The Pewt’r Sessions collaboration between Danish heavy psych explorers Causa Sui and Ron “Pewt’r” Schneiderman, known for his work with Massachusetts’ improvisers Sunburned Hand of the Man and his label, Spirit of Orr, traces back to live shows performed in 2006. In 2009, the two entities got together for a couple days’ worth of recording, and that resulted in the first two installments, and the new Pewt’r Sessions 3 was put to tape by Causa Sui guitarist Jonas Monk during Summer 2013, just as they were issuing the stellar Euporie Tide full-length on their own El Paraiso Records imprint. With the lineup of Schneiderman, Monk, bassist Jess Kahr, drummer Jakob Skøtt and keyboardist Rasmus Rasmussen, Pewt’r Sessions 3 fills out two vinyl sides with just three tracks, and stands in the spirit of Sessions 1 and 2 by being completely improvised. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of all is that four years had passed from when the other two releases were tracked and when this one came to be, considering the smoothness of the pieces — “Abyssal Plain” (8:29), “Eutopia” (5:03) and “Incipiency Suite” (26:34) — and the flow that Causa Sui and Schneiderman are able to elicit over the course of the release. It’s not quite a full-length album feel, and being the third installment of what’s so far a trilogy, there’s a bit of a work-in-progress spirit behind the music, but they leave little to question why they’d want to document the renewed collaboration, and Pewt’r Sessions 3 engages gorgeous washes of psych/Krautrock wanderings delivered with a rare spirit of spontaneity.
Its circumstances don’t do justice to the listening experience. Seems simple enough that Causa Sui and Schneiderman got together for a day or two and jammed out and kept what they wanted to keep, but it’s the open, creative atmosphere in which Pewt’r Sessions 3 was crafted that the recording most conveys. “Abyssal Plain” winds its way to life with some faded-in feedback and cymbal and tom hits, ambient, swirling guitars, and it liquefied before it’s even really underway, one movement flowing from the next as the jam begins to take shape. Distortion hums behind, but if there’s a threat, it’s vague and far off, and Causa Sui and Schneiderman gradually make their way into a build, languid and tripped out as it is, but with the guitars weaving lines around each other, that initial feeling of spaciousness is never lost, even as Skøtt starts to move to more solid drum progressions, keeping a beat, jazzy and loose as it is. A free-jazz feel is a good starting point, since while a definite riff emerges for a time in “Abyssal Plain,” the vibe persists, and carries into both “Eutopia” and especially “Incipiency Suite” as well. But immediately the feeling is smooth, comfortable, the chemistry familiar. I’m sure there was more to it, but if you told me these guys just flipped a switch, hit it and this is what came out, I’d believe you. The central guitar line of “Eutopia” seems more plotted, but the dreamy atmospherics built up around it in guitar and keys carry the experimentalism forward, the drums stay calm, and a course of-the-moment is worked through before a fade brings it to a close for a moment of serenity before the go-anywhere-do-anything trip-out of Pewt’r Sessions 3‘s second side.
“Eutopia” is distinct enough from what Causa Sui do on their own — so is “Abyssal Plain,” for that matter — but “Incipiency Suite” is a different beast altogether, and it’s fitting it starts out with some funky-style wah since the mix plays such a large role in it. At over 26 minutes, it was pieced together by Monk after the recording was complete from various parts recorded throughout the day. One might expect this to lead to a jumpy feel, but “Incipiency Suite” flows well enough to be its own album. I don’t know how involved Monk was in arranging which movement went where, or if he just transitioned between parts as they happened, but the end result is utterly hypnotic — a dead-on jam of molten psychedelia that on its own is worth the price of admission. As for the switches between one part to the next, they’re subtle and they create an overarching progression that’s as organic as the improvisations themselves. It’s here that Causa Sui and Schneiderman come across with their jazziest influence, the guitars spacing out with echoing twirls of notes while Skøtt drives the freakout on drums. It gets noisy and it gets to be a wash, and it moves into empty minimalist space and sun-baked pastoralia in a gorgeous summary of what it is to be psychedelic, and by the time it’s over, they’ve all gone so far out that the song seems to just float away into its own gorgeousness. Both Causa Sui and Ron Schneiderman have plenty of experience with improvisational music, and to hear that play out over these 40 minutes feels like a glimpse into a raw creative process at work. Pewt’r Sessions 3 covers a lot of ground, especially in “Incipiency Suite,” but if there’s more from these recordings or if they have to get together again to make it happen, one just hopes it’s not long before Pewt’r Sessions 4 comes to fruition, because Causa Sui and Schneiderman sound ready to keep exploring.
Causa Sui and Ron Schneiderman, “Incipiency Suite”