Papir: Papir III
El Paraiso Records

In place of post-rock's polish, Copenhagen, Denmark trio Papir oft traffics in fire music, volcanic freakouts that feel lethal to the touch. Produced by Jonas Munk and laid down over a single week in a small house in the Danish countryside, the third album from drummer Christoffer Brøchmann, guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, and bassist Christian Becher Clausen infuses a psychedelic-rock attack with Hendrixian wah-wah as it powers its way through five settings. The group's unfussy approach even extends to the track titles, which are identified by nothing more than number (“Papir III.II” vs. “Papir III.IIII,” for example).

It takes but thirteen seconds for the trio to lock into the opening track's blissed-out theme before plunging deeper at the one-minute mark. Sørensen and Brøchmann attack the music with ferocity, leaving it to Clausen to keep the music from imploding by grounding it with a steady bass presence. Halfway through this album standout, Sørensen takes flight with searing wah-wah and an awesome psychedelic roar before returning to the trippy theme. The second piece opens restrainedly, a move that allows the melodic side of Sørensen's playing to come to the forefront, though the band being the kind of fireball it naturally is, the music can't help but swell in volume and aggression as the minutes pass.

A more placid and atmospheric dimension of Papir's sound is captured in the third piece, a soundscape whose pastoral nature one imagines matches the setting where the album was laid down, while the fourth overlays a krautrock groove with guitar melodies that ooze a hint of Eastern flavour. While satisfying enough, the two don't leave as strong an impression on the listener, perhaps because they lack the abandon and high energy of the framing tracks. It's the fifteen-minute closer in particular that shows the band's attack at its most extreme, especially when a near-metal episode segues into a psychedelic, Mahavishnu-esque roar so explosive it almost sees the music splintering apart. In such a case, the performance is so bruising and intense, it's more like what one would encounter in a concert setting rather than one recorded in the Danish countryside, even if the album's tracks are presumably live takes. Regardless, Papir III makes your average post-rock outing sound like some polite chamber act performing at tea-time on Sunday.

March 2013