Papir: V
Stickman Records

It's hard to believe that only three individuals—guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, bassist Christian Becher, and drummer Christoffer Brøchmann—are responsible for Papir's expansive sound, yet so it is; perhaps even harder to believe is that all the guitar parts on its fifth full-length release are by Sørensen alone. More importantly, V, it's probably safe to say, is the most definitive statement to date by the Copenhagen power trio. A double vinyl set, the release spreads six tracks across four twelve-inch sides, with only one under ten minutes and the longest fifteen (an epic twenty-five-minute seventh track is included as a download with the vinyl set, whereas all seven appear on the double-CD release).

Though labels such as space-rock, stoner-rock, and post-rock have been used to describe Papir's sound, psych-rock is arguably better, given the trio's propensity for trippy, free-flowing instrumentals. Related styles also surface, however, whether it be the krautrock pulse driving the panoramic “V.II” or the tremolo-heavy shoegaze nurtured by the group during “V.VI.” Whereas some of the tracks are pitched at the level of a roar, the blissed-out “V.IV” entrances in alternating between episodes of psychedelic ecstasy and atmospheric swoon. Not surprisingly, the trio opts for a more relaxed delivery on “V.VII,” the three content to take their time when the journey is so lengthy.

The trio's playing on this collection impresses as both remarkably tight and sure-footed, even when Papir's spacious tunes stretch out for twelve to fourteen minutes at a time. Throughout the recording, Brøchmann and Becher never falter in laying down an unerring foundation for Sørensen, who demonstrates an encyclopedic command of different guitar styles and techniques on the seven tracks. That the three make what they do seem effortless is a testament to the skill each brings to the collective undertaking; it's no easy thing to operate at such a high level of interplay for, say, fifteen minutes without a single misstep arising. It also bears worth mentioning that Tortoise's John McEntire mixed the release, and though he might not physically contribute to V as a performer its material has the kind of polish and finesse we've come to associate with the Chicago-based outfit's own releases.

September 2017