The world has been upside down and topsy turvy since the beginning of 2020. Health crisis, political turmoil, racial and civil unrest in city streets, and common sense being replaced by clickbait and conspiracy theories, the world seems to be in one hell of a sorry state.
The one constant light throughout this year for me has been music. Despite our current dumpster fire state of affairs, new music has been dropping from the ether and offering up sonic healing. A sort of musical sauv to spread on the psychic wounds we’ve endured. As if the state of music 2020 couldn’t get better, we now have one more shot of musical healing coming in the form of Causa Sui’s Szabodelico.
The Danish psych rock explorers, which includes Jonas Munk, Jess Kahr, Rasmus Rasmussen, and Jakob Skøtt, have been mining desert rock fuzz, Krautrock grooves, and German experimentalism for over a decade now. The quartet is never satisfied to just turn on autopilot and continue repeating themselves each time out. Every record sees a progression to more thoughtful, artful music endeavors that mix in new vibes and headspaces. On Szabodelico Causa Sui push forward into even newer realms of musical art.
This is Causa Sui like you’ve never heard. Fuzz pedals aren’t engaged, drums aren’t beat within an inch of their lives, and songs don’t drop into dark and foreboding doldrums. Instead, this record is a reprieve from the insanity. Szabodelico brings to mind the almost meditative quality of Popol Vuh, but with an almost island vibe. It’s a contemplative, thoughtful, and heady 60 minutes of sound and light from one of the most forward-thinking bands working today.
A perfect example of the wonderful sonic integrity here is album closer “Merging Waters”. It’s a long, panning shot of a song. It blooms in slow motion in front of your ears. Dulcet tones emanate from the speakers like paisley creatures. This is the true spirit of experimental and improvisation. Another stunner is the groovy “Sole Elettrico”, one of the more percussive pieces on the album. Latin rhythms, synth, keys, and guitar all come together in an almost alien vibe. Like if in some other reality The Doors and Mahavishnu Orchestra had gotten together and found some cerebral middle ground. “Lucien’s Beat” gets mystical as Rasmus Rasmussen colors the track with ethereal keys, creating a song that could’ve easily come from Miles’ electric period.
This album feels like it fell from another decade. Sonically it’s engineered as if it was recorded live straight to tape. It has a Rudy Van Gelder feel, or the feel of those classic ECM albums from the early 70s. It has that distinct and precise mono sound. Magic being captured on ribbon mics hanging from rafters in a practice space.
Elsewhere, title track “Szabodelico” builds on a solid foundation laid down by the rhythm section of Kahr and Skott, while Munk gives the song some almost gypsy/jazz vibes tipping a hat to the late jazz guitarist Gábor Szabó. Szabó is an artist whose spirit permeates the entirety of Szabodelico(see “Gabor’s Path”.) Munk also locks into some John Abercrombie grooves as well on this excellent track. There’s also the gorgeous “Honeydew” which floats along on phase shifting guitar and some truly hazy keys. You don’t have to be chugging and all fist-pumping riffs to be heavy and deep. This track proves that.
Causa Sui paint a mural here in slow motion. This record bleeds colors and waves of warmth. It’s a walk on some endless beach to a sun that never quite sets in on the horizon. It stays above that water line as long as you need it to, allowing for another look at the beauty that surrounds you. This is the world of Szabodelico.
Szabodelico is a million miles from Causa Sui’s previous record, 2017s Vibraciones Doradas. Where that album was lean and mean and ready to throw down, Szabodelico is a record of quiet beauty and calm instrospection. It’s still the magnificent Causa Sui, and in absolute fine form, but this time out it’s all about getting lost in the moment. Nuanced grooves, painted in fine sonic details and expansive enough to be heady in scope. A sonic salve for those psychic wounds.
9.0 out of 10
Causa Sui’s Szabodelico will be released 11/13. Preorder it here. Listen to Szabodelico in its entirety below, ahead of the 11/13 release date.