Nicklas Sørensen: Solo 2
El Paraiso Records

The album and track titles of Nicklas Sørensen's second solo effort might be rather prosaic, colourless even, but the six tracks are anything but. On this splendid set, Papir's guitarist serves up expansive vistas of blissed-out Balearic splendour, the material an antidote for tumultuous times. Produced in collaboration with Causa Sui's Jonas Munk in his Odense studio, the album's one of those prototypical solo recordings where the artist has written and performed everything, using multi-tracking to build the material from the ground up. Electric and acoustic guitars are abundant, but so too are synthesizers and drum machines.

Sørensen immediately establishes the album's breezy, sundappled vibe with 2.1, a vaguely Bossa nova-styled excursion that underlays chiming guitar figures with a lightly skipping beat. For six blissful minutes, shimmering washes go hand-in-hand with melodic guitar phrases and warm waves of analog synths. There's a quietly invigorating magic in the air during this lovely opening salvo, but it's merely the first of many pleasurable moments the project brings.

Elevated by its seductively soothing melodies and gorgeous chord changes, 2.3 might be the loveliest thing here; there are times, too, when its meditative swoon calls to mind Björn Olsson's Instrumental Music ... To Submerge In ... Or Disappear Through, another equally satisfying guitar-based instrumental collection (issued in 1999 on Omplatten). There's a distinctly kosmische side to Solo 2 as well, which comes through in the repetitive guitar patterns that course entrancingly through 2.2; a few parts suggest a Manuel Göttsching influence, but never so much that Sørensen comes off as an imitator. The material takes a rather surprising turn during 2.5 when it veers into Indian raga territory and Sørensen's slide playing takes on the quality of a sitar, after which the album ends with an eleven-minute New age meditation, all limpid, crystalline guitar expressions and placid, effects-laden drift.

If you're living in my part of the world, Sørensen's album arrives in the thick of a chilly winter and is therefore all the more welcome for doing so. Solo 2 isn't a panacea, but it certainly alleviates the gloom and invigorates the soul with its summery uplift.

February 2018