One of the more impressive underhyped albums of 2007 was Slaraffenland’s Private Cinema, a dark and epic post-rock album that simultaneously showed off the band’s talent and ambition in one fell swoop. In fact, it was such a monstrous, powerful beast of a record, I’m not sure I’ve entirely digested it all at this point, but going back and listening piece by piece won’t do. Private Cinema is meant to be heard as a solid whole, an overarching piece of music that stuns and awes, as much as it rocks. And yet, that album only shows one side of the Danish band’s personality.
On their new Sunshine EP, Slaraffenland shows off entirely different aspects of their sound, offering up five self-contained and easily digestible tracks, including two covers. Bear in mind that this doesn’t mean the band has pared down their epic approach or reined in their expansiveness. They’ve merely managed to compress their heroics into a bite-sized package, and makes for a listen every bit as exhilarating as their prior full-length effort, just a bit more versatile for different listening environments.
Leadoff track “I’m a Machine” builds slowly, with horns and muted guitars swirling before stomping into an Akron/Family-style psych-folk opus. It’s a magnificent song, even single worthy, providing a stark contrast to the band’s darker material of yore. “The Trick” is similar, if a bit more expansive, with a soaring sound. While it’s not too far removed from the material on Private Cinema, it’s a bit, well, sunnier. It has a slightly optimistic tone, and isn’t enveloped in doom like many of their other tracks (not that that isn’t awesome, mind you). Where the EP starts to get really intriguing, however, is track three, a cover of A-Ha’s “Take On Me” which takes the original’s melody and reconfigures it into a catchy but experimental play on the ’80s hit. It’s quite a thing to behold, and practically the definition of what a cover should be—recognizable, yet made new by an innovative approach. Similarly, the band’s cover of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” is both truly bizarre and extremely cool.
Sunshine reveals a slightly more upbeat, more playful Slaraffenland, though with as much ambition and vision as the band heard on Private Cinema. As the EP’s press release states, the EP provides a preview of sorts for Slaraffenland’s upcoming 2009 release, which is an exciting tease indeed. Private Cinema was as awesome an introduction as one could get, but listeners could very well be treated to a whole new plane of sonic mischief.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.