Efterklang’s Casper Clausen steps out on his own on the dreamy Better Way | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Efterklang’s Casper Clausen steps out on his own on the dreamy Better Way 

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click to enlarge Casper Clausen

Casper Clausen

Hanna Sturm

Danish-born musician Casper Clausen is best known for fronting the long-running Efterklang, which plays exploratory and often ornate electro-infused indie rock, and for performing with that group’s synth-heavy and relatively spontaneous sister project, Liima. This year, for the first time since he began making music as a teen, he’s stepped out from a collaborative setting. His debut solo release, Better Way, was recorded in his home studio in Lisbon and mixed by Peter Kember (aka Sonic Boom), and it merges indie rock and avant-pop with various electronic fusions and dreamy experiments—Clausen’s songs tap into intimate moments in turbulent times and dare to imagine a day to come when hardships and heartbreak will recede into memory. Even “Dark Heart,” which hints at a downward spiral into depression, dilutes its sorrow by conjuring dreamy images of flickering celluloid and almost idyllic isolation. Clausen’s taste for patchwork styles is evident right from the album’s opening track, “Used to Think,” which starts with bright, Krautrock-flavored electronic beats that he drops into an easygoing indie-pop melody. The mood never stays stable for long: on “Snow White,” where Clausen croons about a lover’s suspected betrayal, the disjointed, smoky textures and jazzy swing recall the spooky, tantalizing feel of 90s downtempo, while the uplifting dream pop of “Little Words” feels like it’s one ad placement or viral TikTok away from becoming a huge hit. If that happens, Clausen might want to follow up with the steamy, dance-floor-ready “8 Bit Human,” which joins pulsing kaleidoscopic pop to electronic experimentalism. He flips the page once again on the closer, “Ocean Wave,” a reflective track inspired by his life in Lisbon and the motion of the river outside his studio windows. It drifts along peacefully, with sparkling synths adding touches of light—a fine way to move into the future.   v

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