Revisited : Causa Sui’s ‘Free Ride’

When I first discovered Causa Sui I wasn’t about the typical rock and roll trip. I was falling for heady instrumental jams; acid-soaked fusion in the form of Bitches Brew and Miles In The Sky, and heavy synth excursions like Phaedra, Visions of Dune, and Geogaddi. I wasn’t looking for vocals to muck up the experience that guitars, drums, bass, and synth could give me, so finding Causa Sui’s Euporie Tide, Summer Sessions, Pewt’r Sessions, as well as their various solo adventures were kind of a mind-expanding experience for me.

At the height of my Causa Sui mania I was of course devouring everything I could get my ears on, this meant going back thru their entire catalog. Unlike the rest of their discography, Causa Sui’s first two albums had vocals. Besides the core four-piece of Jonas Munk(guitars), Rasmus Rasmussen(keys), Jess Kahr(bass), and Jakob Skott(drums), there was Kasper Markus on vocals. While those first two records were still big rockers and diverse in their various mind-expanding sounds, I wasn’t really looking for vocals in my acid-tinged jams. While I appreciated the tunes, I never really visited those two vocal albums all the much.

Recently El Paraiso Records announced they were reissuing Causa Sui’s Free Ride on CD and vinyl for the first time in over a decade. Free Ride is decidedly the stronger of the first two albums, so this makes sense. The band had found their groove and sweet spot in the pantheon of psych rock, and singer Kasper Markus had his Dave Wyndor meets Damo Suzuki trip down pretty well by then. There are fans that have been wanting this record on vinyl for years, so giving this album the reissue treatment only makes sense. And turning it into a double LP by adding the 20-minute live Roadburn jam of Causa Sui’s signature mind melter “El Paraiso” is the THC-laced icing on the cake.

I recently sat down with Free Ride to give it another go. While I prefer my heady psych mainlined into my cerebral cortex without vocals, I’ve come to the conclusion that Free Ride is an essential step in the history and mystique of Causa Sui. And in its remastered form, this record sounds absolutely amazing.

Even the most recent jams by Causa Sui indicate a love for Kyuss and the whole desert rock trip(check out Vibraciones Doradas for further proof.) On Free Ride we’re treated to some serious stoner/desert rock, Odense-style. “Free Ride” has some beach bum drum circle percussion and good time vibes floating in the air like a fog at a Dead show. Acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies bring us into Causa Sui’s world as Michael Rother-like guitars tickle the air. Soon enough though “Lotus” comes barreling thru the speaker as if Blue Cheer and MC5 contorted into one massive Detroit garage rock behemoth. “White Sun” showcases some killer Jakob Skott drumming while Jonas Munk lays down serious Hendrix vibes. Markus adds touches of soul to his rock and roll bark, which only adds to the Experience vibe here.

A couple cold IPAs and things will start feeling pretty good.

Right in the middle of Free Ride is the 10-minute banger “Passing Breeze”, a mixture of the summer of love and the decade of decadence. It’s got those late-60s jam vibes in the instrumental passages, with a touch of 60s hangover trepidation in the middle. The band sets off into space for some serious galactic contemplation. It’s as if Blue Cheer morphed into Can right in front of our eyes. Reverbed flutes bring to mind Popol Vuh, really opening Causa Sui up for further musical explorations in their Summer Sessions records, and beyond.

Elsewhere, “Top of the Hill” is an all out rocker. Munk lays down some seriously overdriven single coil riffage that would bring a tear to the eye of any hardcore guitar lover. The song, with its late-60s organ, driving bass, and Skott’s ever present barreling rhythm just blows the speakers. Absolute killer jam, man. The record ends on the epic “Newborn Road”, a wah-driven guitar banger that brings those desert rock/Hendrix vibes back full circle.

Free Ride is an essential step in the creation and evolution of what Causa Sui has grown into. The DNA to which Return To Sky, Euporie Tide, Pewt’r Sessions, and even the epic live showcases like Live at Freak Valley and Live in Copenhagen are made of can be traced back to those first two Causa Sui records, and in-particular Free Ride.

So if you’ve been waiting to get your hands on Free Ride, your chance is now. Head over to El Paraiso Records and get the double LP with the bonus 20-minute Roadburn jam “El Paraiso” while it lasts. You don’t want to wait another ten years. It’s out November 2nd. Preorder it here.


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