Review & Track Premiere: Uffe Lorenzen, Galmandsværk

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Uffe-Lorenzen-Galmandsvaerk

[Click play above to stream ‘På Kanten Af Verden’ from Uffe Lorenzen’s Galmandsværk. Album is out Nov. 10 on Bad Afro Records.]

It would be difficult to overstate the level to which Uffe Lorenzen has contributed to the Danish and wider European heavy underground. Better known by the stage alias of Lorenzo Woodrose, Lorenzen was a member of pivotal anti-trend psych rockers On Trial before going on to found Baby Woodrose and, with that group, assume a figurehead role for Danish garage rock and heavy psychedelia that he maintains to this day — to wit, Baby Woodrose‘s 2016 full-length, Freedom (review here), was marvelous — driven by a relentless creativity that has led him to not only evolve that band but found and contribute to other projects like Dragontears and Spids Nøgenhat, keeping a steady flow of releases through Bad Afro Records and other labels and building a listenership and influence that at this point spans more than a generation.

Galmandsværk is not the first solo album Lorenzen has produced — there was the Pandemonica series of home recordings captured in the ’90s and released in the early 2000s, and Baby Woodrose‘s origins certainly stem from his compositional and performance method — but it is the first solo album he’s ever produced under his own name, and that would not seem to be a decision made lightly. That an artist with nearly 30 years of output under his belt would suddenly decide a single long-player represents his intent enough to put his real name on it when he’s never done so before? Not only that, but the write and sing songs for the first time in his native language?

That may or may not make Lorenzen‘s 10 inclusions on the 36-minute Galmandsværk — the title of which loosely translates to “act of madness” — the truest manifestation of who he is as an artist at this stage in his career, but it should definitely catch the eye of his followers, and taken in kind with the psych-folk basis and arrangements in many of these cuts, it seems to drive toward the notion of conversing with bedrock influences in Lorenzen‘s overall milieu. To be sure, cuts like “Ny By” and the earlier “Ridset Plade” bear the hallmark guitar fuzz and Mellotron spaciousness one might expect from Lorenzo Woodrose, but the shift in context toward a peaceful feel — not to mention the xylophone on “Ny By” — approaches garage rock vintage-ism from a new angle and makes for a deeply satisfying progression in style.

Backed by the not-at-all-language-dependent foundation of Lorenzen‘s songwriting — a standard that remains seemingly unfuckwithable, as shown here in the flute-laden dreamer “Flippertøs” and acoustic, backmasked-sample, keyboard-and-psych-wash-guitar sublime freakout of the penultimate “Høj Som Et Højhus” — Galmandsværk is at once quintessentially his own and a bold foray into new ground, the acoustic origins of many of the arrangements remaining prevalent while nonetheless fleshed out by electrics, keys, percussion and sundry other elements.

uffe lorenzen photo james daltrey

This is especially true on the longest cut and near-centerpiece, “På Kanten Af Verden,” which introduces sitar and percussive elements early into its 5:23 in order to set up a later-emerging jam that hits circa 3:45 joined by more weighted electric guitar tone and provides a singular, standout moment for the record as a whole, at once patient and scorching. In the serenity around it of songs like the aforementioned “Flippertøs” or “Dansker,” which opens, its vibrancy and resonance shimmer all the more, and with the bouncing jaw harp of the subsequent “Sang Om Merværdi,” it marks a turn in energy level that keeps Galmandsværk dynamic and all the more accomplished in its overarching sense of balance.

Fans of Baby Woodrose will no doubt recognize many of the elements at play here from that band, and if nothing else I think that speaks to the level at which that group has come to stand for Lorenzen as a player and composer — somehow making the transition to releasing under his own name seem increasingly natural — but between the language swap and the acoustic basis of songs like “Dansker” and the catchy “Rimets Tyranni” at the outset, Galmandsværk has no trouble establishing its own framework separate from that group, and its distinction does nothing to undercut the atmosphere of immersion and playfulness of style throughout, whether that’s the garage flourish of “Ridset Plade,” the wistful melodicism of “Min Skygge” or the final otherworldliness of “Blues for Havet,” which marks the return of the sitar that showed itself on “På Kanten Af Verden” — the end of side B perhaps calling back to the end of side A; a nod to structure of form one could only call suitable given Lorenzen‘s penchant for same in his craft.

Individual tracks move in any number of directions between garage rock, acid folk and classic psychedelia, but if nothing else, Galmandsværk — the bulk of which was reportedly written by Lorenzen on an island off the coast of Morocco over a 10-week stretch — is properly presented under the artist’s name. It is his own, and he absolutely owns it across what despite the level of engagement remains an utterly manageable LP span. While I’ll admit to feeling somewhat at a disadvantage compared to someone who might be able to examine the lyrics on their own level for being in Danish and talk about Lorenzen‘s representation of himself, of Copenhagen, of Denmark and so on, what comes through clearly in this material regardless of the words being said is a universal nature of sonic equilibrium — a poise that holds itself forward as a crucial aspect no matter where a single track might veer around it.

This can be seen as a function of the single origin of the songs themselves, and with Lorenzen thus at the core, the album is entirely his own. It’s been floated the solo-project will be an ongoing modus of exploration for Lorenzen from here on out, and while it’s difficult to imagine Baby Woodrose being put to rest given the vitality of Freedom and the band’s continued impact, if he does indeed choose to focus elsewhere even for some measure of time, this first act of madness brims with potential for future development while emphasizing the root of what has always made his work so special. It is a triumph, a worthy landmark, and hopefully another step in the ever-forward path of a storied career.

Uffe Lorenzen, “Flippertøs” official video

Uffe Lorenzen on Thee Facebooks

Baby Woodrose on Thee Facebooks

Baby Woodrose on Bandcamp

Baby Woodrose website

Spids Nøgenhat on Thee Facebooks

Galmandsværk at Bad Afro Records Bandcamp

Bad Afro Records on Thee Facebooks

Bad Afro Records website

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Øresund Space Collective, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle: Ever Explorers

Posted in Reviews on October 24th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

oresund space collective hallucinations inside the oracle

For those who’d enter the vast, dense and nebular quadrant of the galaxy occupied by the ever-expanding catalog of Øresund Space Collective, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle makes for a decidedly convenient jumping off point. Sure, its four tracks and 82 minutes are comprised of massive, improvised works of spacefaring heavy psychedelia, marked out on pieces like “The Oracle Pt. 2” by hypnotizing waves of slowly unfolding and undulating particle drift, a kosmiche cascade that those familiar with the amorphously-comprised outfit spearheaded by synthmaster Scott “Dr. Space” Heller will tell you is just how it goes, but it’s also marked out by a pretty accessible core concept, whereas some of the ultra-prolific outfit’s other recent work, whether that’s 2016’s Visions Of… (review here) and the drone-driven Ode to a Black Hole (review here, 2015’s 3LP Different Creatures (review here) or 2014’s we-made-you-look-up-a-word Music for Pogonologists (review here), might be more difficult to easily grasp.

Recorded in Nov. 2016, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle is nonetheless rich in context in that it would seem to be a logical follow-up to/expansion on two other Øresund Space Collective-related offerings — namely the full-lengths crafted by the trio of former Siena Root sitarist KG WestmanHeller and Siena Root drummer Love Forsberg under the moniker West, Space and Love: 2012’s self-titled (discussed here), recorded in 2009, and last year’s West, Space and Love II (review here).

Though Forsberg doesn’t make an appearance on Hallucinations Inside the Oracle, the release does bring Westman into the fold of Øresund Space Collective proper, and his presence on sitar, synth and guitar is quickly felt in the opener “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye,” which at 21:51 is the first of the four side-consuming jams featured, followed by “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective)” (19:35), “The Oracle Pt. 1” (22:24) and “The Oracle Pt. 2” (18:27), and it’s Westman‘s contributions that most stand Hallucinations Inside the Oracle out as a place for newcomers to Øresund Space Collective to dive into. The sitar, which isn’t the first thing we hear on “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye” but is pretty close to it and certainly leading the way, presents an organic core that holds together beneath the inevitable swirl that takes hold from the surrounding lineup of Dr. Space, guitarist/synthesist Magnus, bassist Jiri, drummer Tim, bassist/percussionist Hasse, and guitarist/bassist/violinist/etc. Jonathan, and as far out as the Collective go in these tracks, that core helps set a mood that has a classic East-meets-West (pun maybe 25 percent intended) psychedelic vibe that only makes the surrounding fare more immersive.

oresund space collective

Such is demonstrated when “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye” devolves late into a wash of synth noise ahead of the more Tangerine Dream-style synthesized beatmaking on “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective).” There’s no sitar on the second piece from what I can discern, but the synth-fueled thruster fire is complemented by fuzzy guitar and layers of various other lysergic noises, swelling in volume and falling back into the depths of the mix, the very sound of a solar system taking shape from gravity’s pull and the condensation of stellar matter. Circa six minutes, “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective)” seems to suddenly come apart, but Øresund Space Collective are able to regroup and salvage the jam, redirecting toward a linear build that pays off with surprising thickness as it approaches and passes its 18th minute, thoroughly living up to and beyond its title. And when it’s over? It’s that synth line that remains as the final element to fade out, ending side B with a message of underlying cohesion — a cosmic plan at work.

And so there is. That plan further shows itself as Westman‘s sitar returns for “The Oracle Pt. 1,” his utter mastery of the instrument once more on display in graceful, gradual surroundings that indeed divide naturally as they’re split up — which is to say, it’s not like the jam was just cut in half in a random place; there’s a lull there where the drums seem to end the first part and begin the second, which also finds Westman moved off sitar onto synth and/or guitar. It’s a noteworthy change because it mirrors the dynamic between “Reflections in the Mind’s Eye” and “ESP (Extreme Spatial Perspective)” back on the first LP, though admittedly, “The Oracle Pt. 2” is less beat-driven than the side B inclusion. Still, the complementary nature of one piece into the next isn’t to be understated, and that it essentially happens twice over the course of Hallucinations Inside the Oracle, albeit in different forms, only makes the album an easier foothold for listeners less familiar with the group’s work or the generally massive scope it encompasses. For those less indoctrinated, it is as much about process as outcome, at least from the point of view of one hearing it.

Øresund Space Collective, as ever, are propelled toward and their music seems to emanate from the very moment of creation itself, the live-captured improvisation serving to represent the root of that moment, the first spark of the Big Bang and all the galaxies it set in motion. “The Oracle Pt. 1” and “The Oracle Pt. 2” represent this as perfectly as any Øresund Space Collective piece I’ve heard since the 45-minute “20 Steps Towards the Invisible Door” from Different Creatures (on which Westman also appeared), because as flowing as they are, they’re also incredibly open, given to whatever the moment of their crafting might bring, whether that’s a sitar lead in the first part or the drone-backed guitar exploration in the midsection of the second.

By following these impulses, Øresund Space Collective continue to hone their singular sonic identity and the resonance of their output continues to thrill and entrance in like measure. Indeed, no matter who seems to be involved in a given release, Øresund Space Collective never fail to offer something nuanced amid their overarchingly raw process, and Hallucinations Inside the Oracle is no exception for its progressive and gorgeously executed, extended course. It’s another check-in from a place in the galaxy that teems with such vibrancy and yet seems to only have a single inhabitant — which is to say, they’re in a space all their own.

Øresund Space Collective, Hallucinations Inside the Oracle (2017)

Øresund Space Collective on The Facebooks

Øresund Space Collective on Bandcamp

Øresund Space Collective website

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Review & Track Premiere: Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on October 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

causa sui vibraciones doradas

[Click play above to stream ‘El Fuego’ from Causa Sui’s Vibraciones Doradas, out Nov. 17 on El Paraiso Records]

There are few in the realm of heavy psychedelia who offer either the level of tonal depth or the overarching sense of warmth brought to bear by Danish instrumental four-piece Causa Sui. You might say they’ve done an entire group of releases — their three-volume-to-date Summer Sessions series — where the central focus was just that, but really, the bulk of their work tells the story, whether it’s the vitality of their live performance as captured in earlier 2017’s Live in Copenhagen (review here) and their prior live outing, 2014’s Live at Freak Valley (review here), or studio records like 2016’s psych-as-jazz Return to Sky (review here) and 2013’s desert-glorious Euporie Tide (discussed here). The five-track Vibraciones Doradas, released by the band’s own El Paraiso Records, is the latest chapter in this ongoing sonic narrative they’ve thus far put forth, and for fans of the group — a number in which I count myself — their return is welcome as always.

The new album is something of a surprise so soon after Return to Sky, but as one can hear in the fluidity once more conjured by guitarist Jonas Munk, drummer Jakob Skøtt, keyboardist Rasmus Rasmussen and bassist Jess KahrCausa Sui continue to work on their own level when it comes to style, able to shift between the feet-on-the-ground drumming that gives opener “The Drop” its churning beginning and the spacious guitar and keys of “El Fuego” that seem to float that 11-minute second song and side A finisher toward its graceful midsection build. Some of the progressive sensibilities of arrangement cast into Return to Sky have been dialed back — not all, but some — and the resulting live feel even in synth-laden centerpiece drone interlude “Viborera” as it long-fades into the straight-ahead desert riff at the outset of “Seven Hills” ahead of the nine-minute nodder-closer title-cut is flowing and gorgeous in kind. Especially after Live in Copenhagen, one didn’t expect a new studio LP from Causa Sui this year, and they’ve managed to sneak out one of the 2017’s best. Go figure.

Vibraciones Doradas quickly proves its headphone-worthiness with subtle effects swirl branching out from the layers of guitar in “The Drop,” adding a languid and psychedelic feel that contrasts as much as it complements Skøtt‘s surprisingly propulsive drumming. This continues into the multi-tiered solo in the midsection, keys and guitar intertwining for a melodically rich moment of dream-meets-push, and even as Causa Sui turn back toward more grounded fare, there’s Echoplex-ish swirl buried deep, filling out the mix, rising and receding in a current that joins the drums and bass in a fadeout after five minutes in as guitar pastoralia takes hold for the remaining two minutes of the track, hypnotic and otherworldly en route to the stick clicks that begin “El Fuego”‘s run of toms and bass, joined soon by wah guitar. Before long, a full tonal largesse is unveiled, but Causa Sui aren’t looking to crush so much as establish a range, and they set about that work with the earned ease of masters, building, crashing and careening as they will, but never clumsy in that process or putting themselves someplace they don’t actively want to be.

The fuzz in “El Fuego” from Munk should be nothing short of a joy for tone geeks, and as the longest inclusion on Vibraciones Doradas shifts into a patient sprawl at around three minutes into its 11 minutes, the ‘vibe’ indeed seems to be the central theme the album is constructing itself around. Even if this collection is more straightforward in a guitar-bass-drums-keys sense than was Return to Sky — that said, one hears chimes and such deep in the “El Fuego” mix — there remains a spaciousness to Causa Sui‘s method that presents itself in the peaceful ambience of “El Fuego”‘s middle. Once again, the band are by the time five minutes have passed engaged in a linear build toward an apex, but you’d almost never know it until almost another two minutes are gone and they’re arriving at their destination, so peaceful and serene is their spirit. This deep-trance state is something they do exceedingly well, and while “Vibraciones Doradas” will end the record with a wash that earns it the right to bear the album’s title, no doubt “El Fuego” is a model being followed one way or another.

causa sui

For those hearing it digitally or on CD, it’s easy to overlook “Viborera” after “El Fuego,” in part because its ethereal resonance follows that track in a not dissimilar manner to that of the ending of “The Drop” — a shift into transitional ambience — but while its stretch only lasts two minutes and could be argued simply as a means to make side B as long as side A, the lulling effect it has on the listener ahead of the upbeat kick-in of “Seven Hills” isn’t to be understated. Like “The Drop,” “Seven Hills” offers fluidity in its turns and a forward trajectory at once, but the answer-back it gives the opener is deeply affected by “Viborera” before it, which brings a different context to the underlying waves of synth and the emergent guitar leads. Kahr handles the bass beneath Munk‘s solo wash like he’s Causa Sui‘s secret weapon, and indeed he might be, but the soundscape the band are conjuring pulls the best from all four participants, and Rasmussen‘s keys and effects have a considerable say in the atmospheric impressionism of “Seven Hills” as they have all along, adding a contemplative feel to the movement-minded piece, which previews the final crescendo to come in the title-track with its own late-arriving swirl.

Oh, make no mistake: that swirl arrives right on time, just later in the song itself — crackling to a sudden finish as Skøtt sets the march of “Vibraciones Doradas” in motion with simple hits on his floor tom met by fuzzy guitar that before the first minute is done has unveiled its course in some of the biggest-sounding riffing I’ve ever heard from Causa Sui. It lumbers. It plods. Respite comes at about three minutes in as the band shifts into the beginning of what will be Vibraciones Doradas‘ last build, but the ensuing heft early in the titular cut suits them well and is something that feels fresh in their sound, taken on with no less boldness than they seem to take on every new element. There’s a noisy sense of near-impatience as the last build gets underway, marked by tension in the drumming and the layers of guitar, and the payoff that follows more than justifies it, hitting just about eight minutes deep into the nine-minute piece and finishing the record with a cacophonous celebration of its own sonic rite-making. One can hear Skøtt put his sticks down when the drums finish, and soon after, the last of the swirl is gone and Causa Sui leave their audience in silence.

That happens surprisingly fast, though I suppose one might say the same of the entirety of Vibraciones Doradas‘ 37 minutes. The band come in without pretense, set their mission in an instrumental sprawl of heavy psych that plays as much to the first part of that equation as to the second, and accomplish that mission without question or what feels like a single unnecessarily placed note. Efficiency and sprawl have rarely coexisted so peaceably, but if anyone was going to make that happen, it would almost have to be an act of Causa Sui‘s caliber. They persist in making themselves forerunners of the European underground, and their unyielding progression continues to result in some of the most satisfying and engaging fare to come from that vast, crowded sphere. It’s the kind of work that makes you happy to be alive to hear it.

Causa Sui on Thee Facebooks

El Paraiso Records

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Lorenzo Woodrose to Release Solo Album Galmandsværk Nov. 10; New Single Streaming

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 11th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Oh shit I want to hear this. Today if possible. Like, the sooner the better. A solo album sung in Danish by Uffe Lorenzen, AKA Lorenzo Woodrose? So you mean to tell me that the arguable spearhead of modern Danish heavy psych and garage rock, founder of Baby Woodrose, Dragontears and Spids Nøgenhat has found an avenue of expression so personal that not only is he unwilling to translate it into English, but he’s also refusing to release it under any but his actual, real name? Written on some island off the coast of Morocco? Fuck yes. Sign me up. Sign me up faster. Sign me up today. I want to hear this. Presently.

Lorenzen has always been a key songwriter in the above-listed outfits, and going back to a project called Pandemonica in 2002 he’s shown an interest in solo releases, but this would seem to be a different level entirely. He’s got the single “Flippertøs” streaming now ahead of the Nov. 10 release of the album, titled Galmandsværk, and I’m sorry, but if you listen to this track and aren’t immediately as stoked on the prospect of hearing the rest of the record as I am, you’re living wrong.

So live right:

uffe lorenzen flippertos

Uffe Lorenzen – Galmandsværk

Uffe Lorenzen (alias Lorenzo Woodrose) is the frontman of Baby Woodrose and Spids Nøgenhat but from now on he will be recording and performing under his own name and be singing in Danish. The first result is the new solo album Galmandsværk (loosely translates to “act of madness”) that was conceived during a vacation on the island Gomera near the coast of Marocco where Uffe Lorenzen stayed in a small room doing nothing but writing new songs.

“Flippertøs” (Hippie Chick) is the first single from Galmandsværk. While the rest of the album sounds as if Baby Woodrose, Spids Nøgenhat and Dragontears merged and turned into something new, “Flippertøs” stands out as the most traditional pop song on the record.

Uffe Lorenzen: “Flippertøs was an attempt to write about all the things I missed about being home in Copenhagen, meanwhile sitting all alone, staring at the ocean and playing my guitar on a small volcanic island for 10 weeks. The lyric ended up namedropping a lot of my favourite places in Copenhagen, like Loppen, Floss, Kronborggade, Lygtens Kro, etc.. I guess it is a song about longing on many levels, but there is also a bit of social criticism in it. MAYBE the hippie chick in the song IS Copenhagen?”

“Flippertøs” will be available digitally September 8th. Galmandsværk will be released November 10th on LP/CD and digital.

Video for “Flippertøs” made by Palle Demant.

https://www.facebook.com/BabyWoodrose/
https://babywoodrose.bandcamp.com/
https://babywoodrose.wordpress.com/
https://www.facebook.com/spidsnogenhat/
https://badafrorecords.bandcamp.com/
https://www.facebook.com/badafrorecords/
http://badafro.dk/

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Red Lama Release New Single “Post Optimism” this Friday; Streaming Now

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

Later this week, Danish heavy psychedelic rockers Red Lama will issue their first new music since their debut album, Dreams are Free (review here), brought their tonal warmth to wider consciousness last year. The new single is to be released via Norwegian imprint All Good Clean Records and it’s called “Post Optimism.” It’s the first audio I’m hearing from Red Lama‘s apparently forthcoming sophomore full-length, which is reportedly due out before the end of the year.

Also, if you couldn’t tell, it’s the first I’m hearing about the release of a second Red Lama LP. No complaints there, though time’s a crunch if they actually want to get it out before the end of 2017. Not to say it can’t or won’t happen, but that’s a quick turnaround for the Copenhagen-based seven-piece, who clearly work exceedingly well together. Can you imagine trying to get seven people to agree on anything, let alone songwriting? I’d feel like every time you managed to get seven people in the same place to rehearse, it would be a significant win.

Speaking of wins, you can check out a stream of “Post Optimism” at the bottom of this post. Art and info follows here, courtesy of All Good Clean Records via the PR wire:

red lama post optimism

Red Lama announce new single: Post Optimism, out on september 8th.

The seven Danish lamas move towards new horizons and musical expressions with the release of their pulsating single Post Optimism on September 8th.

Since the release of their debut album Dreams Are Free in 2016, Red Lama have been playing a series of shows and festivals, including a midnight concert at Spot Festival that elicited rave reviews. The same vibrant atmosphere conjured at their concerts is channeled through this first single from Red Lama’s upcoming second album. With a powerful rhythm section, sharp guitar riffs and Johannes Linnet’s dream-like vocal, Post Optimism is a great example of Red Lama’s exciting sound.

Red Lama on the single: “Post Optimism is energetic and catchy. We’ve mixed dynamic pumping grooves with sizzling guitars and a more focused vocal. Compared to the numbers on our debut album, this is a shorter and more uplifting song. We’ve been working to condense our usually long numbers into one more concentrated expression”.

Post Optimism is out on September 8th and is the first track to be shared from the upcoming album, set to be released later in the year.

Hear Post Optimism and other new tracks live here:

LIVE:
10th october: Red Lama + Acid Mothers Temple @ Loppen Christiania
11th november : Sorte Firkant Festival @ Koncertkirken

Red Lama:
Johannes Linnet: Vocal
Oliver Fick: Guitar
Jonas Rahbek: Guitar
Frederik Randrup: Bass
Morten Kaas: Organ
Niklas Sjøbeck: Percussion
Marius Linnet: Drums

www.facebook.com/redlamadk
www.instagram.com/red_lama_band
www.soundcloud.com/red-lama
www.redlamaband.bandcamp.com
http://www.allgoodcleanrecords.com/
https://www.facebook.com/allgoodcleanrecords/

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Review & Track Premiere: Papir, V

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on August 2nd, 2017 by JJ Koczan

PAPIR V

[Click play above to stream the premiere of Papir’s ‘V.I’ from the new album V, out Aug. 18 on Stickman Records and available for preorder here.]

There isn’t a harsh moment on it — not one blastbeat, scream, or malevolent dirge — but Papir‘s V is a work of extremity all the same. The suitably-named fifth album from the instrumentalist Copenhagen trio of guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, drummer Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen and bassist Christian Becher Clausen, its 2CD/2LP run of seven tracks and 94 minutes pushes into a psychedelic wash of such breadth and immersion that there’s no other word to describe it. Its tones are warm air on cold skin, and its rhythms are cool water on a hot day. It is among the longest hugs you will receive this year. More to the point, it is an ultra-liquid, ultra-engaging flow of heavy psychedelia that stretches well beyond the confines of what one might consider manageable but offers a solar system’s worth of worlds to explore in trade.

In terms of basic circumstance, V notably finds the band shifting from El Paraiso Records — which released 2011’s second album, Stundum, 2013’s III and 2014’s IIII (review here), a compilation of III and IIII together in 2014, as well as their Live at Roadburn outing and a special edition 10″, both in 2015 (their self-titled debut came out in 2010 via Red Tape) — to Stickman Records. That removes them from partnership with like-minded Danish countrymen Causa Sui but establishes them as labelmates to forward-thinking outfits such as MotorpsychoElder, and Orango, among others. Papir show themselves to be no less progressive on V, which brims with a sense of universal expansion playing out across its nigh-on-impossible span; numbered individual pieces — “V.I,” “V.II,” V.VI,” and so on — taking on a life of their own, including “V.III,” which is the shortest of the bunch and the only cut included on V to check in under 10 minutes. If you’re wondering, it is 9:07.

Clearly Papir are envisioning a broad listening scenario. That is, you put the platter or the disc on and let yourself get lost in their jazzy progressive krautrocking psychedelia. Maybe you have headphones in to better experience nuances like the underlying acoustic strum beneath the soaring leads of 15-minute centerpiece “V.IV,” or maybe the space-rock thrust of “V.II” is turned up through speakers in order to let Clausen‘s highlight bassline rumble through the floors. Either way you go, Papir‘s skillful blend of proggy elements, post-rock ambience, mega-patient delivery and aesthetic cohesion proves second to none with V, and the sheer scope of the work they’re doing becomes even more staggering when one considers that it doesn’t necessarily sound like it’s just jamming.

papir

While I have no doubt that at least parts of their material are improvised or based around initial improvisations, listening to the emerging dreamscape clarity of “V.V” — arguably the lushest and most gorgeous single piece Papir have produced to-date, with Christensen‘s drums keeping steady motion beneath guitar, synth and bass interplay that is stirring in a manner instrumental output rarely achieves — there’s a consciousness and a direction at work as well. It could be Sørensen leading the way as his guitar meanders and explores open, vast soundscapes, but it’s definitely a spirit to which all three members of Papir contribute, so that it’s less about the work of one of them and the variety of texture, stylistic complexity and the flow — my god, the flow — they’re able to bring to bear when working together with the effectiveness and they chemistry they show here. Much to their collective credit, as they move toward the 25-minute finale “V.II” through the rumbling and ringing “V.VI” (11:03), there isn’t a moment of redundancy to be found. On a release that’s 94 minutes long, one would hardly be able to hold it against them if there were, but each track on offers something distinct from its surroundings while refusing to sacrifice the overarching purpose that seems to drive the band continually farther and farther outward.

And they end up pretty far out, to be sure. One could easily posit that Papir broke through creativity on III and really defined their course and sonic persona in the reaches of IIII, but even if that’s so, V surpasses both in its scope and execution. Holding to an organic vibe even as “V.VII” drifts along a slow path of effects wash and drone in its early going, this may not be the moment at which Papir make their first declaration of who they are as a band — nor should it be; this is their fifth LP — but it is a moment that finds them blowing that prior definition away like dandelion seeds with such a willful expansion as to be staggering when taken in its entirety. Yes, it is long, but even the length seems to serve a mission more about the effect produced by the material than the length itself — not just that Papir take that time, but what they’re able to accomplish with it.

Circa 20 minutes in, “V.VII” finds Christensen picking up momentum on the drums, and there’s a build of tension there, but if you think Papir are headed for some blowout crescendo, you’ve missed the point. A few cymbal crashes behind the steadily-exploratory guitar and bass serve as an exciting finish that stays true to the high level of class the three-piece have shown throughout V, and emphasizes once more the gracefulness they bring to this massive, encompassing fuller-than-full-length. That may be the theme that most draws the individual tracks together, but when taken as a single entirety, there’s no turn so drastic as to necessarily interrupt the movement of the proceedings overall. Still, no doubt V will simply prove too much for some, and so despite its poise and gentleness and readiness to converse with its audience rather than repel, one continues to think of it as a work of extremity. It just so happens that that extremity finds Papir stepping out from behind their influences to make themselves leaders in heavy psychedelia and in so doing takes the form of one of 2017’s best and most satisfying listening experiences.

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Six Dumb Questions with Demon Head

Posted in Six Dumb Questions on July 6th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

demon head

With the seven tracks/40 minutes of their second full-length, Thunder on the Fields (review here), Copenhagen-based five-piece Demon Head explored textures between cult rock, vintage heavy, the formative era of doom and its modern interpretations, tying these various elements together via memorable songcraft and a resonant sense of live performance in cuts like “We are Burning,” “Thunder on the Fields” and “Gallows Omen,” among others. Their efforts resulted in one of the best albums of 2017 so far, and with issue through The Sign Records and Caligari Records, the follow-up to the band’s 2015 debut, Ride the Wilderness (review here), took a decided forward step in aesthetic and overarching presentation.

The solidification of an approach is one thing, and Thunder on the Fields most definitely represents that for Demon Head — appropriately so for a sophomore outing after a potential-filled debut — but in the garage-esque jangle of centerpiece “Older Now,” one can hear the lineup of vocalist Marcus Ferreira Larsen, lead/slide guitarist Thor Nielsen, rhythm guitarist/keyboardist Birk Nielsen, bassist Mikkel Fuglsang and drummer Jeppe Wittus actively working toward a more individualized style. And while the pieces they’re using for construction may be familiar, to listen to Thunder on the Fields either in its more straight-ahead early cuts like opener “Menneskeæderen” or the later reaches of the proto-metallic “Hic Svnt Dracones” and the seemingly jammed-out finale “Untune the Sky,” Demon Head‘s success in their efforts to make them their own can only be called a success throughout.

In the interview that follows, Larson talks about making the new record in terms of writing and recording, but also the band’s recent experience getting robbed on tour, brewing their own beer, and future plans to hit the road. It’s a relatively quick check-in with a group who seem poised to continue to grow in positive and increasingly nuanced ways, and if you haven’t yet had the chance to dig into Thunder on the Fields, the full stream from Bandcamp is at the bottom of this post. Have at it.

Please enjoy the following Six Dumb Questions:

demon head thunder on the fields

Six Dumb Questions with Demon Head

Tell me about writing Thunder on the Fields. Was there anything in particular you wanted to bring out in the material after Ride the Wilderness? How do you feel your sound has evolved from the first album to the second?

The songs on Thunder on the Fields came quickly after recording R.T.W. — and actually a good time before its release — so they’ve been underway for some years now. As writing, recording, and producing is mostly something we do ourselves, I guess we wanted to push ourselves further and take no easy ways out. The songs themselves have more sinister vibes to them, less boogie rock-feeling, and we gradually came to work more collectively on every riff and melody. Maybe that’s the natural way a band evolves, but I think the communal aspect has grown stronger and even if it makes it harder to finish something quick, the wicked demon baby that results from it is stronger. In terms of sound, we’ve learned a lot and become more picky this time around.

What was your time in the studio like? Set the scene for the place you recorded. What was the atmosphere there and how long were you in the studio? Did you record live? What kind of equipment was used and how much time went into capturing the tones in the guitar and bass?

When we felt that Thunder on the Fields was becoming a whole thing rather than individual parts, we planned for a long time how to record it. After an initial, very intense trip of three days and nights where we recorded demos of everything in my father’s studio, we took our time to listen and feel what was missing. Then in the middle of winter last year we went back to a cabin in the countryside of Northern Sealand, and had two weeks to record drums, guitar, and bass – the basic, live tracks that we always begin with. We bought an old mixing console and got it fixed for way more than we could afford, it seemed like a coincidence too good to be true that we had it offered some weeks before recording, and with the help of some friends we transported and mounted all our Chaos Island recording in the wooden house.

Everything went into a 16-track tape recorder, and we’d studied pretty obscure recording techniques from interviews, pictures and videos of sounds we ourselves like a lot. The sound of the instruments themselves we’ve spent a long time moulding, but how to reproduce these on a recorded media is every technician’s headache – not too noisy, but not artificially clear… Thinking back now, we always have very high expectations and put an enormous effort into following our ideals of sound, feeling, and expression. We didn’t sleep very much, worked from the morning all through the night and at times way beyond what’s healthy. But what can you do when you have a burning love?

Tell me about writing “Gallow’s Omen.” So much of the record has a tighter feel to its songwriting, but that song seems to jam a bit more. How did it come about? It was the first video you made for the album. What made you want to introduce people to the record with that track particularly?

Well, actually that is very carefully planned dynamics and tones… But I’m happy if it sounds loose in a way. It’s hard to plan how to lose control or let dreams and nightmares flow; that is part of what we wanted especially in the final part of the song. We felt it represented some general themes of the new record: a sinister feeling, a blend of faster and slow parts, loads of atmosphere, and it tends to get stuck in your head. At least that’s what I think it was now, looking back.

Has there been any word on recovering the gear stolen at the Northern Discomfort Festival? What happened there?

Unfortunately not! We don’t really know what happened. Our gear was in a room behind the stage, and although it is not locked, I usually recommend touring bands stashing their gear there when the sound room itself is full – nothing has been taken from there in years, at least to my knowledge. So either someone accidentally brought the things with them, or some shady entrepreneur visited the festival sometime in the early hours of after-party and saw their chance to score some neatly packed, expensive gear. Ungdomshuset is not normally a place where people go to steal, so it’s a shame that people are exploiting good DIY policy of open doors and anarchic trust…

You’ve now got your own Demon Head Thunder on the Fields IPA beer. How did that come about? Did someone in the band brew it or is it an outside collaboration? How does it taste? Are you guys big beer drinkers generally?

That’s right! At least we had some for the release shows. Now they’re mostly gone. That’s the work of Birk, Thor and their father, who’ve recently taken up brewing. So a family business, one might say. It’s awfully good, bitter and fresh – shame they’re through… A good portion were sold, the others we’ve given away to friends who’ve helped us on the road or bringing this album come to life. We appreciate good beer since it’s one of our few vices in terms of drugs.

You had dates in Finland and May and by the time this goes up, you’ll have played Muskelrock as well. Will you tour more for Thunder on the Fields before you start writing the next album? Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?

Yes, this spring has been excellent in Sweden, Finland and now Muskelrock this last weekend. We are once again humbled by the efforts and generosity of friends and strangers…

In August, we will travel Northern Europe for two weeks, invited to a couple of festivals and joined some of the road by the incredible musical entity that is Ill Wicker from Gothenburg. Keep an eye out if you’re somewhere around the Swedish desert and a forest on the German-Czech border!

Some plans for crossing waters to the UK, Ireland, and even across the Pacific are being hatched. Get in touch if you have some ideas, or let your local booking collective know…

Songs for what will be the next album are slowly coming. We’ve been so busy these months that it has been hard to find time to be really creative. Nonetheless, we do our best to prioritise it, and we can’t wait to disappear to a cabin somewhere again.

Finally there’s not much more to say than we appreciate you, the reader, taking your time to spell through these words. Oh, and there is one more piece of vinyl with some songs coming this year on The Sign Records. Keep your ears to the ground for more rumours on that.

Love and Thunder,

Marcus & D.H.

Demon Head, Thunder on the Fields (2017)

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Baby Woodrose Post “Reality” Video Filmed at Roskilde Festival

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 5th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

baby-woodrose-Photo-Magnus-Cederlund.jpg

Considering Roskilde Festival 2017 only ended on July 1 and Danish heavy psych magnates Baby Woodrose performed that same day, it seems fair enough to call their new video fast-tracked. The clip features the song ‘Reality,’ which provided an otherworldly opening to 2016’s Freedom (review here), the band’s seventh album, released by Bad Afro Records. It was shot on multiple cameras and fluidly edited by Palle Demant, whose experience with the band includes a documentary about frontman Lorenzo Woodrose and recent videos for “21st Century Slave” (posted here) and “Open Doors” (review here), the latter of which served as the leadoff single and foreshadowed the expanded-consciousness perspective that would unfold across the record upon its arrival.

“Reality,” for its part, gets to the core of what Baby Woodrose are saying with Freedom. Their position is inherently sociopolitical, and one can hear shades of that critique even in the hook here — it’s “your” concept of reality in which Lorenzo and company refuse to believe — but there’s no taking them away from their roots in lysergic garage rock, and part of the charm of “Reality” becomes the fact that, even as it tackles issues of a mundane modernity, it sounds utterly out of place and time. Unreal, in other words. This duality shows itself too in the play between grounded structures and head-trip effects throughout Freedom, but the quality of Baby Woodrose‘s songwriting is unflinching, and as the album’s launch-point, “Reality” effectively conveys that as well.

Their Roskilde set apparently found them bathed in tripped out lighting helmed by Zeppo, and to say the least it’s a fitting setting for the song, but Demant also offers some backstage footage and scenes from the audience to give even more of a sense of the show itself. All the more impressive considering — again — it’s been less than a week since the festival actually took place. That might be a record turnaround on something that looks so outwardly professional. I’d have to go back and check the logs.

Note: there are no logs.

Point is, admirable job done by band and director. Enjoy “Reality” below:

Baby Woodrose, “Reality” official live video

Reality is taken from the Baby Woodrose album Freedom released in September 2016 on Bad Afro Records.

Shot and cut by Palle Demant // Fuzz Cake Film
Mind bending visuals by Zeppo

Reality is the first song on the Freedom album and it now has a live video. Footage is from 3 days ago when the band played at the Roskilde Festival. The video is filmed by Palle Demant who also did the Lorenzo Woodrose documentary called Born To Lose.

Freedom is the 7th album by Baby Woodrose and it was released more than four years after the previous album Third Eye Surgery came out in 2012. In the meantime Lorenzo has been busy with his other band Spids Nøgenhat who gained a lot of popularity in Denmark and won two Danish Grammies for the album “Kommer Med Fred”. Best rock album of the year and Best live band of the year.

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