Review: Liima, Rich Mix.

More the music, rather than the name, of Efterklang became so synonymous with voiced-over TV advertising (for various automobiles, for the most part) that it’s little wonder the Danes felt the need to leave it behind. And, visibly rejuvenated by the freshest of starts that the Liima moniker has afforded them, they’ve been fully vindicated in their decision, tonight’s London début proper “so good,” it could be analogised to Carlsberg.

The moniker itself – the Finnish for ‘Glue’ – refers to the fact that standing alongside Casper Clausen, Mads Christian Brauer and Rasmus Stolberg is ambidextrous percussionist Tatu Rönkkö who, during a frenzied denouement to the dramatically kinetic 513, will demonstrate a commitment to the project that goes above and beyond, as his fingers begin to bleed across frantically bashed equipment; MPC samplers, and so on. This multinational Scandinavian union – which will later afford Clausen the opportunity to rib the Swedish populace that geographically separates he and the band from Rönkkö – is perhaps to be expected: Efterklang is/ was a rather singular proposition in more ways than one, given that Clausen spent the majority of his time in Berlin, rather than Copenhagen, and their fourth (and final?) album was composed on a Norwegian archipelago; meanwhile, Liima’s début – last month’s ii – was compiled, rather intriguingly, in such disparate places as “Finland, Berlin, Istanbul and Madeira.” And while Clausen will reel off this list as though reciting a press release verbatim, from a critical perspective, the incontrovertible truth is that, for a recording to have been this disparately pieced together to prove as coherent as it indeed does, is to Liima’s immense credit.

It goes without saying that there are moments, and many thereof, which closely recall latter-day Efterklang: Your Heart, which opens both the album and the evening, could quite conceivably have been skimmed off the top of Piramida; the same can almost certainly be said of the aforesaid 513 which, as Clausen sings of “hands on the wheel” in ghostly tones evocative of Arthur Russell, is as euphoric as a first, fully inebriated trundle down and around the depths of country lanes. But to reiterate, the feeling of a weight having been lifted is supremely palpable; less a case of shedding skin, and more the pastel suits that were once a defining feature of Clausen’s performance. Not only have (bow) ties been slackened therefore, but sporting an on-brand Liima T-shirt that reads: ‘Water Makes You Sick’, he, Brauer, Stolberg and Rönkkö look to be unmistakably comfortable, and perform these songs with consummate ease. Indeed, if Clausen has genuinely renounced H2O, I’ll have whatever he’s having…

That’s not to suggest these are necessarily easy, nor simple compositions, however: the appositely locomotive Trains in the Dark is equal parts Karl Bartos and Ariel Pink, Clausen toot-tooting steam train sighs on a recorder, while Brauer’s MacBook runs a programme visually reminiscent of Harry Beck’s iconic London Underground map. Glistering synth lines combine (improbably) beautifully with Stolberg’s bombastic, contorted bass on You Stayed in Touch with the Wrong Guy, while the attention deficit hyperactivity disordered Amerika – from which the “water makes you sick” lyric is lifted – marries restive arpeggi together with clanking that has little to do with either one of Efterklang or Kraftwerk, but rather more commonality with the vanguardists of the Modern Love roster. Comfortably numbing, meanwhile, are the erratic, off-kilter disco propensities of Roger Waters; contrastingly rousing, rather than carousing, is the fanfaring Russians, Clausen drawing attentions to the country’s tricolour flag that hangs from one of numerous mic stands behind which he’s stood.

So, in spite of its intrinsically contrasting tones, there is an unlikely fluidity to tonight; one which was arguably precursed by Piramida. With this said, there are infrequent instances at which their flow is slowed: written during their residency at The London EDITION, where they “felt like kings [and] could order stuff on the bed,” the a-ha-esque Life Is Dangerous gives into indolence, and sounds exactly like the kind of track that, lacking in ingenuity, discredits Clausen & Co.; the slo-mo, louche Jamaica, made in Tallinn (of course), sounds unready and underdone, and has rather too many Ariel Pinkish hues to it to emerge smelling of roses. But for so continent-trotting, cosmopolitan a project, there were always likely to be a few misgivings and, comparatively minor, Liima prove majorly impressive for the most part…