Album Review: Papir – IIII

Not too long ago I found this little slice of musical heaven located in Denmark. It’s a little record label that goes by
the name of El Paraiso Records. It was started by some guys in a band called Causa Sui in order to release their records to the listening public. As well as releasing Causa Sui records, El Paraiso releases records by Jonas Munk and Jakob Skott(both members of Causa Sui), California’s Psicomagia, Sun River, and a little band called Papir. Papir, along with most of what comes out of El Paraiso Records dabble in long, dreamy, and sometimes jammy soundscapes much like Causa Sui. But for the past three years or so Papir have been refining their sound; whittling, reshaping, tearing it down, and building it back up again. They have mastered the art of extended jams and have transcended it into something much deeper and bigger than their collective universe. They have released IIII, a year to the day they gave the world III and it only goes to prove that each time out Papir get better.

From the El Paraiso website: “As a unit the three members achieve what the great power trios of the 1960s did at their most fertile: the ability to combine each aspect of the band into a whole that surpasses the sum of its parts.” This is a great way to sum up Papir. They create these part improv/part structured long form pieces of music and take the listener on a journey. Like past records, these pieces are segregated into a handful of soundscapes. On IIII they are divided into four songs, “IIII.I”, “IIII.II”, “IIII.III”, and “IIII.IIII”. Each of these tracks are distinct in mood and where they take you. They are instrumental, yes. And they are created using the same formula each time which is guitar, bass, and drums. But within the confines of a rock trio they make a sound that rivals even the great Explosions in The Sky. Where EiTS have a certain melodrama and pomposity in their songs, Papir seem much more looser. This looseness carries the nearly 22 minutes of “IIII.III” along freely, and you never once feel like checking the clock. Within it there are ebbs and flows; movements and great dynamics in volume and intensity. Spidery guitar lines interweave with the bass, and they both are carried along by Christoffer Brøchmann’s intense drumming. “IIII.I” is light-hearted and breezy, like a pleasant wind coming off the Danish Straits. Nicklas Sørensen does some amazing guitar playing that brings to mind Michael Rother, and even John McLaughlin. Christian Becher Clausen’s bass is ever present throughout the proceedings, always moving and always pushing the song forward. “IIII.II” starts out slow and builds, like some of the best Mogwai bits over the last 10 years. Pretty soon the song explodes into a ball of cymbal fire and blistering guitar lines that ascend to the Heavens. It’s bombast at its finest. “IIII.IIII” is the shortest track and a hazy beauty. Delayed guitar flutters overhead as tribal drums and a steady bass line anchor the song to earth. We’re left to float above like a kite looking down on the hand holding our string.

Papir have created yet another masterpiece from somewhere in Denmark. If bands like NEU!, Can, Explosions in The Sky, and Mogwai make you smile from the inside out do yourself a favor and find IIII. Once you’re in love, find III and Stundum. You’ll thank me. And you’ll most certainly thank Papir.


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