There’s nothing quite like a live album to make you expect disappointment. Although Youtube has been accused of helping kill off the genre, the live album still stands as a grand testament to a band’s success. And while the majority of live albums are devoid of the magic of the moment, orchestral group Efterklang have thrown caution to the wind, joining forces with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra to attempt to preserve their live sound for all time complete with their own twist.
Performing Parades is a limited edition live album and is Efterklang’s grandest project to date as it sees Denmark’s finest performing their acclaimed 2007 album Parades in full against a backing of 50 classical musicians. For a band whose sound naturally borders on the hymnal, this project seems like a natural progression. If you can get past the elfin appearance, white circles painted on cheeks and conical hats, Efterklang prove themselves to be a tightknit and rewarding musical force. Often bombastic and buffered by the addition of the Orchestra, the album avoids the Achilles heel of most live records by managing to retain and add to the magic of Parades rather than lose any of it. The likes of -Frida Found A Friend’ are given an extra oomph but thankfully none of the whispered intimacy is lost. From the multi-layered, piano-laden -Mirador’ to the heart-pulling strings on -Him Poe Poe’ or the closing well of positivity that is -Cutting Ice to Snow’, this project shows the Danish outfit’s impressive and quietly beautiful range to full effect.
As a bonus release (and justification for re-releasing Parades) this edition is packaged with a 55-minute film of the concert directed by Benjamin Hesselholdt. Also included is a behind the scenes documentary which goes into every minute detail of the production side of the event ahead of the debut show. Although it is an interesting look at what an undertaking the performance was to all concerned, the ‘Recreating Parades’ documentary runs the risk of taking away the mystique that was so carefully created by the concert film before it.
While it’s unlikely that anyone beyond an ardent fan will want to sit through this CD and DVD combo, it encapsulates an undeniably flawless performance and acts as a testament to a meticulous and so often overlooked band. Realistically, Performing Parades is unlikely to cast the net out further for the Danes and capture a new audience, but for existing fans like this reviewer the release is simply the icing on an already delectable cake.