The experimental Danish post-rock group Efterklang emerged in the front half of the 2000s with an enchanting blend of atmospheric pop and lushly arranged orchestral rock elements. The band found an audience, especially in Europe, releasing their first two albums via England's the Leaf Label before signing on with 4AD Records. 2012's expansive Piramida, recorded on an abandoned Russian coal-mining settlement on a remote Norwegian island, was a creative and career high point, motivating future experiments like the 2015 opera Leaves: The Colour of Falling. During a band hiatus, Efterklang's core members formed another band called Liima who issued a pair of albums in 2016 and 2017 before returning to their primary project for 2019's highly collaborative Altid Sammen.
Efterklang came together in December 2000, when childhood friends Casper Clausen (vocals), Mads Brauer (computer), and Rasmus Stolberg (guitar) — all three having recently moved to Copenhagen from the tiny Danish island of Als — joined musical forces with pianist Rune Mølgaard (piano) and drummer/trumpeter Thomas Husmer. From the start, the bandmembers took a D.I.Y. approach to their music, handling all aspects of songwriting, recording, and production in their Copenhagen practice space. The self-released Springer EP was issued in 2003 on the band's own Rumraket label, with 500 copies packaged in fake fur. That same year, video artist Karim Ghahwagi joined the ensemble and began pairing Efterklang's music with integrated video collages.
Now attracting attention from record labels, the band signed with Yorkshire's The Leaf Label and issued Tripper in 2004; the orchestral album soon became the fastest-selling debut in The Leaf Label's history. Efterklang's popularity soared in Denmark, with "Under Giant Trees" debuting at number one on the country's singles chart. Several smaller releases followed — the reissued version of Springer, One-Sided LP on Philadelphia's Burnt Toast Vinyl, the five-song Under Giant Trees — and Efterklang released their third full-length, Parades, in October 2007. The group toured extensively for the next two years, and the hard work ethic paid off with an invitation to join the roster of 4AD in September of 2009, alongside the National, TV on the Radio, and Deerhunter. Even so, the band remained loyal to its first indie label, and the following month The Leaf Label released Performing Parades, a live CD and DVD of Efterklang performing Parades in its entirety with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra in Copenhagen.
For 2010's Magic Chairs, Efterklang’s 4AD debut, Clausen, Brauer, Stolberg, and Husmer attempted a more traditional rock sound by recording the basic tracks live as a four-piece before adding their customary lush arrangements. In August of 2011 the band traveled to the Arctic island of Spitsbergen, an abandoned Russian settlement near the North Pole. In Spitsbergen they spent time in the abandoned village of Piramida recording sounds in and around the decaying remnants of the town's leftover industrial remnants, including huge silos acting as reverb tanks and the world's northernmost piano. This audio expedition provided an array of unique sonic textures as well as the inspiration for 2012's isolated and shimmering full-length Piramida.
Piramida marked the end of an era for the group; after the fittingly titled Last Concert in the core trio's hometown of Sønderborg, the Efterklang project was put on hold in favor of free-form collaboration. After co-writing and performing the opera LEAVES: The Colour of Falling as part of the Copenhagen Opera Festival in the summer of 2015, the group reconnected with touring drummer Tatu Rönkkö to produce new material. Under the Liima moniker, the group took a more rapid-fire approach to recording, producing 2016 debut ii and 2017 sophomore album 1982 through a series of improvisation-based jam sessions. After Rönkkö returned to solo work, the trio joined baroque band B.O.X. to perform new, collaborative material at their festival, mixMass.
The trio, inspired by the material developed in these sessions, revived Efterklang and began work on a new LP. Working alongside B.O.X. and artists they had performed with at Berlin's PEOPLE festival, Efterklang embarked on a series of studio sessions across Europe. The sessions were marked with a distinct European influence: alongside heavy collaboration with local talent, these recordings were the first in which Clausen sang in his native tongue. The result was a wealth of raw material, from which the trio pieced together and refined their fifth studio album, Altid Sammen, released in September 2019. ~ Andrew Leahey & David Crone