With each release that I've heard from the group, it seems that Efterklang has gotten just a little bit better. Their debut Springer EP had some decent moments but never really broke any new ground, while their follow-up full-length Tripper held a little bit more promise, bursting forth with some truly unique sounds in places. Released in advance of a forthcoming EP, the Under Giant Trees EP is another small step for the group, touching on their past sound while moving in a much more full and realized direction at the same time.
With five tracks running almost a half hour in length, there's a great deal of material on this release, and a good amount of variety in general. "Falling Horses" opens things with a slow string procession before a quiet chorus blends in with some horns and programmed beats. It reaches a nice crescendo about halfway through, then a long coda helps melt away layer after layer in reaching a conclusion. "Himmelbjerget" follows, and takes a similarly long-winded route in moving between quiet vocal and string sections, skittering beats, and another couple peaks with horns, crashing drums, and vocal choirs.
The next couple tracks on the EP take things down a bit, and "Hands Playing Butterfly" is a bit of a soft segue, with nothing more than filtered electronics, sad strings, and a reflective piano refrain. Meanwhile, "Towards The Bare Hill" takes only three minutes to climb from micro-sampled tones and clipped strings into a soaring, but somewhat unfocused horn and beats ending.
Fortunately, "Jojo" closes things out on a strong note, with perhaps the best song on the entire release. With multiple layers of overlapping, filtered guitars, chimes, and harp, the song just keeps piling on elements (including vocals, strings, drums, and horns) until the track reaches a glorious crescendo of the likes that they've never quite pulled off before. Considering the small steps they've made from release to release, it seems that they very well may be getting near creating something truly mind-blowing, which bodes well for their next album. Until that arrives, though, Under The Giant Trees is certainly a solid little release. With lovely artwork and a limited number being released, it's probably worth hunting down.