Landing: Third Sight
El Paraiso Records

Mythic Sunship: Ouroboros
El Paraiso Records

There was a time when, rightly or wrongly, I thought of El Paraiso Records as primarily an outlet for the work of Causa Sui and its members' solo projects. No longer: in recent days, the label's roster has increased dramatically, and during the past year alone albums by Shiggajon, Brian Ellis, and Nicklas Sorensen have appeared alongside new material by Papir, Jakob Skott, and Causa Sui itself. Reflecting the breadth of material now appearing on the label are recent collections by Mythic Sunship and Landing, the first a veritable fireball and the second a comparatively more restrained exercise in psychedelic pastoralia.

Had anyone told me Causa Sui's intensity could be exceeded, I would have been doubtful, but the massive heat generated by the Copenhagen quartet Mythic Sunship must be heard to be believed. Ouroboros, the band's debut album is, in a word, exhilarating, an awesome three-track plunge into roiling guitar atmospherics and bass-and-drum thunder. Perfectly designed for a vinyl presentation, the album (available as a download and in a vinyl edition of 500) follows two ten- and fourteen-minute throwdowns with the twenty-two-minute “Leviathan,” as aptly titled as a track could conceivably be. A healthy dose of wail and wah-wah amps up the psychedelic character of the soaring opener “Ophidian Rising,” after which the seething “Year of the Serpent” sees the band pushing its sound to an even greater extreme. But however lethal they are, they feel like warm-ups once “Leviathan” takes over. Mythic Sunship scales this particular mountain a number of times, and each time the music grows in force. There's enough primal snarl and hellacious low-end on this epic brain-addler to power an army, and at a loud volume the effect is almost frightening.

Drenched in guitar fuzz and smolder, the group's volcanic sound is raw but appealingly so, and while there are times when the ferocious playing feels like it might go off the rails at any moment, the band somehow manages to hold things together. Regardless of whatever associations with cosmic jazz the band name engenders (Sun Ra most naturally), Mythic Sunship is assuredly not a jazz outfit, even if it its members do play with the kind of abandon more associated with free jazz than rock. Ouroboros is guaranteed to appeal to fans who can't get enough of the guitar-fueled instrumentals of Hedvig Mollestad Trio and, yes, Causa Sui.

Were Mythic Sunship and Landing paired in a live double-bill, it's the latter that would be the better stage-setter. But when experienced on record, it's Third Sight (available as a download and in a transparent green edition of 750 vinyl copies) that's best heard second, simply because Landing's tranquil material acts as such a soothing come-down to Ouroboros's uproar. Landing's been around awhile, having issued material on a whole host of labels since 2001, among them Strange Attractors Audio House, Equation Records, and Geographic North, and as such has reached a stage in its development where it contentedly follows its own muse and lets others go where they will.

The New Haven, Connecticut-based quartet (Aaron Snow, Adrienne Snow, Daron Gardner, John Miller) describes its sound as “pedal-based psychedelic music,” which is probably as good a description as any. By emphasizing guitars over synthesizers, the band downplays whatever kosmische associations might otherwise arise and in turn ties itself closer to shoegaze, albeit shoegaze of a particularly laid-back kind. The group amplifies the dream-like quality of its sound on Third Sight by creating a sense of uninterrupted flow between the album's four pieces, even if the transition from the second to third requires flipping the vinyl. “Delusion Sound” inaugurates the set with a slow-motion pulse, fuzzed-out atmospherics, and a soft male vocal, all of it designed to calm the nerves than induce seizures, after which the instrumental title track and “Facing South” serve up easily digestible meditations. The closing piece, “Morning Sun,” conjures a placid dreamscape filled with burbling synthesizers and spidery guitars before Snow unexpectedly enters with a delicate vocal straight out of Lali Puna. In truth, there are times when Third Sight's ambient guitar interplay could be mistaken for Windy & Carl, though that's hardly a bad thing. Slow-burn never felt so good.

August 2016