Three years after the heady sounds of IV, Danish metronomically precise, but altogether human instrumentalists Papir return with V, unsurprisingly their fifth studio album. The titular minimalism continues into the track titles, which are simply numbers, continuing a tradition from their previous releases. You can call instrumentals anything and this band don’t waste their imagination in that department, oh no. That is all saved for the music. Spotless Danish efficiency in action!
Steered by Christoffer Brøchmann’s driving rhythms, Papir construct joyously intricate instrumental labyrinths from fragile beginnings where the listener can get lost in the maze of interlocking guitar, bass, and drums. What starts out as a deceptively simple motorik exercise on II slowly builds through its 12-minutes into a cosmic parabola of precise trajectory. These pieces are jams played to a strict plan, but at the same time develop a celebratory spontaneity and intensity that can only leave you feeling better about life at the end of the trip than when you started out.
A gorgeous solo bursts from a sludgy oil slick of guitar grumble on II that takes the tune over the bridge and away along the autobahn, and onwards into the setting sun. Marvellous! This cultured beast must be spellbinding live!
Usually an album outstays its welcome when it passes the hour mark, but the 95 minutes of V seem to fly by with no trouble at all. This is made even easier to digest on the LP and CD versions, which are both double albums, so you can take a break should you want to. All seven excursions here are given the time they need to develop their own personalities. After the Deutschrock headrush of II, III goes for a more considered and less intense approach. It still builds, but in the manner of a gently rising tide, and is altogether more organic in tone, ending by disappearing into a sonic whirlpool that bears all the hallmarks of classic psychedelically tinged post-rock influence. The album was mixed by John McEntire of post-rock pillars Tortoise, and the airy, spacious feel of the mix lends V a natural grace.
And so it goes, expansive guitar adventures and subtle intricate drumming is the order of the day. V is the aural equivalent of lying on your back on a grassy hillside on a sunny day, watching incalculably high up irregular fluffy white clouds drift by in the blue, occasionally interrupted by low-flying screaming lysergically tinted dizbusters on a mission. Dreamy and intermittently insistent, V is never dull over the passage of its lengthy discourse.
We awake from reverie as VI builds to a by now expected but no less triumphal climax, guitars chiming in a campanologist’s practice session, proof that instrumental music can indeed put a smile on your careworn features. While we are up here, the first ten minutes or so of the quarter hour long VII takes us on a tour of sonic heaven, guided by reverberating shimmering chords and swoops from still higher above. Then a contemplative calm gradually descends until a backbeat is established by the bass guitar that awakens the seraphim from slumber to lead us all into eternity.
V has been an album of considered elation, if such a thing is possible. Give it a listen!
01. V.I (12:45)
02. V.II (11:50)
03. V.III (9:06)
04. V.IV (14:59)
05. V.V (10:03)
06. V.VI (11:03)
07. V.VII (25:01)
Total Time – 1:34:50
Nicklas Sørensen – Guitar
Christian Becher – Bass
Christoffer Brøchmann – Drums