Review & Track Premiere: Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas

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.

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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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One Response to “Review & Track Premiere: Causa Sui, Vibraciones Doradas

  1. Blake T says:

    Great review for what I’m sure will be another great album, from a great band!

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