Live at Roadburn
Live at Roadburn makes one thing clear above all others: Papir is not a jazz-rock band, and labeling the trio's music stoner rock is misleading, too. Without putting too fine a point on it, Papir is an instrumental rock band, with the emphasis very much on rock. A document of the first of three shows Papir performed in 2014 at The Roadburn Festival in Tilburg, The Netherlands, the seventy-eight-minute set (issued in double-vinyl, double-CD, and download formats) sees guitarist Nicklas Sørensen, bassist Christian Becher, and drummer Christoffer Brøchmann constantly pushing themselves individually and collectively.
A listener presented for the first time with the respective sounds of Causa Sui and Papir might struggle to keep them separate. Yes, the former is a quartet and the latter a trio (the presence of a keyboardist in Causa Sui the difference), but in both cases the high-volume playing of the guitarist and drummer dominate. But prolonged exposure to the groups allows their differences to come into clearer focus, a key one being the guitarists' styles: while Causa Sui's Jonas Munk does include wah-wah in his arsenal, the sound figures more prominently in Sørensen's playing, at least insofar as Live at Roadburn can be taken as representative of his style.
Arriving after four studio releases, Papir's first live album follows Causa Sui's own first official live album Live at Freak Valley by about a year. But whereas the finesse of Causa Sui's playing is perhaps best served by a studio setting, Papir's music benefits considerably from the live context. Listening to Live at Roadburn makes for a thrilling ride when the playing is so raw and visceral, and the experience of listening to it is much like that of watching a high-wire artist crossing between skyscrapers without a safety net. The Copenhagen, Denmark trio's performances are shot through with adrenaline, and the amount of heat and energy generated by their playing verges on combustible. No more proof is needed to support that contention than the trio's scalding performance of “Monday,” a cut from Papir's first El Paraiso release Stundum.
From the first moments of “Lykk Trep-R Hi- Losé ” to the dying seconds of “Sunday #2,” the three lock into position and roar through their material with equal amounts of conviction and abandon. And with Brøchmann and Becher providing a cyclonic yet still solidly solid base, Sørensen's free to unleash one searing riff after another, though the recording also features numerous lyrical episodes, too. Be that as it may, the closing minutes of “III.I” are so heavy, they could pass for Hendrix sitting in with Led Zeppelin.
Despite the fact that only one of the six tracks checks in at under ten minutes (the longest, “Sunday #2,” is almost seventeen minutes), most of the material's taken at a fast clip, and there's never a dull moment. Enhancing the release's appeal, Live at Roadburn includes two new pieces, the prosaically titled “Live I” and “Live II,” that show no diminution in the trio's blistering attack; delivered at a rapid tempo, the second one in particular stokes a seething psychedelic fire that must be heard to be believed.