Papir: Stundum
El Paraiso Records

Speciailizing in a high-octane brand of semi-improvisational psychedelic rock, Papir is a Copenhagen, Denmark power trio that's clearly unafraid of stretching out, given that four of Stundum's six tracks push past the fourteen-minute mark. The eighty-minute release clearly shows that drummer Christoffer Brøchmann, guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, and bassist Christian Becher Clausen are as comfortable indulging in metal-drenched freakouts (the closing moments of “Sunday #1”) as they are funk-styled jams (“Saturday”) and fluid dreamscapes (“Tuesday #1”). Recorded over a five-day span in December 2010, the album was recorded with producer Jonas Munk (aka Manual and Causa Sui member) and has been officially issued as part of the El Paraiso label's improvisation-oriented Impetus series.

The heat the three generate can be, frankly, awesome—check out the raging infernos they stoke during “Monday” and “Sunday #2” (and near-meltdown in “Tuesday #1”) as representative examples—and as impressive as their ability to crank it up at a moment's notice is how smoothly they're able to adjust the intensity level as they segue from one episode to the next. In the long-form travelogues especially, the three move unitedly through episodes of euphoric abandon, fuzzed-out psychedelia, and drone-styled moodscaping. During “Saturday,” for instance, Sørensen goes heavy on Hendrix-styled wah-wah, his wail lifting the others into the stratosphere in a wild free-for-all before descending slowly back to earth and a return to the funky theme with which the track began.

There's a high-wire feel to the material, as the trio's free-form abandon sometimes makes it feel as if it might at any second come apart at the seams. But they always manage to land on their feet, no doubt because of the song structures that've been sketched out beforehand and serve as organizing toeholds. And despite the extended time-frames and its quasi-improvised character, Papir's material never settles for listless meander but instead keeps constantly moving and developing. Listening to the album, it would be easy to haul out the usual labels—post-rock, krautrock, space-rock, and psychedelic rock among them—but, in this case, the trio's genre-transcending playing would make doing so seem overly reductive.

January 2012