"Even though you think its cold, it's not cold", Efterklang's Casper Clausen admonished the full house at Dan's Silverleaf. Hailing from Denmark and having spent time above the Arctic Circle, he knows of what he speaks. The dapper Clausen and band mates Rasmus Stolberg on bass and Mads Bauer on electronics were joined by a woman with an operatic range, guitarist who doubled on keys, and a powerful drummer, each of who looked as if the were supplied from Nordic central casting. And between them they did a remarkable job adapting the songs from Piramida, the album resulting from that Arctic trip to the abandoned Soviet town of the same name in order to harvest sounds from the decaying infrastructure.
The band took the stage at close to 11:30 and launched into the atmospheric album opener Hollow Mountain. Hitting their stride immediately, the band demonstrated just how much they have evolved since I first saw them at Hailey's four years ago. Clausen, initially wearing a bow tie and camel color jacket, is a charismatic charmer, but his agile voice is much more from and center now. Joined in what was often four-part harmony, it was still his voice that lent the songs their emotional punch, sometimes lulling the listener like Kings of Convenience, at other times a howl.
As talented as each of the musicians in the spotlight were, Bauer, hanging back in darkness most of the evening, proved to be the real secret weapon to the bands sound. Vigorously manipulating an array of keyboards, electronics and an iPad, he wove the dense soundscapes that the other performers embellished with their instruments and voice.
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The 80-minute set drew heavily from Piramida, but the set closed with the fantastic Modern Drift. Even if you don't know the band's music, you may be familiar with this song from Audi commercials. The three core members returned for an encore that began with a new un-named song, allowing the band to watch the dynamics of these three friends. They were rejoined with the rest of the band to close the evening with The Ghost, underscoring what a lovely and unrushed evening it was.
Preceding Efterklang was NIghtlands, the solo project of Dave Hartley, last seen in these parts playing bass for War On Drugs. Like the headliners, Hartley's music featured complex harmonies from each member of his four-member band (joined last night by local über-violinist Daniel Hart). With a layered, mellow sound, the music conjured up an interesting mix of 60s harmonies, 70s soft rock, and contemporary wall of sound like WOD or friend Kurt Vile. The songs felt like they were more about the drive than arriving at any particular destination, and it was a lovely trip.
Beginning the evening was Denton's own Chambers. With their own tight harmonies, layering of guitars and violin, the band was very impressive and a perfect opening for a night of lush and unhurried music.