Papir - "Stundum"
(El Paraiso Records 2011, EPR007)
From Aural Innovations #43 (October 2011)
It would not be unfair to say that 2011 has not been a great year for my sound system at home to be blessed with many truly classic slices of original psychedelic rock. How exciting then to receive this unexpected CD by Danish band Papir in the mail, along with a one page fact sheet introducing their music. Stundum (possible translation: "Sometimes") is the second album by Papir, a young three piece band from Copenhagen (their music calls to mind visions of grey-bearded and longhaired American hippies, yet website photos reveal the band to be young guys still in their 20's), and their first release for El Paraiso Records, a label created by fellow Danish power trio Causa Sui. In fact, the album was produced by Causa Sui guitarist Jonas Munk, whose band provide Papir with their closest musical touchstone. Anyone who found CS's Summer Sessions Volume One to be a thrilling sonic experience needs to have a copy of Stundum, and at times Papir actually threaten to overshadow their mentors.
Composed of a mere six tracks, Stundum runs to a full 79 minutes, and will be released on the 28th of November in 2xLP, CD and digital download formats. Information on the cardboard slipcase is minimal, and track titles are simply listed as days of the week, e.g. Sunday #2, Tuesday #1, etc. In their press release, the band correctly eschews the traditional pigeonholes of krautrock, prog-rock, spacerock and stoner rock, while admitting to retaining elements of all these nebulous and intersecting genres. Influences cited by the band include Can and electric Miles Davis (Stundum is semi-improvised, with a few extra layers of guitar and percussion overdubbed onto the frenzied three-piece jams), as well as German guitar legends Manuel Gottsching (specifically the two extended freakouts on the first Ash Ra Tempel album) and Michael Rother (as heard on the crushing and thoroughly atypical early Kraftwerk bootleg K2). While it could not be said that there is much in the way of blues-based rock on Strundum, there are clear echoes of heads-down Clapton/Bruce/Baker live Cream improvisations and the interstellar excursions of Hendrix at his most experimental ("1983 .... A Merman I Should Turn To Be", "Third Stone From The Sun").
With their minimalistic track titles, organically-evolving song structures and many mood shifts, it is scarcely appropriate to attempt a track-by-track analysis of Stundum. While there are thundering riffs and soaring wah-wah passages, it is by no means all sturm und drang, with numerous atmostheric break-down passages and even elements of Czukay/Liebzeit rhythm-section funkiness. From the opening cymbal crashes, locked bass grooves and soaring guitar of Sunday #1 to the ambient drones of (relatively) brief epilogue Tuesday #2, there are simply no boring bits on Stundum. Neither is there any sign of overblown histrionic pretension. However, there is plenty of enormous, and brilliantly executed, psychedelic guitar rock which demands frequent and repeated listening. For me, Papir are strong contenders for discovery of the year, and their album will likely receive regular block-bookings on my CD player. I can hardly wait for the follow-up!
For further information, visit www.elparaisorecords.com or www.cargorecords.co.uk (distributors for El Paraiso)
Email the band and label at: email@example.com
Reviewed by Pat Albertson