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Danish Dynamite Live at Sono Festival by Slaraffenklang

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Reviewed on 3rd March 2009.


Danish Dynamite Live at Sono Festival

By Slaraffenklang

Fellow Danes Slaraffenland and Efterklang forming a supergroup for a one-off 'jam session' performance to be recorded live: the concept alone of this E.P is nothing short of inspired, but its often beautiful delicacy of execution and musically innovative arrangements and approaches, are of equal testament to their creative musicianship as to their practical and social abilities. The vibrant musical interactions suggest an enviable group cohesion - a very impressive dynamic to achieve on an off-the-cuff collaboration EP.

The resulting hybrid of each band's style; Efterklang's arguably more organic sound and almost synaesthetic soundscape-painting, with Slaraffenland's generally more unusual, instrumental-colouring-as-commodity approach, is surprisingly complementary.

Efterklang's 'Cutting Ice To Snow' stays fairly true to its original recording's instrumentation and structure, but the sections of extended counterpoint are great examples of the two bands' idioms flowing together successfully, where slightly distorted guitars and more opaque vocals blend well with the song's more inherently pastel sounds. Harmonically, too, the song is shaded and lit differently, with altered chord voicings and slightly transformed progressions.

'Polaroids,' the first of the two Slaraffenland-penned inclusions, has one of the EP's brightest flashes of brilliance in its imaginative setting of the introduction, where guitar and synth parts are replaced by close vocal harmonies, a very typically Efterklang focus on voice as instrument.

Meanwhile, the regular 'Rock' syncopations and driving rhythm section of Slaraffenland, eventually becomes this version's defining stamp.

Returning to another Efterklang tune, 'Echo Wave,' shows very few signs of the Slaraffenland influence. Disappointingly, here it's only the slightly crunchier guitar sound which is incorporated and profited from. Beyond this, Efterklang phrases are in total dominance. Rhythmically, the expected lightly springing and asymmetrical offbeats are unchanged, and Efterklang-ian melody and harmony are preserved immaculately. It is an achingly beautiful rendition, but lacks the convincing synthesis of both bands' styles of the two previous tracks.

The closer is provided by Slaraffenland, and 'You Win' makes a fittingly raucous, jam band-spirited conclusion. The strident hooks and unashamedly punk chorus and riff stylings are saved from predictability by some elegant counter-phrases, dexterous drum fills, expansive noodling and tangible enthusiasm. It doesn't reach the same unrestrained, fluid majesty of the three previous tracks until the busy, rasping polyphony has burned itself out, but when it does finally appear, the contrast is all the more cathartic.

Astounding turns of artistic flair and resourcefulness seem to come easily to both Slaraffenland and Efterklang. Even the simply re-quoted and untouched sections from both of their live catalogues which are inserted into the EP are testament to their respective brilliance, but when the Slaraffenklang union is at is most fruitful on 'Cutting Ice To Snow' and 'Polaroids,' their musicality is stated so starkly and unequivocally that there's little you can do to not get carried away.



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