Papir are the Danish instrumental trio of Nicklas Sorensen on guitar, Christian Becher Clausen on bass, and Christoffer Brochmann Christensen on drums. IIII is their (surprise!) fourth album and the follow up to last year’s III, with an excellent collaboration album with Germany’s Electric Moon titled The Papermoon Sessions falling in between. The album consists of four tracks, all numbered rather than named, and is around 47 minutes in length.
Three of the tracks feature a gorgeously, psychedelically melodic Papir, with both the guitar and bass laying down uplifting parallel melodies. In fact, the bass focus on melody often leaves drummer Brochmann as the principle rhythmic driver, a task he handles like a skilled navigator. I love the way the band sweep the listener along like cosmic pied pipers, falling somewhere on the dreamy psychedelic/Shoegaze axis, and oh so gradually building up to periodic acid-stoned blasts of heavy rock. My “holy shit”!! favorite track of the set is the 22 minute epic third cut. Much of it brings to mind a convergence of Ash Ra Tempel and the Grateful Dead, injected with a magical jazz and dance groove serum. Sorensen’s guitar trips along in killer jamming space while Brochmann pounds away relentlessly, and Clausen’s bass leads at times are so low end and penetrating that I wonder if he’s preparing for a spot in a new lineup of Magma. There’s lots happening here and what starts off with an improvisational feel slowly builds up to a monstrously shattering, tightly arranged psych-prog rocking tour de force. All in all we’re treated to high energy rock, mystical lysergic enchantment, and cool grooving improvisational wonder, all wrapped up in one spellbinding magic carpet ride.
I can easily see Papir appealing to a variety of psychedelically inclined audiences. On the one hand they are tailor made for fans of extended improvisational excursions, the likes of which made them such an appropriate pairing for Electric Moon. The Shoegaze crowd would surely dig them, though there’s far more activity and elusive sophistication in Papir’s constructions than the typical Shoegaze band. I also see the Godspeed/Sigur Ros crowd enjoying Papir. Papir rocks harder than either of those bands, but what they share in common is the slowly developing, majestic soaring reach of their music, and a cinematic sense of heartfelt passion. This will be the first entry in my Best of 2014 list.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz