Accordions, glitches, chilly sine waves, English lyrics with a Nordic accent, percussion that sounds like a robot made out of wooden kitchen implements – when I first heard Efterklang I dismissed them as a mere tribute to Múm. But although a Greatest Hits compilation from the hopelessly inconsistent Múm might just about beat Efterklang's 2005 Tripper, Efterklang may still turn out to be the better band. And the more you listen to them, the more you realise that comparisons to Múm are nearly irrelevant. While Múm are born out of folk, Efterklang make a sort of apocalyptic orchestral pop – they're the On The Beach Boys, less intimate but more frightening. As with bands like Emery Reel, the sentiment I hear the loudest in Efterklang's music is grief over having been unable to prevent some enormity from taking place
Under Giant Trees is an appetiser for Efterklang's imminent second album, with its five songs apparently 'developed as a way for the band to add variety to their sets while touring'. Be that as it may, nothing here is actually much of a departure from Tripper: Efterklang have not gone hyphy. Instead, it's another cinematic half hour of mournful choirs, ice-crystal electronics, and epic strings (now from Sigur Rós collaborators amiina), a collision reminiscent often of Bjork's Homogenic, which is just what I was hoping for. (Admittedly there are a few new sounds, including a koto, some proper shouting, and – strangely sad and evocative – a clipped sample of what sounds like lift mechanics grinding away.) Efterklang are that rare thing: deeply experimental and deeply moving at the same time. And what most stands out about these songs is their structural complexity: jump through them thirty seconds at a time, and you'll find something different every time you land. Like Sonic Youth songs – or, indeed, like classical music, which is probably the more apt comparison – there aren't really any obvious verses or choruses, just an entrancing, succession of sections and ideas. I'm not sure there's anything on Under Giant Trees to equal, say, Monopolist from Tripper, but it should be enough to get you very excited about the next LP.
Out now on Leaf