Efterklang/Fundal - Leaves – The Colour Of Falling album review

The Copenhagen band turn to opera with captivating results

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From the 10-piece experimentalism of their 2004 debut Tripper to work as a lean trio on 2012’s Piramida, Efterklang’s musical remit has remained as unpredictable as it is broad.

Despite the tedious comparisons with Sigur Rós and dumb accusations of selling out (their Modern Drift was used in an Audi ad, big deal), Casper Clausen, Mads Christian Brauer and Rasmus Stolberg remain purely progressive. Last year they went opera, giving 16 sold-out performances of Leaves… across Europe. Now officially released, it’s a proudly arty, avant-garde ‘song cycle’. Shades of Reich, Birtwhistle and Glass are here in the minimalist arrangements, post-tonal melodies and disquieting atmosphere. Co-written with Danish composer Karsten Fundal and featuring major Danish opera singers, it’s about a cult living underground as the earth above is destroyed, the titular autumnal leaves a symbol of entropy. But you don’t need that high-minded stuff to enjoy this powerful, captivating piece of sustained musical thought. You do need an open mind though, and if you quail at the very thought of modern opera – shrieking sopranos, waterphone ‘n’ all – then this meat may be too rich. But that’s exactly what it is.