It seems that Denmark is much cooler than I ever thought possible. The reason for this newfound revelation? El Paraiso Records.
El Paraiso is a Danish record company run by Jonas Munk and Jakob Skott. These two fellows are in the incredible band Causa Sui, as well as putting out stellar records under their own names. It seems they started the label so they could release their own music, and in the interim have begun releasing records by other like-minded bands. On their website it says this: “El Paraiso is all about eco-friendly high quality vinyl.” That’s really all I needed to read to become a fan of this company, but I found that only after I fell hard for their artists, their sound, and their aesthetic.
The first band I came across that was connected to El Paraiso was their flagship band Causa Sui. When I first heard them I imagined what it would’ve sounded like if Miles Davis’ electric band circa 1970 decided to jam with The Allman Brothers Band circa 1968. It’s this very free-flowing improvisational vibe, very much in the vein of electric Miles. But unlike Miles “out there” improvisations the vibe remains relatively upbeat with Causa Sui. It goes from this, at times, soaring Explosions in The Sky feel to downright Sabbath-like riffs. The songs are long but you never stop and look at the clock wondering when it’s gonna end. It’s really some of the best instrumental music I’ve heard in quite a long time. Every once in a while I hear a new band(new to me, anyways) that puts a fire in me. It reignites that musical torch as it were and gets me excited about music again. Causa Sui has done that. Their newest album Euporie Tide is a plethora of steady jams, musical explorations, and hazy ambient soundscapes. But if you dig a little deeper you’ll find their Summer Sessions Volume 1-3 and be prepared for some Can-like jams and experimentation. It’s some of the most vital, organic rock music I’ve heard in years. Pewter Session 1 and 2 are more of the same. Really, I can’t speak highly enough of this band. But that’s just the beginning…
Jakob Skott is the drummer for Causa Sui and he put out the album Doppler a couple years ago. It’s an electronic album in the sense
of warm, bubbly analog synths, bleeps and blips, and robotic soundscapes that bring to mind Boards of Canada and Stereolab. Imagine Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, and Vangelis collaborating and you might have an idea of what Doppler sounds like. Skott has a new album coming out March 17th. I’ve heard one track and am really excited for this one.
Jonas Munk is the guitarist in Causa Sui and he plays it well. He also moonlights as an electronic musician and released the incredible Pan on El Paraiso. Ambient electronic music, much like his friend and collaborator Ulrich Schnauss. At times his music has the airiness of NEU!, and some of that BoC magic his bandmate Jakob Skott taps into. He also performs under the name Manual, which he describes as “ambient dream pop and indietronica”. Whatever you call it, it’s pretty damn great.
Last but not least I’ve been obsessing over Psicomagia, a California psych band that will melt your frontal lobe if you give them a chance. I’ve been listening to their self-titled, 4-song debut and it kills me every time. Somewhere between Pete Cosey-era Miles Davis, Can, and some of Mars Volta’s more intense moments. The band consists of members of Astra and Radio Moscow and I think this band stands up to both of those powerhouses. They are very much in the vein of El Paraiso’s wheelhouse, which is probably why they released Psicomagia’s album. Bravo, fellas. Bravo.
All right, so I’ve said my peace. El Paraiso is one of the most impressive record labels I’ve come across in quite some time. They release solid albums by impeccable artists. Papir and Sun River round out one of the best line-ups a record label could ask for. The packaging is second to none, with much of the artwork created by Jakob Skott himself. With his vision shown on album cover after album cover it feels like this running artistic vision throughout each of the artists. It feels like a very organic, homegrown kind of thing they’ve got going on over there in Denmark. I can’t say enough about the love and care these guys put into their vinyl releases. Each release is not only music, but a piece of art. El Paraiso has it going on.
Check them out here.