Efterklang - The Things We Have In Common


Efterklang - The Things We Have In Common

Efterklang The Things We Have In Common

September 27, 2024

Pre-order 'The Things We Have In Common' here.

We all have witnesses to our journey through life. Family, friends, partners or colleagues who have followed us on our way. Many of them don’t want us to change. They want us to stay the same forever, to maintain the same old position that we have always had in our community. That's not the case for Efterklang. The Danish trio has always been an open family, with room for new ideas, radical shifts and changing collaborators. A band in flux.

With their new, seventh studio album "Things We Have In Common," a circle closes. The process began with “Altid Sammen“, the band’s fifth album, and continued with their sixth, 2021’s "Windflowers." For Efterklang, these albums represented an opening up towards a simpler, more inclusive, means of expression. It feels like the band has let go: harmonic tensions are gentler, the tonal language more straightforward. “Altid Sammen” explored human community; "Windflowers" examined the relationship between human beings and nature. And "Things We Have In Common" is about collective spirituality and belonging.

There is a generosity at play on this record. This is music open to longing souls and aching beings, offering the possibility of both enlightenment and relief. This is music of arms reaching out and healing hands. The sound of giving, receiving and accepting that everything changes.

Efterklang has become an open community with three permanent members: Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen and Rasmus Stolberg. Pianist and composer Rune Mølgaard left Efterklang after the "Parades" album in 2007 but he has circled around the band, to varying degrees, since then. On the new album, he has co-written seven of the nine songs.

Mølgaard’s inspiration has been scattered over Efterklang’s music in the intervening years. A piano motif became the hit song "Modern Drift" on "Magic Chairs." It was his groundwork that underpinned "Sedna" on “Piramida", as well as "Uden ansigt" from "Together Always."

However, something else occupied Mølgaard during these years: he had fallen in love with a woman who had grown up in the Mormon Church. When visiting the church, Mølgaard found his spiritual side was awakened, thanks to the church’s messages of Eternal Family and Heavenly Parents, and its discussion of life's biggest questions. After two years attending services as part of the congregation, Mølgaard embraced the religion with body and soul.

"That it was the Mormon Church that captured Rune's searching nature was a bit of a surprise," says Casper Clausen. "I was skeptical but it was also clear that Rune felt called. Like falling in love or writing a song: it can’t be done halfway. You embrace the Mormon Church with your whole life, your family, your finances and so on. It was extremely intrusive."

Over the years, Mølgaard found it increasingly difficult to keep his faith in the Mormon Church. "It was a long and difficult struggle to find a balance between keeping a connection to the community and living as my true self. As well as the romance, the relationships and the community, I also experienced a dogmatic institution, a place where obedience to authority and doctrine ultimately outweighs people's unique sense of self; a place where people's ability to live with themselves and others, lovingly and without reservation, is of secondary importance.”

For many years, Mølgaard put these cognitive dissonances away on a mental shelf. Eventually, though, the contradictions collapsed under the weight of unanswered questions. And in 2022, he withdrew from the Mormon Church.

Efterklang had invited Mølgaard to work on "Things We Have In Common" before he broke with the Mormon Church. But after the break their mutual relationship intensified.

"In a way, there is an honesty that has been repaired. It went from something we might have avoided talking about to becoming a focal point," says Mads Brauer.

These conversations ended up colouring the new album.

"For me, there is a kind of tone throughout 'Things We Have In Common' that resonates and in a way relates to Rune's recent years. The body that just said, ‘Stop.’ The breakdown, the release," says Clausen.

The song "Shelf Break”’ directly references Mølgaard's crisis of faith in its title. In the piano's staccato pattern there is a musical embodiment of his confusion.

Mølgaard has been involved in Efterklang’s creative process on a much deeper level this time around. The band started working from his sketches and - importantly - they worked on Mølgaard’s computer instead of Mads Brauer's.

"It was important for me to step back a bit at the beginning to create room for Rune's ideas and his sonic universe," says Brauer.

Later on, a number of musicians joined the recordings. Finnish drummer Tatu Rönkkö, Venezuelan guitarist Hector Tosta and Guatemalan cellist and singer Mabe Fratti all became key collaborators. Italian award-winning mixer Francesco Donadello has also left a significant mark on the record, as has the South Denmark Girls’ Choir, who sing on "Animated Heart" and "To A New Day." Donadello and the Choir previously contributed to “Piramida".

2024 marks 20 years since Efterklang debuted with the album "Tripper." The band’s early years were characterized by an extreme tunnel vision and a radical lack of compromise. After the release of their ambitious second album "Parades" in 2007, an intense and creatively open-minded period followed, with two more album releases, collaborations with symphony orchestras, documentary films and more than 500 concerts worldwide, up till "The Last Concert" in 2014.

"These were establishing years, where dreams came true. They were liberating for me but also often frightening, due to expectations inside and outside the band," says Stolberg.

From 2014 to 2018, the band experimented. Efterklang were co-founders of The Lake Radio; they formed the quartet Liima with Tatu Rönkkö; and they co-created the opera "Leaves."

This adventurous spirit is still alive. In 2023 Efterklang traveled to North Macedonia, giving themselves just one week to put together a band of local musicians for a concert that was performed in front of the country's architecturally distinctive Monument of Freedom. This was immortalized in Andreas Johnsen's documentary "Efterklang: The Makedonium Band."

The past five years have been very different for Efterklang. "I feel a maturity in regards to understanding and gravitating towards what feels important.” says Stolberg. "Towards the end of the album process, we talked about belonging, in relation to Rune's journey, how he no longer found that feeling in the church. We talked about how Casper's sense of belonging is tied to something nomadic. And about how Mads and I associate this with our families."

But they all find a home in music. And so too does Rune Mølgaard.

"When we write and play music together, authenticity is appreciated as a core value, while also creating space for others," says Mølgaard. "In Efterklang this happens from a genuinely curious place, in a shared experience of the moment. It became a completely therapeutic process for me.”

In this process, it is important to surrender, or, as Casper Clausen puts it: "Being in situations where we don't belong anywhere or with anyone. And, at the same time, being together in that.”

From that position, you can give everything to everyone.