Posts Tagged ‘Danish Psych’

Causa Sui – Summer Sessions (Vols I,II,III)

It’s fair to say that Causa Sui is the corner stone of Danish label El Paraiso. While the label has offered up choice slabs from faves like Mythic Sunship, Landing, Monarch, and Futuropaco in the last few years, the impetus for the label grew out of a set of records that founders Jonas Munk and Jakob Skøtt put together with their band in 2008. The group had already released two records, including the now reissued (and deservedly so) Free Ride when they decided to embark on a series of releases that explored their various Venn diagrams of psychedelic interest. Heavily featuring saxophonist Rasmus Rasmussen, the set veers through desert psych — dredging up visions of Kyuss and Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions — to a free jazz bite and Kosmiche float. The originals would see light on Germany’s Elektrohasch Schallplatten, and the money from those records would help found El Paraiso as we know it today.

What’s striking, listening back after nearly a decade, is that the set of three records sounds as timeless as anything in the band’s catalog or on the label’s roster. While the sidelong crusher “Visions of Summer” trades in some liquid stringwork, a la Ripley Johnson, it more directly nods to Future Days’ crossbreed of Krautrock and Dead-indebted exploratory jams. Each of the LPs winds between face-melter psychedelia and more nuanced visions of Ash Ra Temple’s tangle, 70’s Miles mind expansion, and Blue Cheer’s bottom-end fuzz rumble. Live favorite “Rip Tide” tears at the psyche with molten guitars and Rasmussen’s relentless sax. The third LP is more languid, melting into pools of shimmer, but it’s still occasionally beset by the band’s flash paper burn of guitar.

There’s a very good chance that these sessions escaped your view when they were first offered up, so now’s probably a good time to go for the deep dive and let the band’s exploratory vision wash over you. They even have a nifty box that ties up all three in a great Skøtt-designed sleeve, looking neat and prim like all El Paraiso offerings. It’s recommended going deep on this set and finding some forgotten gems.



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Day of Phoenix – Wide Open N-Way

Despite calling a heavy host of West Coast Cali-psych their pocket of influence, the Danes behind Day of Phoenix manage to adapt the sound to a less sunny climate with a good dose of melancholy. The band admittedly emulates Clear Light, Love and The Doors, so there’s certainly a focus on the darker side of that sound to begin with, but they manage to focus in on the starkest ends of the “Summer of Love” to create their own sighed signature. There’s an excellently subdued quality to the record, full of great riffs, but fuller still of a dark, clouded atmosphere that’s putting out a closed off and sullen vibe – an antidote to all the peace and love coming out of their American counterparts.

Day of Phoenix wound up opening for Colosseum when they were playing Denmark and impressed the band’s bassist Tony Reeves, who wound up producing this as well as a follow-up album. That seemed to cap productivity for the band though, save for a preceding single of covers with a different lineup. This album alone marks them as one of the strongest of their particular time and place, though. The band’s original member Cy Nicklin would leave before this album and transition to the more well known Culpeper’s Orchard, though the rest of the band seemed to dissipate after the slow reaction to their sophomore LP. Vinilisssimo does the original pressing good, reproducing the album’s harem shot that’s bringing to mind some Town and Country vibes.




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Design Inspiration: Jakob Skøtt

For the third installment of the site’s Design Inspiration series, I’m focusing on Jakob Skøtt, who wears triple hats at the excellent Danish label, El Paraiso Records. Skøtt is co-owner, member of the band Causa Sui and chief designer of the label’s aesthetic. That aesthetic struck me immediately as being one of the most cohesive and attractive since Sacred Bones took up arms 10 years ago. Like SB, the label hearkens back to the idea of library sleeves or serialized jazz, tying their catalog together through crisp typography and the faded hues of Skøtt’s paintings. There are very few labels that I stumble upon and immediately want to buy wholesale on sleeve art alone but El Paraiso makes the case for buying blind and assuming a quality product. Below are Jakob’s picks for his five favorite album covers.

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Mythic Sunship

Admittedly it’s been a good year for psych, with plenty of releases edging their way up into album of the year territory. Now there’s another one to add to the list, Copenhagen’s Mythic Sunship brings crushing doom-psych vibes on their second album for El Paraiso. The album is built around two extended cuts pushing past the 13-minute mark and using every second to build an aura of creeping dread. They touch through the same scorched valleys as contemporaries Hills or The Cosmic Dead, but they seem to push further into a taut, propulsive landscape of slow simmer psychedelics. Mythic Sunship also takes a cue from prog in their ability to ‘world-build’ the songs into instrumental narratives that rise and fall with eddies of calm that lead into nighttime raids of incendiary guitar.

Lying in wait under one of El Paraiso’s trademark hand-painted sleeves courtesy of Jakob Skøtt, it’s an all around beautiful package from design to aural heft. Perhaps the best litmus of how heavy the band hits, though is who they’ve been playing with. A resume of opening slots for the likes of Träd Gräs och Stenar, Moon Duo and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard doesn’t speak lightly about their ability to level an audience. They harness the feedback fuzz, the metal stomp bass and tank tread thunder of drums and they’re doing it with a dark entropy that’s heads above many who step into this genre. Where most would skew too stark or too flashy, the band balances restraint and power in equal fistfuls. For my money, you’re gonna be hard pressed to find another album quite as devastating and nuanced this year.




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