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

 

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.

Nicklas Sorensen : Solo

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 thesorensen 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

 

 

 

Papir : Live At Roadburn

I think every great psych/stoner/space rock band have at least one similar goal, and that goal is to play the Roadburn Festival. It’s a music festival that takes place every year in the Netherlands, and like so many other great alternative rock festivals around the world(Austin Psych Fest and Liverpool Psych Fest come to mind), Roadburn has been host to some of stoner/space/psych rock’s absolute best. White Hills and Earthless’ Roadburn sets come to mind as raw, gritty, and intense examples of just how serious those Roadburn folks take the live experience. We now have Copenhagen, Denmark’s Papir to add to the list of great bands to play Roadburn. Papir’s Live At Roadburn is a testament to the intensity and gravitas these three Danish cats carry onto the stage. At nearly one hour and twenty minutes Papir’s Live At Roadburn is a dense, loud, and mind bending experience.

“Lykk Trep-R Hi-Losé” blows out of the speakers at maximum rock ‘n roll. You can almost feel the weight of those distorted chords hanging in the air, blasting you in the face. From right out of the starting gates Papir sound like a band that’s been playing all night. “IIII.I”, the opening track off of Papir IIII rolls in next and only gains from being played live in front of an audience. Listening to this Danish three piece breeze through this track you really get a sense of the power these guys possess. They run the gamut between psych, heavy rock, and even free form atmospherics like guys that have been playing for years. “Monday” is just an intense display of musicianship and a perfect example of just how tight these guys are locked into each other. The bass and drums keep the chugging train moving, allowing for some great guitar noodling that becomes explosive towards the end. “Live I” and “Live II” take up nearly thirty minutes of play time on this live set and they act as an extended disengagement from the world. You can close your eyes and get lost in Papir’s magical musical world. Colors stream brightly by your face as both tracks ebb and flow. These two songs are what differentiate the men from the boys. These tracks are meditations on power, improvisation, and stream-of-consciousness jams.

This is the good stuff.

“Sunday #2”, off of the excellent Stundum, closes Papir’s Roadburn set with a bang. Sixteen minutes of patient flow that builds up to absolute aural bliss. Papir arrived in the Netherlands and completely destroyed.

There aren’t too many live albums really worth the time to sit through. Papir’s Live At Roadburn is one of the few definitely worth owning and playing at maximum volume. I’ve never heard three guys make so much noise.

8.8 out of 10

 

Papir :: IIII

papirNot too long ago I found this little slice of musical heaven located in Denmark. It’s a little record label that goes by the name of El Paraiso Records. It was started by some guys in a band called Causa Sui in order to release their records to the listening public. As well as releasing Causa Sui records, El Paraiso releases records by Jonas Munk and Jakob Skott(both members of Causa Sui), California’s Psicomagia, Sun River, and a little band called Papir. Papir, along with most of what comes out of El Paraiso Records dabble in long, dreamy, and sometimes jammy soundscapes much like Causa Sui. But for the past three years or so Papir have been refining their sound; whittling, reshaping, tearing it down, and building it back up again. They have mastered the art of extended jams and have transcended it into something much deeper and bigger than their collective universe. They have released IIII, a year to the day they gave the world III and it only goes to prove that each time out Papir get better.

From the El Paraiso website: “As a unit the three members achieve what the great power trios of the 1960s did at their most fertile: the ability to combine each aspect of the band into a whole that surpasses the sum of its parts.” This is a great way to sum up Papir. They create these part improv/part structured long form pieces of music and take the listener on a journey. Like past records, these pieces are segregated into a handful of soundscapes. On IIII they are divided into four songs, “IIII.I”, “IIII.II”, “IIII.III”, and “IIII.IIII”. Each of these tracks are distinct in mood and where they take you. They are instrumental, yes. And they are created using the same formula each time which is guitar, bass, and drums. But within the confines of a rock trio they make a sound that rivals even the great Explosions in The Sky. Where EiTS have a certain melodrama and pomposity in their songs, Papir seem much more looser. This looseness carries the nearly 22 minutes of “IIII.III” along freely, and you never once feel like checking the clock. Within it there are ebbs and flows; movements and great dynamics in volume and intensity. Spidery guitar lines interweave with the bass, and they both are carried along by Christoffer Brøchmann’s intense drumming. “IIII.I” is light-hearted and breezy, like a pleasant wind coming off the Danish Straits. Nicklas Sørensen does some amazing guitar playing that brings to mind Michael Rother, and even John McLaughlin. Christian Becher Clausen’s bass is ever present throughout the proceedings, always moving and always pushing the song forward. “IIII.II” starts out slow and builds, like some of the best Mogwai bits over the last 10 years. Pretty soon the song explodes into a ball of cymbal fire and blistering guitar lines that ascend to the Heavens. It’s bombast at its finest. “IIII.IIII” is the shortest track and a hazy beauty. Delayed guitar flutters overhead as tribal drums and a steady bass line anchor the song to earth. We’re left to float above like a kite looking down on the hand holding our string.

Papir have created yet another masterpiece from somewhere in Denmark. If bands like NEU!, Can, Explosions in The Sky, and Mogwai make you smile from the inside out do yourself a favor and find IIII. Once you’re in love, find III and Stundum. You’ll thank me. And you’ll most certainly thank Papir.

9.6 out of 10

El Paraiso

el paraisoIt seems that Denmark is much cooler than I ever thought possible. The reason for this newfound revelation? El Paraiso Records.

El Paraiso is a Danish record company run by Jonas Munk and Jakob Skott. These two fellows are in the incredible band Causa Sui, as well as putting out stellar records under their own names. It seems they started the label so they could release their own music, and in the interim have begun releasing records by other like-minded bands. On their website it says this: “El Paraiso is all about eco-friendly high quality vinyl.” That’s really all I needed to read to become a fan of this company, but I found that only after I fell hard for their artists, their sound, and their aesthetic.

causa suiThe first band I came across that was connected to El Paraiso was their flagship band Causa Sui. When I first heard them I imagined what it would’ve sounded like if Miles Davis’ electric band circa 1970 decided to jam with The Allman Brothers Band circa 1968. It’s this very free-flowing improvisational vibe, very much in the vein of electric Miles. But unlike Miles “out there” improvisations the vibe remains relatively upbeat with Causa Sui. It goes from this, at times, soaring Explosions in The Sky feel to downright Sabbath-like riffs. The songs are long but you never stop and look at the clock wondering when it’s gonna end. It’s really some of the best instrumental music I’ve heard in quite a long time. Every once in a while I hear a new band(new to me, anyways) that puts a fire in me. It reignites that musical torch as it were and gets me excited about music again. Causa Sui has done that. Their newest album Euporie Tide is a plethora of steady jams, musical explorations, and hazy ambient soundscapes. But if you dig a little deeper you’ll find their Summer Sessions Volume 1-3 and be prepared for some Can-like jams and experimentation. It’s some of the most vital, organic rock music I’ve heard in years. Pewter Session 1 and 2 are more of the same. Really, I can’t speak highly enough of this band. But that’s just the beginning…

Jakob Skott is the drummer for Causa Sui and he put out the album Doppler a couple years ago. It’s an electronic album in thejakob skott sense of warm, bubbly analog synths, bleeps and blips, and robotic soundscapes that bring to mind Boards of Canada and Stereolab. Imagine Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, and Vangelis collaborating and you might have an idea of what Doppler sounds like. Skott has a new album coming out March 17th. I’ve heard one track and am really excited for this one.

Jonas Munk is the guitarist in Causa Sui and he plays it well. He also moonlights as an electronic musician and released the incredible Pan on El Paraiso. Ambient electronic music, much like his friend and collaborator Ulrich Schnauss. At times his music has the airiness of NEU!, and some of that BoC magic his bandmate Jakob Skott taps into. He also performs under the name Manual, which he describes as “ambient dream pop and indietronica”. Whatever you call it, it’s pretty damn great.

Last but not least I’ve been obsessing over Psicomagia, a California psych band that will melt your frontal lobe if you give them a chance. I’ve been listening to their self-titled, 4-song debut and it kills me every time. Somewhere between Pete Cosey-era Miles Davis, Can, and some of Mars Volta’s more intense moments. The band consists of members of Astra and Radio Moscow and I think this band stands up to both of those powerhouses. They are very much in the vein of El Paraiso’s wheelhouse, which is probably why they released Psicomagia’s album. Bravo, fellas. Bravo.

All right, so I’ve said my peace. El Paraiso is one of the most impressive record labels I’ve come across in quite some time. They release solid albums by impeccable artists. Papir and Sun River round out one of the best line-ups a record label could ask for. The packaging is second to none, with much of the artwork created by Jakob Skott himself. With his vision shown on album cover after album cover it feels like this running artistic vision throughout each of the artists. It feels like a very organic, homegrown kind of thing they’ve got going on over there in Denmark. I can’t say enough about the love and care these guys put into their vinyl releases. Each release is not only music, but a piece of art. El Paraiso has it going on.

Check them out here.

psicomagiapapirjonas munksun river