Efterklang & Northern Sinfonia play ‘PIRAMIDA’ @ The Dome, Brighton 28.10.12

Having teamed up with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra to magically rework Parades, Efterklang are at it again in with the superb Northern Sinfonia in a joyous reimagining of their latest album Piramida – inspired by ambient recordings from an abandoned Russian settlement on the Arctic island of Svalbard.

Oct 28th, 2012 at The Dome, Brighton / By Norman Miller
Efterklang & Northern Sinfonia play ‘PIRAMIDA’ @ The Dome, Brighton 28.10.12 The mood is buoyant in a solidly full Brighton Dome despite the downbeat nature of John Grant's first half support, since he's a man who makes bathos sound beautiful. A roar greets the orchestra and backing singers, followed by Casper Clausen, Mads Brauer and Rasmus Stolberg shambling on stage as whinnying strings and tremulous harmonies introduce the opening ‘Hollow Mountain’.

It's clear from the start that Piramida's songs are hugely enriched by an orchestra, with fantastic arrangements by the unsung heroes of the hour, Karsten Fundal and Missy Mazzoli. The sparse polar chill of the album versions gives way to songs stretching luxuriously on waves of strings, fantastic brass, lovely percussion and lush harmonies. Singer Caspar Clausen – nattily sporting a bow-tie to chime with his new upmarket playmates - is clearly thrilled with his new musical toy, grinning throughout as he helps conduct the orchestra with impromptu waves of his hand, when not in sweet croon mode.

‘Apples’ is a glorious early highlight fusing jaunty percussion with sweeping brass and strings. ‘Sedna’ is all bittersweet prettiness, while dancing strings lift ‘Told To Be Fine’. A beautifully paced ‘The Living Layer’ raises the bar again, with an extended instrumental section during which Clausen goes and sits quietly in the middle of the orchestra, rapt with wonder. Brass and bass lines pick up the pace nicely for ‘Ghosts’, followed by a brilliant ‘Black Summer’ building from slowburn percussion and strings to a stirring brass climax.

The quality dips a little, almost inevitably, with ‘Between The Walls’, before a fine version of ‘So’, with Clausen's vocal soaring over staccato brass and strings. ‘Monument’ is a brilliant, poignant finale as b/w films of the harsh Svalbard ice-caps flickers behind the players.

The band seem genuinely taken aback by the standing ovation, rewarding the crowd with encores of ‘Monopolist’ where Clausen's vocals floats over strings and delicate keyboard. ‘Modern Drift’ brings things to a sweetly harmonious conclusion. Please please release this, guys. Tak!