I spent the afternoon in some musty old record shop on a nondescript side street for an afternoon deep dive into gatefold sleeves and incense-laced air. Checking the “electronic” bin I come across cats like Cluster, Kluster, Tangerine Dream, Terry Riley, Klaus Schulze, and Jonas Munk & Nicklas Sorensen. Jonas Munk and Nicklas Sorensen? Never heard of these guys. The album cover is sleek and simple, yet catches your eye immediately. “Improvisations For Synthesizers and Electric Guitar” is what is written across the album sleeve. This sounds right up my alley.
I pay the bearded wizard at the counter reading Pynchon and head home. I grab a beer from the fridge and put that new slab of wax on the platter and drop the needle. I’m hit immediately with the simple beauty of “Shift”. A kinetic rhythm of guitar notes and synth patterns come out of the speakers. A dreamy texture of calculated intent and woozy patterns that make you concentrate on the hypnotic spirit and not the complexity of the track. I’m reminded of the best of Tangerine Dream’s movie work in the early 80s.
“Patterns” is next and I’m floored. Within its typewriter-tapping of notes and looping structures there’s the slow build of electronic melody under the mathematical construct of the track. An echoed slide guitar in the distance adds a soulful, reflective vibe to the track. It’s like Ry Cooder stepped into the recording sessions for Steve Reich’s ‘Music For 18 Musicians’ and decided to stay awhile.
Before side a ends we’re treated to the short but lush “Here”, a woozy guitar and synth track that feels simple in comparison to what came before it. The effervescent guitar is accompanied by swaths of analog synth. It’s a simple and lush way to close this portion of the proceedings.
Might as well grab another beer in-between sides.
By comparison, this track “Magnetic” that opens side b feels looser and more open to improvisational abandon. Simple percussion, synthesizer flourishes, and harmonizing guitars lead the way into this great unknown. Maybe it’s the beers, but it feels like something magical is happening here. Mysticism and transcending space and time thru the power of this amazing work. Everything begins to swirl into one amazing swath of noise.
The drones of final track “Tide” emanate from the speakers. Bits of Michael Rother, Terry Riley, and Amon Düül resonate in this track. There’s a meditative peace that rises up from the new age vibe that works to a melodic cacophony of upbeat noise and near existential uplift. It closes with a clean guitar line and the remnants of what came before.
This album just blew my mind. Jonas Munk & Nicklas Sorensen’s ‘Always Already Here’ is an astounding piece of work, and I still have a couple beers left in the fridge. Time to drop the needle again and listen to one of my favorite albums so far this year.
Jonas Munk and Nicklas Sorensen have been working together in some form or another for close to a decade. Either with Munk producing and mastering albums for Sorensen’s main gig Papir, Munk working with Sorensen on his solo LPs(as well as playing on Solo 2), or doing little one-off shows together improvising Komische-style guitar/electronic music. Together these two Danish musicians capture the classic vibe of early 70s German music innovators like Froese, Schulze, Rother, and Fricke, all the while forging their own brand of forward-thinking instrumental music.
After all these years Munk and Sorensen have finally made a fully collaborative album together. Always Already Here is a beautifully constructed bit of Komische and Berlin School majesty. Combining Sorensen’s fluid and crystalline guitar lines and Munk’s synth and guitar prowess, these two have captured both the spirit of German electronic music pioneers and minimalist composers like Steve Reich, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass. Always Already Here is a stunning new record that feels like old school music exploration in a new school headspace.
8.7 out of 10
Always Already Here drops 8/16/19 on El Paraiso Records. Preorder it here.