Causa Sui: Return To Sky
So what's the best way to follow up a fantastic, career-defining album like 2013's Euporie Tide? If you're Causa Sui, you don't overthink it: you write some tunes, run through'em a bunch of times, and then hit the studio and lay the material down while it's fresh. Forget dithering over whether the music's post-rock, krautrock, or psychedelic rock; simply call Return To Sky instrumental rock and get on with it. Labels matter little when the music burns with the kind of intensity it does here.
Produced by Jonas Munk, the five-track set sees the guitarist, keyboardist Rasmus Rasmussen, bassist Jess Kahr, and drummer Jakob Skøtt powering their way through forty-five minutes of pure Causa Sui material. The four by now have achieved an unforced and natural cohesiveness that makes playing together as effortless as it is satisfying. While the band is a central concern for all involved, each member has other irons in the fire, all of which feeds back into the group project when they reconvene.
With ten minutes to work with, it doesn't surprise that the opening “Dust Meridian” passes through many stages before reaching its destination. Following a thunderous introductory section animated by a guitar riff of elephantine size, the band seemingly exits the studio, hops in the car, and takes a spin through the Swedish countryside to breathe in fresh air and absorb the scenery. “The Source” serves up six minutes of sludge rock that reveals why the stoner rock label's been affixed to Causa Sui a good many times. Unlike some bands that favour high-pitched wail, Munk and company go for bruising, low-end riffs that give the music a deliciously raw feel, and the track also shows that in amongst whatever else one might hear in Causa Sui's mix there's a place for Nirvana-styled noise, too.
Having dedicated side one to three generally heavy pieces, the group dials it down slightly for the flip with two settings of somewhat pastoral character. A warm breeze blows through “Dawn Passage” as the band works its way through a series of harmonious chord progressions before briefly giving way to its furious side. More than any other track on the album, “Dawn Passage” grants Munk ample room to maneuver, which he does by alternating between textural shadings, Morricone-styled twang, and snarling riffs. At album's end, the title cut serves up eleven minutes of rapid wardrobe changes, the band quickly segueing from peaceful, minimalism-inflected quietude to trippy, psychedelic sprawl in a flash.
The two comparatively less heavy pieces that end the album suggest that the band clearly conceived Return To Sky in vinyl terms, with contrasting dynamics and volume levels earmarking the two sides. Whereas another instrumental group's playing might seem tentative and overly methodical, Causa Sui's feels spontaneous, even unscripted, despite the fact that there are clear compositional guidelines in place, and episodes of slightly different genre cast flow into one another so smoothly the listener begins to take for granted just how deftly such transitions are executed.