Post rockers are always perceived as intelligent – perhaps a little too smart for their own reputation – but there is something about the ability to change and shift time signatures and go quiet and loud and stop and start which divides opinions. For those in the ‘pro’ camp, the fans’ mono-tasking – listening intently with chin perched on hand – seems to sit at odds with the stereotype.
Efterklang, it’s fair to say, aren’t post-rock; that would do them a tremendous disservice. They are, it appears, a smart bunch, but also willing to learn. The Oran Mor audience, however, are unusually restrained, offering enthusiastic but polite applause, so when Casper Clausen requests a crash course in Glaswegian, the crowd fail to grab on this carte blanche opportunity for some choice heckling.
Not a bad thing of course. What Efterklang have in common with bog-standard post-rock is the light and shade in their music, ranging from giant shuddering dins to the most subtle moments of, in one case, complete silence, almost goading the crowd to interact with a whoop, or mistimed end-of-number applause. There’s not even a peep, however and we have to be thankful for the respect – that’s surely what it is – shown.
This Danish collective have recently performed 2007’s album Parades with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra. Tonight they’re rather less in number, stripped back to around eight members, but are certainly not lacking in sonic variety. Multi-instrumentalists all, they incorporate trumpet, sax and flute as well as the expected drums and keys, which include multiple percussion – their budget even extending to a mini set of drums and cymbals for the frontman.
Harmonies are also an integral part of their sound – mostly these come courtesy of Heather Broderick and surprisingly perhaps echo Prefab Sprout, even if the band aren’t exactly making pop songs. That said, many of their tunes are eminently whistleable, with handclaps also forming an integral part of their sound. There’s even one moment where the entire group are playing tambourines, yet managing, though only just, not to sound like a Salvation Army band.
The band, perhaps already worn down by the exploits performing their classical tour de force, are already playing new songs from their next album due next spring – and if anything the new material sounds fresher and more ‘pop’ than what’s gone before, even more so than closing number ‘Caravan’.
As it happens Tim from Camera Obscura is their guest and plays trumpet on several tunes, but they’ve less in common with his band – think Long Fin Killie for their rhythm-based sound and gently intoned vocals, with hints of Aereogramme for the sonic diversity, or My Latest Novel for the integral harmonies. The overriding impression however is the fact that their music – downbeat, even mournful at times – is consistently uplifting, the band channeling celestial choirs and natural wonders into a majestic overall cacophony.
Polite applause turns to adoration which coaxes the band back for encore ‘Chapter 6’ which sees the lights dimmed and amps shut down for an acoustic march through the audience, a traveling band of minstrels. Finally Efterklang and their fans get the chance to get to know one another.