Efterklang Parades on 2LP + CD
2007's Parades is the second album by Denmark's Efterklang, the follow up to their underground hit of 2004, Tripper. Comprising 11 majestic, otherworldly pop songs, Parades manages to be both magnificently ambitious and engagingly intimate; a breathtaking panorama of sound with few clear antecedents. Music with no boundaries. In a parallel universe, songs like "Mirador" and "Caravan" would be number one forever.
Though the music that became Parades was recorded concurrently with the critically acclaimed (and already collectible) Under Giant Trees mini-album that preceded it, the latter was essentially a summation of songs the band had pieced together on tour in 2005. Parades is cut from a different cloth: this is all new material spun from raw ingredients, carefully stitched and lovingly embroidered with fine detail. If you let yourself be enveloped, this living tapestry could take years to unpick.
Work on Parades began in late 2005 with a series of simple song sketches. Then, they began to develop. The recording itself took 18 intense months and involved more than 30 guest musicians, including a string quartet, a brass quintet and three separate choirs. The band describes their writing and recording method as "one long process of sculpturing; adding, stretching or subtracting the pieces of each song, finding the right melodies to guide the different pieces and instrumentation of it all."
The album title refers to this approach; the notion being that each song is an assemblage of separate celebratory events, brought together as a accomplished whole. As the band describes it, "We like the idea that these songs are a huge parade moving past the listener – each section creating a new experience, an individual room of a house. Yet all the elements fit together, so you get a sense of the entire structure as the elements shift and coalesce."
Unlike previous recordings, the band relied less on digital techniques and went for a palatial sound by recording in large rooms. A boys' choir and a church organ were recorded in a church, while other instruments were recorded in their studio bathroom and hallway; others in an echo chamber. Darren Allison (who worked on My Bloody Valentine's Loveless, and Ladies and Gentlemen... by Spiritualized – records that surely need no introduction) mixed the album on analogue equipment with Efterklang's Mads Brauer, distinguishing the minutiae of sound while keeping the bigger picture of each song firmly in focus.
Like a gigantic piece of musical theatre, Parades is a remarkable achievement, dense and diverse, and clearly a lot of fun to put together. You've never heard anything like it.