Sometimes there’s nothing better than finding that perfect daydream record. That record you put on, throw on some headphones, and then just close your eyes for the duration and let your mind wander. Or that album you throw on in the car for that wind in your hair and sun in your rear view road trip. That album that soundtracks both conversations and bouts of gazing towards the horizon. Papir’s guitar virtuoso Nicklas Sorensen has given us our next great daydream record, the appropriately titled Solo. His first album under his own name, Sorensen has not wasted a single second on this 6-track LP.
Letting his guitar do the talking, Solo is an instrumental affair that moves effortlessly from the Krautrock-ish opener “Solo1” to the atmospheric and dreamy “Solo2” without breaking a sweat. This record has the smooth sheen of NEU! in its bubbling guitar lines and squiggling atmospheric noises that erupt from the darkness. The album was produced by Causa Sui guitarist and veritable studio wizard Jonas Munk, and if you’ve heard Munk’s solo record Pan, then some of the finer aural details and headphone candy will come as a welcome surprise. But for the most part Munk is here strictly to make Sorensen’s guitar shine and his melodies to light the way.
With the six songs titled “Solo1” thru “Solo6”, you get the feel of a musical journey. Each track has its own vibe and story to tell. There’s not the bombast and explosive rock growl of Sorensen’s main gig Papir, but that’s not a bad thing. Solo allows us to hear a different side of Nicklas Sorensen’s playing and compositional ability. There’s a playfulness to a track like “Solo3” that you just couldn’t get with amps turned up to 11. It almost has a Steve Reich vibe to the phasing and layering of guitar and what sounds like synth coming out of the distant horizon. It’s complex, yet simple enough to zone out to with a beer(or whatever.) “Solo4” in some ways reminds me of old Joe Satriani, like something off Not Of This Earth. It’s more about tone, mood, and atmosphere rather than impressing one with a catchy riff or slinky guitar lines. Backwards guitar come in and out as a clean guitar plays a pulsating line over and over. The song fades into the ether as guitar comes in and out of the mix over a sustaining synth line. “Solo5” feels like some of those lesser known gems in the heyday of Shrapnel Records in the 80s. A time when in the midst of teased hair and pointy, hot pink Ibanez guitars there were a few guys out there still putting soulful, intricate, and interesting guitar records out. Guys like Michael Lee Firkins, Eric Johnson, and Steve Morse were displaying their guitar chops in unique and soulful ways, as opposed to just wanking it as fast as they could and waiting for that Ernie Ball or Jackson Guitars endorsement. But I digress. “Solo6” is the album closer and the epic heart of the album. Just over 12 minutes long, “Solo6” takes its time getting to where it’s headed. Simple percussion and a meditative guitar line act as a guide so the song can dive into more atmosphere and hallucinogenic soundscapes. There’s elements of both space and earth here. An aural space where the past, present, and future converge. A slow and meticulous journey into nothingness that is glorious at every step.
Solo is that daydream record you’ve been waiting for, and Nicklas Sorensen has made the first great guitar record of the year.
8.2 out of 10