Papir are one of the premier three-piece rock bands working today. The trio of Nicklas Sørensen, Christoffer Brøchmann Christensen, and Christian Becher Clausen have been working their sound into a tight, ethereal crunch for close to ten years now. Part fuzzed-out blasts of psych and post-rock, while other moments glimmer and shine with daydream bliss, Papir do more with three guys than some bands do with a stage full of musicians.
For years the Copenhagen three-piece have put out otherworldly, epic albums with El Paraiso Records. Albums like Stundum, III and IV are absolute classics(music scholars will teach college courses on them in the future.) In 2017 they made the jump to Stickman Records and released the massive V. 90 minutes of instrumental rock and roll that shifted from psych to Krautrock to post-rock soundscapes. It was a dense, heady piece of musical art. For their follow-up, Papir are keeping things much leaner, but no less heady. VI is 4 tracks under 40 minutes that float along shimmering guitar lines with a rock solid rhythm section. That drum and bass foundation keep the songs earthbound, which allows Nicklas Sorensen’s guitar to tow the line between this realm and the next.
Papir have been pretty consistent in their album titles and song titles, with both being represented by roman numerals since III. VI is no different. Keeping titles to a very utilitarian form allows the listener to put their own vision on the sound. No fussy nouns, verbs, and adjectives steering us in some conceptual direction. We the listener are allowed to world build on our own to the sounds pumping into our brains. This makes jumping into the musical universe of Papir an even more engaging experience.
There’s a very swinging, groovy aspect to Papir’s sound that pops up within their discography. It may not necessarily be a thru-line in their sound, but it’s most certainly a sonic flavor that hits the palate consistently. “VI.I” opens up with it and rides that vibe throughout the track’s ten minute run time. That solid rhythm section of Christensen and Clausen provide a well-cemented platform for Sorensen to get absolutely ethereal with his guitar. This track sings with a otherworldly jangle, bringing to mind wide open spaces and boundless skies.
“VI.II” opens on an almost march built on a chugging bass line and shimmering cymbals. There’s a giddiness in the sound of the guitar as it builds with the almost Stewart Copeland-like drums. It’s a wonder to me how a band can sound so heavy with such a clean sound. Soon enough though the clean explodes into a fury of fuzzed-out guitar, bass and a flurry of crashing china. It’s a stunning meltdown.
“VI.III” begins as floating notes in the air, like the best of the early 70s Berlin School. Soon enough the drums and bass kick in to give the song some rhythmic muscle. The guitar continues to echo and hang in the air like distant thoughts stuck on repeat. A song feeding into itself, building on what sounds like thin air. Part ambient textures and part rock and roll might.
“VI.IV” closes VI out with a roar. It’s as if The Police were given a shot of adrenaline; the meticulous drums and rock steady bass coalesce with an almost Hendrix-meets-Rother sonic explosion. A mixture of Jimi Hendrix’ all feel style with Michael Rother’s angular Komische tendencies. Everything comes together in a beautifully scattered frenzy. If Regatta de Blanc had been recorded in the heart of Berlin, it might’ve sounded just like this amazing track.
VI continues Papir’s trend of absolute greatness. Four songs under 40 minutes, but it feels as if you’ve traveled the very span of time and space. Another sonic triumph for the Copenhagen three-piece.
Grab a copy of VI here.