Guitarist Nicklas Sørensen comes at the guitar in a very unique way. He paints these vibes out of thin air; he builds cavernous soundscapes and sound fortresses with his instrument. For sure Sørensen can blow the roof off the joint with his red Stratocaster in his psych/prog trio Papir. He can riff and blow minds with the best of ’em, but I feel when he’s deep in the weeds musically is when it’s just him, his Strat, and an assortment of effects pedals at his feet. His comfort zone is more Michael Rother than Michael Schenker.
Nicklas Sørensen came up in the Danish power trio Papir, releasing several forward-thinking albums with El Paraiso Records, eventually joining Stickman Records. But besides his prolific work with Papir Nicklas has put out two solo LPs(with El Paraiso Records), a collaboration with Causa Sui’s Jonas Munk, as well as a couple guitar/bass improvisation albums under the name A2(with Papir bassist Christian Becher Clausen). What all of these have in common is Sørensen’s ethereal guitar playing.
The latest from Nicklas is the album Live, a collection of live recordings from 2017 and 2018. These live tracks are a mixture of improvisation and written material and are composed of just Sorensen, a guitar, and a bunch of magical noise boxes. He builds sounds like a painter creates landscapes on canvas; dropping sounds, drones, and ethereal bits with broad strokes and expert composition. Live is a deep dive into music coming out of thin air.
There are six tracks of sonic bliss on Live. It’s not really something that can be described from track to track. It’s the kind of album that needs to be experienced, not dissected. Nicklas Sørensen builds upon loops and colors with echo and tremolo, giving these songs a dream-like feel. These are long form sound excursions with shimmering guitars and a sort of widescreen point-of-view. You can almost see the open skies of the great southwest at dusk; purple hues intermingling with the coming of darkness. Though, since Nicklas hails from Copenhagen maybe his inspiration is Lake Bagsværd, or Utterslev Mose. Or maybe he’s just pulling this stuff right out of thin air, letting the universe take him where he needs to go.
These six tracks were mastered by Jonas Munk. Munk gives these live songs a kind of studio sheen, rounding and molding them sonically. His studio wizardry makes Nicklas Sørensen’s pieces feel complete. Jonas Munk has worked with Nicklas for many years, both with Papir and his solo albums. Jonas has been a kind of studio mentor and collaborater for nearly a decade. His deft touches to these songs bring them into sharp focus.
Over the course of these six songs the guitar is our guide, with Nicklas bending and swirling melodies to his will. All of it builds to a grand finale in the last track’s 11-minute run time; a cascade of sonic light and brilliance that takes the listener into a vast and euphoric listening experience.
Are you looking for a sonic deep dive you can get lost in for a bit? Look no further than Nicklas Sørensen’s excellent Live. It’s the heady trip your mangled psyche is aching for.
‘Live’ is out now via Aural Canyon. Grab it here.