Causa Sui have been putting out true psychedelic rock for almost ten years. In those ten years they’ve transcended the genre into something completely their own. Starting out with a more fuzzed-out stoner rock vibe on their first two records the Denmark natives switched gears on 2008s Summer Sessions, Vol 1-3 by creating more mind-expanding long form jams that harken back to electric Miles, Can, and some of the more progressive psychedelia of the late 60s and early 70s(I’m looking at you Hawkwind.) From 2008 on Causa Sui made music for the lover of music you can get lost in. Worlds form and decay, centuries pass and light years are traveled all in the course of one of Causa Sui’s many excellent expansive albums. Last year’s excellent Euporie Tide seemed to be a concentrated version of the band’s discography. Sometimes Sabbath-heavy, sometimes quietly serene, and sometimes dream-like and hallucinogenc, its one hour plus run time covered all the bases. Now we have Live at Freak Valley, a live testament to the band’s musical prowess. It’s a shining example of what these four guys can do when given a stage and a couple hours to blow minds.
Freak Valley Festival is a music festival that takes place in Siegen, Germany. Someone once said “There’s nothing to do in Siegen”, so the folks at Freak Valley decided to change that. A who’s who of psych, doom, and stoner rock bands have played the festival and Causa Sui can now be added to the roster. Listening to Live at Freak Valley you’re amazed at how four guys can fill every nook and cranny with sound. Jonus Munk(guitar), Jakob Skott(drums), Jess Kahr(bass), and Rasmus Rasmussen(keys) take their signature tracks and open them up. They expand on the ideas laid to tape and let them breathe on the Freak Valley stage. Musical beasts that roam the room melting faces and minds alike. The medley of “Lonesome Traveller/Santa Sangre/Garden of Forking Paths” is 14 minutes of swirling noise, pounding rhythms, and psych guitar freakouts the likes of you haven’t heard since the heyday of acid blotter and liquid light shows. But this music isn’t to be written off as cookie cutter psych rock. There’s muscle to these songs. Causa Sui never relies on the idea that 20 minutes of mindless jamming will satisfy the red-eyed masses. At times these tracks explode into massive, riff-heavy glory reminding you why Black Sabbath were so great in the first place. “Mireille” opens triumphantly and strides along like a gallant steed before Munk engages the wah pedal and begins to lay down some serious Pete Cosey-like jams. At times Rasmussen’s keys sound more like another guitar than keys, but when he throws in some organ it feels like 1970 and Jon Lord all over again. I have to say Rasmus Rasmussen really does create a mood. He keeps things spacey and weird, while the rest of the band can jam like Cream on a good night. Skott holds his own as this band’s Ginger Baker, blasting his drums like a maniac but never losing the groove, while Kahr holds the low end down never letting Skott float off into space. And Jonas Munk knows just when to blow up and when to pull back. “Red Valley” has an ominous vibe, filled with tension and a restraint you feel could explode at any moment. It was a highlight of Summer Sessions, Vol.3 and it’s a highlight here as well. Over three minutes into this track it turns into this Sleep-like doom bruiser and proceeds to get delightfully noisy. When Rasmussen comes in with the space swirls the track settles back down into a mellow vibe. “El Paraiso” and “Euporie” is some of the best live freakouts I’ve ever heard. Put on some headphones and disappear into the ether. And “Homage” sounds even more like Smashing Pumpkins’ “Cherub Rock” live, except without all the whining. Simply excellent.
The band burns through nine tracks in nearly ninety minutes. They hit classics like “El Paraiso” and the aforementioned “Lonesome Traveller/Santa Sangre/Garden of Forking Paths”, but over half the setlist consists of Euporie Tide songs which is great. You can hear the band open these songs up and let them breathe and grow. They improvise and riff on these tunes like jazz players. Jazz players with a penchant for fuzz boxes and heavy psychedelics. As far as live albums go, Live at Freak Valley is one of the best.
I’m sure I’ll never see Causa Sui live. Unless I take a vacation in Denmark or they line up a US tour sometime in the near future Live at Freak Valley is the closest I’ll get to hearing these Danish psych masters do their thing live and in the raw. Thanks to this excellent live testatment I can be happy with that.
8.8 out of 10