“We have waited a while…still it’ll take us some time” begins “Meet and Greet.” Vocal harmonies ring out to the pulsing beat of a delayed floor tom. A guitar wakes up the reeds. The subtle organic percussion of handclaps punctuates the amplified air, the music becoming a distinct human synthesis. This is a pop song. This is Slaraffenland. Based in Denmark, they embrace the art of shape, of space, and of slow gratification, hand-carving their sound with the diligence and artistry often associated with their nation’s design heritage. This year, Slaraffenland reintroduces themselves with the magnificent release of We’re on Your Side. The new LP and CD from Hometapes connects the points between stage and studio — bringing Slaraffenland’s virtuosic musicianship, pop sensibility, emotional directness, compositional experimentalism, and the road-proven energy of their live performance into absolute, impeccable, and addictive focus. This is the record Slaraffenland fans have been waiting for — and the sound, remarkably accessible, that should summon thousands more.
Download: Slaraffenland — “Meet and Greet”
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Slaraffenland began as a whisper across the American landscape – a mysterious name, a menagerie of instruments, and the frontier of self-booked tours were the calling card this five-piece from Copenhagen. In what was like a reunion of long lost friends, Slaraffenland joined Hometapes in 2006, making their national debut at CMJ that year. Their groundbreaking album Private Cinema followed in 2007, lighting up the eyes of music listeners everywhere, Pitchfork declaring, “The album as a whole is a brave perambulation, drawing on the acidic thunderstorms and gorgeous lullabies” and Stereogum deeming Slaraffenland a “band to watch,” placing them alongside the likes of Vampire Weekend, Cold War Kids, and My Brightest Diamond on their curated tribute to Radiohead tribute, OKX). Driven by a choreographed concept (an abstracted map of the compositions hung on the recording studio door), the band’s first venture into vocal accompaniment (their first two self-released records were instrumental), and album packaging dreamed up by the world-famous Friends With You, Private Cinema was a bold statement. However, that was just the beginning.
“People at our shows often tell us that they really liked our music, though they’ve never heard anything like it before. That’s the greatest compliment.” – Slaraffenland’s Christian TaagehÃ¸j
The waves created by Private Cinema washed ashore in both the US and Europe, with Slaraffenland appearing at landmark festivals Roskilde, SPOT and SXSW in the following months. The year 2008 was highlighted by Slaraffenland’s US tour with countrymen/friends/collaborators Efterklang and the release of the Sunshine EP, a bona fide souvenir of their exuberant and prodigious live performances (see Brooklyn Vegan for a recount of their knockout Knitting Factory show in NY) and a sneak peek into the future of Slaraffenland — and specifically, We’re on Your Side. “There is no doubt that the tours we’ve done in the US have made us a better band,” says Slaraffenland’s Mike TaagehÃ¸j. Limited to short tours in their home country, the American club scene has definitely played the role of the “sixth man” in the growth of Slaraffenland, who debuted songs from “We’re on Your Side” at their SXSW performances this year.
Conceived in 2002, Slaraffenland (translated: the land of milk and honey) is the work and art of Christian TaagehÃ¸j, Mike TaagehÃ¸j, BjÃ¸rn HeebÃ¸ll, Niklas Antonson, and Jeppe Skjold. These five members (a few of them childhood friends, and Mike and Christian are near-identical twins) were united by both a love of music and a scholastic interest in its techniques. Among them are three fathers, teachers, and players knit into the music scene in sonically-vibrant Denmark. Slaraffenland singlehandedly curated and hosted an event at SXSW 2009 called “Danish Dynamite,” an outdoor party featuring the likes of Efterklang, Murder, and the Choir of Young Believers. They returned home to hammers and saws, breaking ground on their own rehab project of turning an old factory building into a studio. The racket was recently interrupted by the news that the Danish Arts Council awarded five Danish bands generous grants to continue their work. Among them: Slaraffenland.
Slaraffenland will also join Akron/Family and Jeffrey Lewis for a number of U.S. tour dates this fall:
9/14/09 Hudson, NY @ Jasonâ€™s Upstairs
9/15/09 Williamsport, PA @ Site: B
9/16/09 Ithaca, NY @ Castaways
9/17/09 Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place
9/19/09 Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
9/20/09 Louisville, KY @ 21C Museum Atrium Gallery
9/22/09 New York, NY @ venue TBA*
We’re on Your Side is available September 15th from Hometapes. Deluxe packaging featuring the art of Cody Hudson (Chicago-based proprietor of Struggle Inc.) will accompany the vinyl LP and compact disc release. More news coming soon, as well, regarding a recent collaboration between filmmaker Vincent Moon (of Take Away Show and The National/Arcade Fire/R.E.M documentary fame) and Slaraffenland, set to music from We’re on Your Side and filmed in Copenhagen.
Slaraffenland – We’re on Your Side
01 Long Gone
02 Meet And Greet
03 Too Late To Think
04 Stars And Smiles
05 The Right Place
07 Falling Out
09 Open Your Eyes
â€œSlaraffenland…continues to dazzle as they sharpen a musical style that fits the broad term of noise pop. They operate off the aesthetics of Brian Eno and Albert Ayler, displaying remarkable control and precision within guitar-plus-electronics soundscapes until they reach a very specific point at which time free improvisation takes over. Despite having only five members, they play like a 10-piece as musicians double on sax, trombone, clarinet, melodica and flute…â€ Phil Gallo – Variety