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Concerts à emporter

Slaraffenland

The bar was incredible from the outside—the Jernbanecafeen, a relic of the bygone 20th century, a cheap concert venue with dying Danish melodies played live. The perfect way to end our musical day, in warm surroundings and on the last leg of a well-planned day trip. We went in first to stall the meager crowd, allowing the local singer the ten-minute break that he needed, and the tension was palpable. Aarhus, Denmark’s second city, had just had its local soccer team slapped around, and five unfortunate young fans took refuge in the cafe to drown their sorrows in alcohol and angry songs. The fight happened not far away and the musicians didn’t get too involved, but the wrathful hymns stayed shattered behind the choir of our five Danish musicians and their guests. Just one hitch, then the day ended in a soft landing : the 10th song completed and filed away in an environment of quintessentially Scandinavian mellowness.

I met Slaraffenland about a year and a half ago, shortly after discovering their album Private Cinema in 2007. I wanted to do something with them, and ran into them the first time at SXSW in 2008 to do a shoot for a different (and pretty crappy) website ; we had them participate in a lovely musical piece with some of our other favorites, Stars Like Fleas. Our paths crossed again this year at SXSW, during a riskier musical and cinematographic attempt–kind of a super lo-fi mini Russian Ark. (Don’t miss the last five minutes—it’s worth waiting for.) They were two little experiences of musical cinema that led the Temporary Copenhagen/ Temporary Slaraffenland project, which was recorded in May 2009 in the Danish capital over the course of several days.

These three videos are taken from a 40-minute-long film which will be online this week, on Temporary Slaraffenland. The video was filmed somewhat along the lines of Beirut’s beautiful Flying Club Cup project—the goal being to simply extend a Take-Away Show session across an entire day (see more) and play all the songs off of a new album before its release, all in the places that inspired the musicians. To give an alternative version of the material, where the idea of perfection and final recording slips even farther away. To preserve the fleeting moments and the temporary spaces.

The first video here is also probably my favorite of the bunch—a perfect choreography, in the Copenhagen conservatory, which recalls the rhythm of Sigur Ros’s Take-Away Show. Each song that day was accompanied by guests, giving each performance its unique edge—here, notably, provided by Caecilie Trier on the cello. (You should be hearing about her next year through her project Chimes and Bells, or via her friend’s band, Choir of Young Believers.)

The week spent in Copenhagen was full of surprising meetings and discoveries, but none as much as Valby Vokalgrubbe, Anja Jacobsen’s experimental vocal ensemble—with whom I had recorded the unprecedented and mystical Mana Mana, which remains, at the moment, their only recording. They participate here in « The Right Place » in a weird open stage in the center of the town.

I had gone in search of this « new » Danish scene, mostly for the traces of Efterklang and Slaraffenland, wanting to document–in my own experimental way–the local creation. I came away, though, moved more by the openness of spirit than by the community of all these groups. I drew enough material to re-launch an old project, the one in Temporary Areas—and gained inspiration in how to explore the world through recording equipment, and what impact a camera can have in the course of events. Experimenting more than « documenting » in an objective sense. The uncut version will be online soon on Temporary Copenhagen, but for now take advantage of the joy transported by Slaraffenland and the Danish atmosphere—and the beautiful women, of course.

-Vincent Moon / Translated by Caitlin Caven