If Nicklas Sorensen isn’t melting minds in main gig Papir, then he might be in the studio laying down crystalline guitar tracks with Causa Sui’s Jonas Munk for a solo album. Or, if he’s doing neither of those things Nicklas could very well be holing up in a studio for a day creating improvisational, free-form music with Papir’s bassist Christian Becher Clausen in their side project A2. In A2 it’s just guitar, bass, and a whole lot of effects pedals.
On their debut release titled 2018.09.08, Nicklas and Christian weave in and out of brittle melodies to create an almost psychedelic music world. Hazy, dreamy guitars repeat forever creating an almost symphony of notes, like memories stuck in a loop that turn into something wholly different. Christians’s bass moves along smoothly counterpointing what the guitar is doing. The bass lines add an almost fusion-like feel to these improvisations. It’s like Brian Eno locked into a studio with Jaco Pastorius.
I’ve been pretty fascinated with this album so I reached out to Nicklas to see if he had time to answer a few questions. He did.
J. Hubner: So tell me about the origins of A2. How long have you and Christian been doing these guitar and bass improvisations?
Nicklas Sorensen: The A2-project can be dated back to 2012, when Christoffer(drummer in Papir) took a half year off from the band to study architecture in San Franscisco. Back then the duo was basically an excuse for Christian and I to meet and make music, while Papir was on a break. Then Christoffer returned and things went back to normal. But then in july 2018 Christian and I started meeting, jamming and recording again with just bass and guitar in a desire to spent more time together making music.
J. Hubner: Going into this, did you place restrictions on what sort of instrumentation you would use?
Nicklas Sorensen: We didn’t place any conscious restrictions, no…in fact we haven’t really considered the instrumentation, it’s just like it always is – a natural part of the way we listen to and interact whit each other in the process of creating music and sound. We obviously like to use a lot of delay pedals. But it’s difficult to recall the exact pedals and settings for each track. Often it’s nice to just mess around with a lot of pedals at the time, confuse yourself and get out of your head until you end up in a pure state of just listening to the sound.
J. Hubner: That Boss DD-2 digital delay on the album cover is a classic. I loved mine. Used it until it died.
Nicklas Sorensen: The Boss DD-2 has been with us for ages. It was actually one of Christian’s first pedals! Probably the best delay-pedal ever.
J. Hubner: So who or what were some influences going into the recording of 2018.09.08? It’s a very mellow, dreamy album. I love putting headphones on and getting lost in this one.
Nicklas Sorensen: Well, we are not really aware of any influences. That being said we are of course influenced by other music, we just don’t work that conscious with influences. The only name that has been mentioned (very briefly anyway) was Brian Eno and ‘Music For Airports’, but yeah…probably a lot of other influences too. We are glad to know that you dig the music! Thanks.
J. Hubner: What was the recording process like? I’d guess from the song titles that the album as a whole was recorded in one day? Did you two do the editing and mixing in the same day as well, or was that more of a longer process?
Nicklas Sorensen: Yes, it was all recorded in one day or more precisely one evening. Just guitar and bas, no overdubs or anything, just first take jamming. Then we met once after that and did some editing, just cutting out the best parts. And then Christian made some mixes and a fairly quick master…and that was it.
J. Hubner: Did you record to tape or digitally? It all has a very organic sound to it.
Nicklas Sorensen: It was recorded digitally, but we did add some reverb and some subtle effects to warm it up. Perhaps the analog vibe has to do with the fact, that the instruments we play are analog, guitar and bass (with digital delay of course…hehe), but no digital plastic sounding synthesizers or stuff like that.
J. Hubner: Are there any plans to take this out and perform live, or is A2 more of just a studio project?
Nicklas Sorensen: It could be fun to do some concerts with A2, we are definitely open for that…but otherwise it is satisfying enough to work with it as a studio project.
J. Hubner: Since I’ve got you here, can you tell me anything about the new Papir record ‘VI’ for Stickman Records? What can we expect?
Nicklas Sorensen: You can expect a pretty focused and tightly composed rock record that doesn’t lack of spontanity and improvisation.
J. Hubner: What is the Nicklas Sorensen and Jonas Munk collaboration album sounding like? Can we expect to see that dropping soon?
Nicklas Sorensen: If you are familiar with our respective solo outputs you probably won’t be that surprised, but a closer a listen will unveil that we have been digging deep into both the more academic approach to minimalism as well as the more psychedelic part of ambient and kraut. I think Jonas is in the process of mastering it these days, so hopefully it will be out soon.
J. Hubner: So what does the rest of 2019 look like? Maybe more A2?
Nicklas Sorensen: Definitely more A2! We already have a lot of material to choose from. Maybe an A2- concert? You never know. And Papir is playing in Norway for the first time ever as part of the Høstsabbath Festival(amazing line up)which is very exciting.
Head over to A2s Bandcamp page and throw some money at the digital cash register. Or not, it’s a name your price deal(but still, just drop something in the slot.) It’s a great album that seems to encompass you as you listen to it. For fans of Eno, Carl Weingarten, and Fripp/Eno’s (No Pussyfooting). And if you haven’t, dig into the work of Papir and Nicklas Sorensen’s solo albums. All of it is well worth your time.