Papir : V

The Danish trio Papir have always sounded much larger than you’d expect three guys to sound. With just the guitar/bass/drums rock trio standard set up, these guys make a mountain of sound. At times brash and fuzz-covered, other times dreamy and atmospheric, Nicklas Sørensen, Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen, and Christian Becher Clausen cover terrain as diverse as psych rock, post-rock, and even moments veering on progressive. Their tenure with El Paraiso Records gave our ears classics like Stundum, IIIIV , and their explosive Live At Roadburn that showed they are a force to be reckoned with live. These records set the stage for the trio from Copenhagen to seriously blow minds(and eardrums) for years to come.

Papir have returned from a three year hiatus with a brand new album and a brand new record label. Papir’s V is everything you’d hope from them and more. A double LP that spans over 90 minutes, V is a heady, expansive journey into the cosmos and back. Grab some headphones and a couple beers and get set to take flight.

Papir’s move from the mighty El Paraiso Records to Stickman Records has done nothing to quell the trio’s heady, hazy musical atmospherics. The record is seven songs clocking in over 90 minutes and is easily their most epic set yet. This is their most consistently dreamy collection of songs as well. At times there’s moments of Krautrock repetition(“V.II”), grand moments of blissed-out psychedelia(“V.III”), and epic musical statements(“V.VII”), but nothing ever gets into overdrive here. There are a few moments where Sørensen pushes his amps into overdrive territory, but for the most part this is a groove-driven affair. The rhythm section of Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen and Christian Becher Clausen lay down some solid groove foundations which allow the guitars to float above the proceedings and go where they may.

That’s not to say this isn’t a heavy record.

On the contrary, this album is like looking into some unknown abyss. It’s a beautiful and overwhelming experience. There are moments when everything melts together into one cavernous sound, as if the band are performing in a black hole. I liken it to my experience with vast, open spaces; back when I used to ride rollercoasters and would often go to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio for the non-pharmaceutical thrills. Sitting amidst the gray, ominous waters of Lake Erie, those slow crawls up that first great hill on the Magnum XL-200 were both exhilarating and horrifying. Clear days were okay, but overcast days the lake looked like this endless expanse that would devour you whole in an instant. And at night, the giant ferris wheel sat on what seemed to be the edge of the world. Lights flickered as you were cast up into the night sky to look over into Lake Erie’s beckoning calls. V has moments of that overwhelming vastness.

“V.III” starts out like some great post-rock anthem and then seems to slowly dissipate into that black abyss. “V.IV” is reminiscent of the lighter moments of Stundum. It feels like an early morning buzz as the crisp air hits your lungs and the day unfolds before your eyes. There’s a jazz quality to the drumming here. It’s like Tony Williams getting weird with NEU! in 1973. Opener “V.I” is like a hand guiding you through a technicolor maze. It’s breezy and takes flight many times, with the guitars getting nice and gritty at moments. Nicklas Sørensen seems to be channeling the great Michael Rother at times with his fluid guitar notes. This really is the perfect opener for an epic album like this.

Papir have never come across as a band that feels they need to rush through a song. They start a musical journey and explore like free jazz pioneers did before them. Their music is the wandering kind. You put on headphones, drop the needle, and just go where the music takes you. V is their most expansive set yet, giving us seven worlds to explore and get lost in. And they are beautiful worlds, indeed.

8.4 out of 10

 

Nine Inch Nails : Add Violence EP

Say what you will about Trent Reznor, but the guy over the last four years has been in constant creative motion. Nine Inch Nails’ 2013 return with Hesitation Marks was met with equal parts cheers and jeers. Cheers for a guy coming out of a 4 year NIN shutdown to a solid return to form. Jeers for folks that felt he was softening and repeating old motifs. Me? I liked the album. He never came across to me as some poet laureate, so I could forgive the average in the lyrics department. But his compositional, arranging, and studio skills were as tight as ever. From there he scores three films with Atticus Ross(Gone Girl(2014), Before The Flood(2016), Patriot’s Day(2016)), becomes some mogul/music wizard dujour at Beats and helped curate Apple Music, and at the end of 2016 he and Ross put out the NIN EP Not The Actual Events. The latter was released with the promise of two more EPs to follow later in 2017, making it a trilogy of sorts. That EP was promising, with some biting NIN aggression and experimental twists and turns that while wasn’t mind blowing was a welcome addition to the NIN discography(while wetting the appetites of NIN fans everywhere.)

We’re in the middle of 2017 and that second EP has arrived. Add Violence dials down the angst and turns up the oscillation a bit. It feels better conceived and fluid than its predecessor, while still retaining the wily spirit of classic NIN.

Opening track “Less Than” gets all early 80s bouncy synth with the help of some catchy keyboard lines and synsonic-sounding drums. It’s like Reznor dropped the needle on Black Celebration and Power, Corruption & Lies and got heavy-handed with the Kahlua he was pouring into his protein shakes. This is the loosest and most fun NIN has sounded since Year Zero. “The Lovers” is the best track on here. It’s dark, brooding, and yes, sexy. Jittery rhythms, Pong-like synth notes, and menacing piano zig zag through the mix as Reznor turns up the longing in his vocal spots. This track feels like the very best of Reznor and Ross’ creative power. It builds; ascending then descending like a menacing tower on the horizon. I imagine playing Tetris on a grainy black and white TV with this as the soundtrack. Odd, but fitting. “This Isn’t The Place” has an electronic swing to it. It’s decent, but seems to meander a bit too long. “Not Anymore” sounds like a cross between Suicide and the Art of Noise, but with Reznor ad-libbing lyrics over a distorted bass line. The song goes into a frenzied explosion of fuzz in the chorus. “The Background World” moves along for nearly 12 minutes. First opening with a smooth, familiar groove that you easily fall into. Soon enough you notice something becomes slightly off. A skip in the song. As the track moves along it slowly falls into a deep distortion as that skip becomes more prominent. The track falls into an abyss of white noise before falling into some other dimension.

Add Violence resonates more than its predecessor. It feels more cohesive, like Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross sat down and mapped out some songs with a sonic thru-line. They kept it more of a blippy, electronic affair with a healthy dose of their rich atmosphere. The result is a sweet shot of electronic urgency.

7.9 out of 10

 

 

New Track : Papir’s “V.I” Is As Epic As It Gets

So I’ve heard the new Papir record V that is being released on August 18th, 2017. I’ve swam in its epic daydreams put to music. I have let the psychedelic thunder created by the Danish trio knock my eardrums around and I’ve contemplated the universe and our place in it as the 7 epic tracks spin over the course of 90+ minutes(94 minutes to be exact) and I’m here to say that…I’ll have much more to say very soon.

For now I will leave you with a few off the cuff remarks about the first track entitled “V.I”.

It’s nearly 13 minutes of atmospheric beauty. It never becomes bombastic, crashing waves that pummel the soul. It’s more like an endless horizon that continuously grows into something more far reaching and beautiful. Nicklas Sørensen, Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen, and Christian Becher Clausen are no strangers to epic album experiences. Each time out with them their albums, including Stundum, III, and IV, Papir extend their sonic reach even further into the great, existential divide. With the release of V, and in particular “V.I” they seem to have topped even their very best.

Sørensen puts his guitar wizardry to exquisite work, creating almost jazz-toned guitar lines. They don’t jump out of the speakers and slap you into submission, more so they beckon you into the warm and sunny vibe of the track. With a rhythm section like Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen and Christian Becher Clausen, Sørensen has the foundation to get absolutely orbital with his guitar approach, though things remain more grounded on “V.I”. There’s an airy, organic vibe here that feels mildly psychedelic, mildly post-rock, but very much all Papir.

Head over to The Obelisk and check out track, and read an amazing review of V by JJ Koczan, aka H.P. Taskmaster. A full review right here at JHubner73 will be coming soon. Until then, head over to Stickman Records and preorder the double vinyl of V and make your soul happy.

Joel Jerome : Cosmic Bear Jamboree

Listening to Joel Jerome’s new album you can’t help but get swept up in the guy’s joy for music making. There’s a feeling of a guy getting completely lost in his own little musical world. Jerome is an L.A.-based producer who’s studio has welcomed some of indie rock’s most up-and-coming artists. He’s worked hand-in-hand with labels like Burger, Lollipop, and Manimal Records. This time, though, Jerome is working on himself. The result is Cosmic Bear Jamboree, a full-length that has enough lo-fi grit, AM-radio nostalgia, and Stones-y twang to satisfy the most ardent indie rock fan.

Upon first spinning Cosmic Bear Jamboree I’m reminded of another monster of the indie/lo-fi music scene. Jerome seems to have tapped into Kelly Stoltz territory here, writing tunes that evoke a 70s childhood, had or imagined. A time when Gilbert O’ Sullivan played along side the radio dial with The Raspberries and David Bowie. He’s also vibing artists like Ty Segall(“Complicated Man”), Dr. Dog(“Cosmic Dancer”), Jim Noir(“I Was On Acid”), and even touches of Neil Young(“I Don’t Want To Die”).

But that’s not to say Jerome is just aping other artists. He’s not. He wears his influences proudly on his sleeve but puts them through a very unique southern California filter that’s equal parts sun-soaked and THC-enhanced. “You Are So Bad”, with its Bad Stone Phaser-flavored guitar opens the track with a space-y vibe which leads into an ethereal chorus that goes straight into the stratosphere. “Tell Me Things” shows off Jerome’s impressive guitar chops and a knack for twang-y, psychedelic pop that sounds baked in the southern L.A. sun for a bit. “Yr Love Is Weird” is an ode to burnout love that both sweet and disturbing. “Alcohol” gets pretty gritty with some nice garage rock guitar in the chorus, but at times it takes some serious “Light My Fire” flights of fancy which is a pleasant surprise.

In lesser hands this album may have come across trying too hard to hit all the right nostalgic notes. Fortunately, Joel Jerome has the chops and the perfectly aged vocal range that when you’re sitting there letting Cosmic Bear Jamboree wash over you it feels like you’ve discovered a lost classic. This could be the late summer/early fall record you’ve been looking for.

7. 5 out of 10

Videodrones : Nattens Hævn

Videodrones makes music that grabs you by the jugular and doesn’t let go. It’s dark, brooding electronic music that conjures up late night flicks you’d come across when you were a kid in the witching hour. Vampires, zombies, demons, witches, and the supernatural emanating from your television as a strange, buzzing wave of music accompanied it. Sometimes(most of the time) the music would somehow transcend the film it was scoring. Those special soundtracks made an impact on a whole generation of both music lovers and lovers of horror cinema. Two of those music and horror lovers make up the Danish duo Videodrones. On their debut record, 2016s Mondo Ferox, they showed their chops for the musically macabre and dense, analog sonics. It was a fantastic debut that kept those who found it clamoring for more, like zombies scratching at the door wanting flesh.

These two master musicians wasted no time in delving back into the dark corners of Frizzi, Rizatti, Carpenter, and Bobby Beausoleil. Nattens Hævn sticks to the formula laid out by Mondo Ferox, but opens the musical doors even further into straight up kosmiche music. It’s dark, pulsating, and feels like falling into a strange, recurring fever dream.

“The Jugular Gate” starts things off with a pulsating feeling of cosmic dread. Percussive stabs emulate a robotic heart beat as synth drones wheeze by. There’s a more prominent sense of melody here, too. “Maniac City” pulls a bit from Brian Gascoigne’s Phase IV soundtrack. It harkens back to the days of the mellotron and synthetic choirs. Fabio Frizzi haunts this one as well. Even the name brings to mind a film Lucio Fulci might’ve released in the late-70s. “Dream Within A Dream” has a lighter touch, sounding more Le Matos than Popol Vuh. “Hero” wavers and krinkles like some lost, unearthed cassette you found under the seat of an ’81 Skylark. If a sound could be sepia-toned, this track would be that. “Domains” sounds like space madness. It’s oscillating doom on a grand scale.

Videodrones is a musical vehicle for dark sound explorations, but these two also take the album into different musical atmospheres. “A Column” bubbles up like Vangelis in the throes of a cosmic revelation. “Night Dome” grabs some of the Bobby Beausoleil magic, while “A Blade In Your Mind” has a neon-lit 80s feel. Something you would’ve heard on a Commodore 64 game. “Shape Shifter” sounds like John Williams in 8-bit form. Closing track “Nattens Hævn”(which translates to ‘Revenge of the Night’) is a tip of the hat to John Carpenter and Phantasm‘s Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave. Gorgeously dark.

Nattens Hævn makes good on the promise of Mondo Ferox in that Videodrones continue the dark synth improvisations while still keeping a very cinematic feel. But Nattens Hævn also beautifully opens the sonic doors and windows a bit to allow just a smattering of light in. Not enough to scare the things that go bump in the night away. Just enough to keep them at bay for a bit.

8.3 out of 10

 

Astral TV : Chrystal Shores

Listening to Astral TVs Chrystal Shores is like receiving some ancient transmission from deep space. It slowly unfolds through breathing synthesizers and tube-driven circuits these interplanetary melodies. This album evokes long walks contemplating life, or quiet moments watching the sun dissipate into the ocean. This record is made up of what I call “big picture” music. You get lost in the language of machines when you hit play or drop the needle, and in times like these a record like this is essential. Astral TV are asking us to slow down and smell the roses, or contemplate our own reality. Chrystal Shores is an aural manual on how navigate our universe, one dreamy song at a time.

So what is an Astral TV you ask? Well, I imagine that creepy television that shows up in David Cronenberg’s Videodrome. You know, the one James Woods sticks his head into? Or maybe it’s some ancient console TV you find abandoned in some nondescript Midwestern basement where those strange transmissions from the great beyond arrive to on clear, star-filled evenings. James Woods may not be involved with this one, but there’s definitely some strange, beautiful transmissions happening here. Astral TV consists of Keith Canisus and Rasmus Rasmussen. Canisus is a producer and composer of electronic, dream pop, and lo-fi tunes. He’s self-released, as well as released through Darla Records. Rasmus Rasmussen is the keyboard wizard for Denmark’s Causa Sui and also puts excellent electronic music out under the name Aerosol. Together these two have formed Astral TV and their sound is new age for the new age.

Chrystal Shores blends both ambient song structures with classic Berlin School aesthetics to create something sublime, yet heady. “Before We Meet” opens the album with a feel of new beginnings. It opens like pure light cutting through fading blinds. “Mirrors” blows by your ears like a breezy rainfall just before the sun breaks through the afternoon overcast. You get a real Vangelis-meets-Tangerine Dream vibe here and that’s not a bad thing. “Staying Home” wavers in the air with echoing guitar lines that ground this otherworldly track, giving the song an overall earthy feel. “Human” sounds like the beginning of existence itself, unfolding like some circuit-driven pop up book that explains the meaning of it all.

And we’re only 4 songs in.

Though these songs take various forms of atmospheric, ambient music, they all carry with them a heavy 70s vibe. I imagine shag carpet in a basement with beanbag chairs and an old console stereo where stacks of vinyl wait to be spun. After school specials and Kool-Aid in the fridge. These songs tap into a very specific time. A time where beer commercials and kids shows are soundtracked by strange machines named things like “Moog” and “Prophet 8”. Though, there’s something far deeper going on in tracks like “Sun Flares”, “0000”, “Welcome”, and the epic creeper “Surveillance” than you’d find in a Schaefer Beer commercial. “Surveillance” especially starts out with an ominous drone that feels like strange eyes staring in on something they shouldn’t. If you could somehow blend the sonic humidity of The Fog with the neon-lit doomed futurism of Blade Runner you might have an idea of what’s going on here. It’s dark and light coming together somewhere in the middle.

Astral TVs Chrystal Shores is new age music for a new age. There’s nothing “hippy dippy” about this record, though. It sounds like a soundtrack for enlightenment. It’s wide open spaces and technicolor dreams. Canisus and Rasmussen have made a record for serious moments of contemplation and headphone explorations. Navel-gazing or stargazing, take your pick. It’s a record that opens your head and lets some serious light in.

8.6 out of 10

Astral TV’s ‘Human’

Imagine the moment the universe reveals itself to you, openly and without hesitation. Those ancient, intergalactic secrets brought out into the bright, all-encompassing light of knowledge for you to finally understand and appreciate. Misunderstandings of existence, the afterlife, religion, death, and love are displayed to you -to anyone- for the first time ever in all of this or any world’s lifespan. This is the moment the meaning of it all comes to fruition….

I imagine that moment would sound something like Astral TV’s new track “Human”.

Astral TV is the duo of Rasmus Rasmussen and Keith Canisius and they seem to have captured a perfect mix of ambient music, sci-fi sounds, and heady existential sound explorations within 14 tracks on their debut album for El Paraiso Records titled Chrystal Shores.

So will Astral TV appeal to you? I don’t know, do you feel general human emotions? Do you ever ponder the bigger questions about where we come from or what is the meaning of it all? Do you enjoy staring across a darkening horizon to watch the sun sink into the abyss of evening? Do you love, long, or yearn for another person that may be out of reach? Would you rather read Philip K. Dick instead of Michael Crichton? Have you ever thought you can’t get enough Tangerine Dream, Popol Vuh, or Klaus Schulze? If the answer to one or all of these is “Well, yeah”, then Astral TV is certainly for you.

The newest track to be released into the world from Astral TV(the first being “Sun Flares” back in June) is “Human”, and it’s exquisite. In its 2:16 running time, it pulsates and opens like some lost Blade Runner track. Synths percolate and bloom, revealing new layers of sonic joy. It’s both a sci-fi-sounding piece and also hints at some lost musical interlude you may have heard in the early 70s that Boards of Canada might’ve sampled on Music Has The Right To Children. Rasmussen and Canisius sound like two space age wizards laying out a map to the universe with nothing more than various analog toys and circuit boxes.

“Human” is yet another stellar track off what will be one of the best heavy synth releases of the year. Put on some headphones and hit play below and get lost for a couple minutes in the warm, bubbling tones of Astral TV’s “Human”, then hit the link right here and go preorder this record.

Astral TV’s Chrystal Shores arrives July 21st via El Paraiso Records.