One week today long-time DiS favourites Efterklang release their new record, Piramida, through 4AD. It’s not just any old record, though. Of course, it’s an Efterklang record and you get everything you’d normally get with one of those anyway. But this time Rasmus, Casper and Mads went to the abandoned mining town of Pyramiden in Spitsbergen, part of the Svalbard Archipelago in the Arctic.
They were there for 9 days, exploring, running around recording sounds and making some of their own – including on an oil drum they affectionately named Miss Piggy and on the world’s northernmost grand piano. They ended up with over 1000 recordings of which some were adapted and morphed to make the skeletons of various tracks, whilst embellishing numerous others. The end product is quite an album, even without the backdrop of their incredible trek to the Norwegian arctic.
Anyway, to cut to the chase, you can stream the entire record below, in that embedded widget to see what (at least I think) the fuss is all about. You can also read an extract of the transcript from our upcoming interview with bassist Rasmus Stolberg, which will be published in the very near future. It’s just a taster, though.
Sadly we have had to take the stream down now. Here's the opening track:
DiS: Where did the idea to do all of this come from?
Rasmus Stolberg: Soon after we finished Magic Chairs we started talking about how to make the next album and one of the ideas we kept going back to was this idea of connecting the album to some kind of location. We had different ideas of how we could do that. Then this Swedish film director e-mails saying “I’d love to do a music video with you guys and I love this song of yours and check out the photos of this place up here in the arctic, I was thinking we could go up there”. Then we looked and the photos and was like “wow! This is way too good for a music video”. So we just connected with it.
This idea we had beforehand was that this is the perfect place to do it. Then we went online to start to dig out material and read about this place, and then we found out the world’s northernmost grand piano stands in this town. Then it became this thing we just had to do. We got this idea to go there and then we couldn’t leave the idea again. And that was a year and a half before we actually went. It took us a very long time to get up there and you need permission because it’s still owned by this Russian state-owned company because the whole city was built to service the mine.
We just couldn’t get permission and couldn’t get in contact we anyone and we realised that “we had to do this”, because it wasn’t going to work out. We started to plan where we could go and do something similar and we couldn’t come up with it. It was so focused that it had to be that place.
DiS: Did you do much research before heading out there?
RS: We were reading a lot about it – we knew a lot about what buildings were up there…we knew there was a hospital, we knew there was a swimming pool, we knew there was a power plant, we knew that they had this piano in the concert hall. We had seen photos of it so we had ideas of how it would be and we pictured what kind of sounds we could get from certain places. The overall idea we had before going there was to start totally from scratch. We didn’t pre compose anything for it, so the idea was that when the three of us arrive in Pyramida then that would be day one for all of us.
DiS: Obviously there’s always something intriguing about a forgotten place and so on. What were your first emotions on arriving?
RS: Because we had worked for so long and had this idea to go there for so long, I think I was maybe overly excited. The first 2 days Mads got sick because the boat we got to the place was just insane. It took three hours and we had these waves splashing across. We got soaked. We were wearing these survival suits…we had our gloves and then they asked us to put our arms into these big, big supergloves…I’ve never seen anything like it. That was day one and he was sick for 2 days, so Casper and I spent the first two days running around excitedly trying to discover the place. I have to say also that one of the feelings was after all that…when we finally got there there was a few moments of thinking “what the hell are we doing?! Why the fuck are we in the arctic?! What’s this stupid idea?”…so you lose perspective.