless Music Orchestra at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Readers may remember that the Berlin-based band were in Cork only last summer when they performed at the Reich Effect Festival.
Efterklang play the Cork Opera House with The Major Lift Orchestra as part of Absolute Fringe on Saturday 15 September and tickets are €25 and doors are at 8pm. Their new album 'Piramida' is released on 24 September.