"Ok, now you try!" Slaraffenland were teaching the audience how to pronounce their name, which is Danish for "the land of milk and honey." It’s actually a little easier than it looks: "slah-rah-fen-land," with the emphasis on the second syllable.
Slaraffenland are probably just as easy to enjoy as they are to pronounce. Which is to say imposing until you get the hang of it. Very little of their music follows pop conventions, but there is melody and beauty if you stop waiting for the chorus and just let the music wash over you.
Live, Slaraffenland are pretty fascinating to watch, as all the members sing and play at least two instruments… often within the same song. The guitarist played the oboe; the percussionist played a variety of woodwinds; the bassist also played flute; and the keyboardist / sampler was often seen with a trombone. I’m sure the drummer also was a multi-instrumentalist but he was absent at Knitting Factory — a new father, he had to leave the tour early for daddy duty.
Losing your drummer might seem like a dealbreaker to most groups but Slaraffenland didn’t seem to phased by it. There is a lot of live sampling going on in their show — many songs started with everyone playing horns which would become a backing loop — so live percussion blended with canned bits, and for a couple songs they were aided by tourmates Efterklang’s drummer.
While not quite sold out, Knitting Factory was full with an enthusiastic and boisterous crowd. Slaraffenland seemed psyched too, but in that Danish way that makes exclamations like "we love you!" (which I’m sure was genuine) sound like maybe they’re being ironic.
This was actually a Danish double-header with similarly-minded, though larger in numbers, Efterklang, which they dubbed the Danish Dynamite Tour. I must admit they were a little too affected for my tastes, both musically (a lot more precious and grandiose) and visually (they band wore turn-of-the-century garb, including those weird golf/riding pants that are baggy at the thigh and tight through the calf).
There are still a few dates left on the Danish Dynamite Tour, worth checking out if it come near you:
May 29 TT the Bears | Boston, Massachusetts
May 30 Zoobizarre | Montreal
May 31 El Mocambo | Toronto
Jun 2 Empty Bottle | Chicago, Illinois
Jun 3 Record Bar | Kansas City, Montana