Three's a crowd and four's a band, is that how the phrase goes? No, I didn't think so, however, when the three members of the Danish band Efterklang, Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen and Rasmus Stolberg (Weren't they all in 'Borgen' too?) teamed up last year with Finnish percussionist Tatu Ronkko (Check the video 'I Play your Kitchen' and be amazed), Efterklang became Liima. The debut ten track album, 'ii', is the result of their first studio collaboration.
Although the foursome are not strictly a completely new venture, Ronkko being previously credited as drummer for Efterklang live, Liima is certainly a formalisation and recognition of his undoubted input and influence on an album that has distinct differences from their previous work. This is not like a 5th Efterklang record, more of a new sideline that shares particular nuances.
'ii' is at times oddly eclectic, hard to pin down and peculiarly random in its half heard references. It's not trying to be cryptic or clever but it is more of a 1000 piece jigsaw than a 100 piece one. At times 'ii' takes its platform from a Dance based framework, picking out rhythmic beats and enhancing them with, occasional, sub-technonic bass bombs that could trigger a seismic event ('Your Heart'). There is an 80's like white funk/soul/electro fusion that pervades some tracks ('Trains In The Dark', 'You Stayed In Touch With The Wrong Guy') where a distinctly Heaven 17 groove has somehow seamlessly meshed with a brooding Simple Minds meets Dead Can Dance arrangement. (It's like the Heston Blumenthal of music; sounds bonkers, tastes great)
Elsewhere on 'ii' there is the semi industrial, not to be heard pre-dental visit, exploratory percussive excellence of 'Roger Waters', where enhanced vocal harmonies share the mix with a plethora of beats and bleeps. There is the slightly softer, more accessible first track taken from the album, 'Amerika', where the beats are tempered, the vocal more subdued and the melodies more immediate and then there are the largely instrumental, dramatic slow build of 'Woods' as well as synth and vocal brevity of closer 'Change Of Time'.
Where Liima bring all of the above together so well, so superbly and so effectively however is on mid-album track, '513'. Here the percussive elements build to unfurl a swathe of synths, vocoder and layer upon layer of carefully built and steadily building music that shifts in the latter third into a mesmeric, tidal wave of exhilarating sound. The production throughout 'ii' is good but on '513' both the band and producer Jonas Verwijnen excel themselves.
Liima's debut release is hopefully only the start of a new collaborative venture that will see the foursome give up yet more delights in their new guise. Yet another Scandinavian triumph, and no sub-titles required.
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