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Parades + Under Giant Trees

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CD: Efterklang,Parades + Under Giant Trees: DIGIPAK

BBC Review

Re-released alongside their 2004 debut LP Tripper, Parades is (to these ears) Efterklang’s finest album to date, a superbly sequenced suite that entrances and delights several listens after first contact. The record earned itself plenty of praise upon its original 2007 release, but deserves this fresh lease of life in the wake of its makers’ third collection, Magic Chairs, which came out in February 2010.

Compared to its successor, Parades is a more complex listen – where Magic Chairs introduced a greater immediacy to the Danish group’s chattering electronics and soothing strings, this set takes time to fully appreciate. It is not a record to pick apart into constituents, to shuffle into a new order; the way it moves from piece to piece demands that it is experienced in a single sitting. From the gentle opening voices – ghostly yet warm, detached yet embedded in a mix of sparking circuitry and teased percussion – of Polygyne through to the closing twinkles and thuds of Cutting Ice to Snow, it’s a whole that’s best left that way.

Singles were lifted from Parades, but the likes of Mirador and Caravan are best appreciated here, on their parent LP, than as standalone entities. That said, their videos are certainly worth a look – watch them on YouTube here (Mirador) and here (Caravan). The latter is a great example of the band’s use of lyrics as melodic tools as much as to convey any messages or themes. While the band does sing in English, the words can become indiscernible; but this simply adds to the air of mystery that surrounds this fascinating record. They are another layer to peel away, to digest in pursuit of understanding.

Tripper lays the foundations for what followed. It’s a more minimal, rawer-of-design release than either album after it, but will be of interest to those wanting to trace Efterklang’s progress back to their early, self-releasing roots. Those whose introduction to this spellbinding band was Magic Chairs are advised to seek out Parades first, though; especially now that it comes backed by the similarly styled, and similarly excellent, Under Giant Trees EP (2003’s Springer EP accompanies Tripper).

I’ve said it before, elsewhere, but Parades is this band’s Dark Side of the Moon – a wonderfully realised adventure through a singular musical vision. The band’s live performance of it, at London’s Barbican, is one of the best shows I have ever been to (the Copenhagen show was released as an album last year). It needs to be part of your record collection, and this double-disc version represents great value. Off you go, then.

--Mike Diver

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Parades + Under Giant Trees

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