IT’S TRUE THAT it’s getting harder to find albums to really get your teeth into; albums that have a sense of completeness and uniqueness and that reflect the fact that the artist has sunk loads of time (and probably someone’s money) into their project.
That doesn’t mean, however, that 2016 is creatively bankrupt, or that there’s no good music to be found. What it means is that artists are responding in spontaneous ways to the changing digital landscape, and the results may not strive for perfection so much as a sense of the moment of creation. Like any spontaneous art form then, the audience becomes an observer of that moment, rather than just bathing in a well-rehearsed derivation of that moment.
Danish group Efterklang have increasingly sought out lofty art projects that, while admirably ambitious and resulting in captivating, beautiful work, sometimes felt the need of that raw spark you get in a rehearsal situation.
The group’s debut album, ii, is both excitingly spontaneous real-time electronic performance (no laptop in sight) and at times, excruciatingly messy and musically unresolved.
The sense of playfulness bears some comparison to German band Mouse On Mars, who perhaps uniquely amongst the electronic set, found a way to combine intellect, art project, funk and fun (as well as enjoyable fiddly shit) under one umbrella. These Danes aren’t exactly conventionally funky, but they do rather get their groove on, mainly due to the enormous-sounding bass (the only conventionally performed instrument).
There’s a palpable sense of enjoyment as Liima struggle to perform with what appears to be all analogue electronic devices of various kinds, and the sounds they get from those devices are often dirty and hilarious and just plain great. And then there’s the singer, who sounds like he grew up studying every minor nuance of King Crimson’s 1980s/’90s singer Adrian Belew. One of the members also uses a device of some kind that blurts out solos that are like punk takes on Belew’s outrageous guitar mangling on tracks like ‘Elephant Talk’.
There’s not one heck of a lot of info out there about Liima, but ii, despite a tendency on some tracks to spoil things a little by adding too much stock to the soup, is a brazenly different album with lots of enjoyably WTF moments. And who can ask for more? GARY STEEL
Music = 3.5/5
Sound = 4/5
[Note: Gary Steel reserves the right to reappraise and alter his star ratings up or down at any time].