NICKLAS SORENSEN-SOLO.

NICKLAS SORENSEN-SOLO.

Back in late 2010, Copenhagen based instrumental rock trio Papir, released their eponymous debut album. Papir was released to critical acclaim, and in the process, launched the career of one of the rising stars of the Nordic music scene. 

A year later, in 2011, Papir returned with their sophomore album Stundum. It was the first album Papir released on El Paraiso Records. Stundum featured Papir’s unique fusion of Krautrock, psychedelia and space rock. Again, this met with the approval of critics.  They forecast a bright future for Papir, who it seemed, were beginning to make inroads into the vibrant Nordic music scene.

Over the next couple of years, Papir continued to tour. There was no shortcuts to success. Papir had to do what bands had been doing for over fifty years, play live. They embarked upon a gruelling schedule, touring the length and breath of Denmark, and sometimes further afield.  From concert halls to festivals, Papir continued to hone and refined their sound. This all made Papir a much better band by the time they came to release their third album.

Papir returned in 2013 with not one, but two albums.  This included their third album, II. Then later in 2013, Papir released their collaboration with fellow space rockers Electric Moon, The Papermoon Sessions. The album was released on Dave Schmidt’s Sulatron-Records, and helped introduce Papir’s music to a new audience. 

Buoyed by the success of III and The Papermoon Sessions,  Papir prepared to release their fourth studio album. In true Led Zeppelin style, Papir’s fourth album was simply entitled IIII.  It was released on 11th February 2014, and hailed as the finest album of Papir’s four year recording career. The Copenhagen based trio had come a long way in just four years.

2015 saw Papir release another two albums. They released their second collaboration with Electric Moon. The second in the Papir Meets Electric Moon series was a live album,  The Papermoon Sessions Live At Roadburn 2014. Then later in 2015, Papir released their first solo live album, Live At Roadburn. It was a tantalising taste of Papir live as they combined Krautrock, psychedelia and space rock. They were fast becoming one of the success stories of the Danish music scene. Despite that, one of the members of Papir was longing to try something different musically.

The musician in question was Papir’s guitarist Nicklas Sørensen. For some time, he had been toying with recording a solo album. This would allow him to experiment musically. So Nicklas Sørensen and a few friends entered the studio, and recorded six new songs. These six songs became Solo, Nicklas Sørensen’s debut solo album. Solo was recently released by El Paraiso Records, and showcases another side to Nicklas Sørensen.

Having made the decision to record his debut solo album, and told the other members of Papir his plan, Nicklas Sørensen began work on what became Solo.

For Solo, Nicklas Sørensen wrote six instrumentals. They were recorded at TABF Studio. This is El Paraiso Records’ newly built studio. It’s where a few friends joined guitarist and synth player Nicklas Sørensen. This included Papir’s rhythm section of drummer and percussionist Christoffer Brøchmann Christensenand and bassist Christian Becher Clausen. The final member of piece of the jigsaw was Causa Sui’s Jonas Munk. He added additional synths and electronics; and recorded two tracks. Peter Sloth recorded the other four tracks. However, it was Nicklas Sørensen and Jonas Munk that produced Solo, which was ready for release in late February 2016. 

When Nicklas Sørensen released Solo, those that were familiar with Papir’s music, wondered if his debut solo album was going to have a similar hard rocking style? They were in for a surprise as Solo unfolded.

Solo 1 opens Nicklas Sørensen’s Solo. Straight away, Nicklas’ love of Krautrock shines through as the rhythm section lock into a groove. The bass is to the fore, as the rhythm section provide a hypnotic backdrop for Nicklas’ crystalline, shimmering guitar. Already, there’s a nod to guitarist Michael Rother of Kraftwerk, Neu! and Harmonia. That’s no surprise. Harmonia are one of the groups that have influenced Papir. Soon though, it’s all change, and drums pound creating a mesmeric backdrop. To that, Nicklas adds his glistening guitar and later, washes of synths. It’s a potent and heady brew. Later, the arrangement is stripped bare, and just the rhythm section remain. Then it’s time for Nicklas to return on this joyous, hypnotic and euphoric homage to classic Krautrock.

As Solo 2 begins, ominous, dramatic drums play. Meanwhile,  Nicklas slowly and deliberately strums his guitar,  producing shimmering, glistening washes of beautiful music. It’s joined by subtle washes of synths brief bursts of cymbals. They crash, rinse and resonate. By then, there’s a hypnotic, almost primal sound to the drums. By comparison, Nicklas’ guitar is akin to washes of ethereal beauty. They wash over the listener, as even the mesmeric drums proves comforting. Later, effects are briefly added to the guitar, transforming the sound. This adds an element of drama. Soon, normal service is resumed, and the ethereal beauty of this neo-ambient soundscape returns, before reaching a crescendo.

A shaker is joined by guitars on Solo 3. Just like previous tracks, Nicklas’ chiming guitar has a crystalline sound. It glistens and shimmers, leaving trails of aural sunshine. Soon, the bass and a mesmeric synth are added. This is Nicklas’ cue to create a hypnotic, chiming sound. It’s the latest layer of sound that’s added to a multi-layered arrangement. As chirping guitar is panned left, synths strings are penned right. Later, the track takes on a dreamy, mesmeric sound. By then, Solo 3’s cinematic sound sounds as if it would be the perfect soundtrack to a journey from Munich to Berlin aboard the Deutsche Bahn. 

As the bass is plucked deliberately, and resonates on Solo 4. As it lingers, Nicklas’ shimmering guitar adds a melodic, but wistful hue.  Panning is used to shift sounds across the arrangement. They squeak, while washes of synths trail into the distance. By now, Solo 4 is akin to an ambient soundscape. It washes beautifully over the listener. Especially when Nicklas slowly and almost deliberately plays his guitar. Soon, layer upon layer of shimmering, glistening and chiming guitars combine. They’re joined by keyboards and  the bass. Together, they create  what’s without the most beautiful, melodic and captivating soundscapes on Solo. 

The whole of Papir’s rhythm section rejoin Nicklas on Solo 5. As the rhythm section lock into the tightest of grooves, Nicklas takes centre-stage. Soon, a rockier sounding track is beginning to unfold. Gone is the blissful sound of the previous track. A very different sound is unfolding. Soon, Nicklas’ guitar and keyboards add a brief dreamy sound. Mostly, though, Nicklas and his friends enjoy the opportunity to unleash a glorious slice of rocky music. It brings back memories of the heyday of the power trio. That’s until the track becomes dreamy, melodic, lysergic and hypnotic. Nicklas and his fiends are showcasing their versatility on what’s best described as a genre-melting track. Elements of rock, psychedelia, space rock, avant-garde and Berlin School combine seamlessly with Krautrock on  Solo 5.

Closing Solo, is Solo 6, a twelve minute epic. Dubby drums are joined by a quivering guitar while the bass buzzes and hums. This combination adds a moody, broody backdrop. That’s until washes of synths and shimmering guitar are added. Suddenly, moody and melodic meet head-on. It’s an interesting and mesmeric combination, and one that works well. The listener is drawn  in, and soon, are captivated by this melodic, mesmeric soundscape. Later, percussion and keyboards are added. Their addition works well as the Solo 6 decides to share its secrets. Washes of shimmering, glistening guitars veer between ethereal, melodic to briefly dramatic.  Especially when Nicklas Sørensen and friends decide to improvise. A wah-wah guitar, synths and percussion combine; as the drums continue to create the moody, mesmeric backdrop on this ambitious sonic adventure.That describes Solo perfectly. 

Solo which was recently released by El Paraiso Records, is a truly ambitious debut album from sonic adventurer Nicklas Sørensen. He set out to experiment, and does so on Solo. However, on other tracks, Nicklas Sørensen reminds the listener’s Papir’s trademark sound. For the listener, they enjoy the best of both worlds. 

Especially, newcomers to Papir’s music. They hear a tantalising taste of the Copenhagen based trio. Then on other tracks, Nicklas Sørensen experiments. With a little help from his friends,  he takes the listener on a genre-melting journey. This journey lasts just six tracks and forty-eight minutes. However, during this journey, Nicklas Sørensen combines musical genres and influences.

This includes the three genres that have influenced Papir, Krautrock, psychedelia and space rock. These influences can be heard on Solo. However, the Krautrock has been a big influence on Nicklas Sørensen. Especially Can, Neu!, Cluster and Harmonia. However, one particular Krautrock legend seems to have been a big influence on Nicklas Sørensen…Michael Rother.

The former Kraftwerk, Neu! and Harmonia guitarist seems to have been a reference point for Nicklas Sørensen on Solo. Especially Harmonia’s two classic albums Musik Von Harmonia and Deluxe; and  Michael Rother’s first two solo albums, Flammende Herzen and Sterntaler. These four albums have influenced Nicklas Sørensen stylistically and sonically. This is apparent throughout Solo. Sometimes,  Nicklas Sørensen sounds uncannily like Michael Rother, in this genre-melting journey.

Apart from Krautrock, psychedelia and space rock, Nicklas Sørensen combines elements of ambient, avant-garde, dub and rock as genres and influences melt into one. The result is Solo, an album that’s guaranteed to toy with the listener’s emotions.

Solo veers between blissful, euphoric and joyous, to moody and broody, through to  lysergic and dramatic. For much of Solo, the music is hypnotic and mesmeric. That’s down to Krautrock influence. Other times, the music is cinematic. Then it’s up to the listener to provide the script to Nicklas Sørensen’s soundtrack. Often, though, the Solos are beautiful and dreamy, as trails of glistening, shimmering music captivate, and makes the world seem a much better place. Sadly, all too soon, Solo is over. All that’s left are the memories of Nicklas Sørensen’s genre-melting, sonic adventure, Solo. One can’t help but reach over and press play again, and enjoy Solo’s subtleties, nuances and beauty.

NICKLAS SORENSEN-SOLO.

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