At the heart of El Paraiso Records is the band Causa Sui. The four-piece rock band from Denmark made up of Jonas Munk(guitar), Rasmus Rasmussen(keys), Jess Kahr(bass), and Jakob Skøtt(drums). The label was the band’s home base, where they could release albums whenever they wanted and could explore any sonic avenues they wanted to. From Causa Sui the members could explore on their own or with others and the label curated these sound excursions, which led to the diverse swath of amazing artists and albums we’ve got today.
But the DNA that founded the label was Causa Sui.
From desert rock beginnings to Sabbath-ian riffage to Pacific Northwest sludge to psyched-out tropicalia, Causa Sui jumps in head first and takes us along for the ride. Here’s a few of Causa Sui’s finest moments over the last 11 years, according to me.
Causa Sui are always exploring different sonic avenues and one of their biggest explorative shifts was with their last LP, 2020’s Szabodelico. Inspired by Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó, the album had an almost island feel. There’s a breeziness to the gentle grooves, the shimmering guitar lines, and the light touch of keys, this record was a sonic walk on etheral beaches of the mind.
If you landed in Causa Sui territory via 2016s Return To Sky this album may have been a bit of a surprise. But for the long time fan this record feels like a natural progression for Causa Sui, especially if you’re familiar with Summer Sessions or Pewt’r Sessions. Those were exploratory works that delved into molten grooves and dreamy sound explorations. Szabodelico sounds like the natural evolution of Causa Sui. There’s plenty of grooves, tasteful guitar freak outs, and 60s keys to go around; but there’s also jazz, fusion, tropicalia, and Latin flavors. Szabodelico is Causa Sui firing on all pistons and blowing the doors off the band’s full potential. This will be a future classic.
Return To Sky(2016)
2016s Return To Sky feels like the kind of album where a band truly finds their “sound”. After a couple years of individual members branching out and recording solo or collaborating in other projects, Causa Sui came back together and recorded this blistering 5-song set that was both their heaviest and most nuanced set of tracks yet.
On both a playing and engineering level this is the band’s most precise set of tunes up to that point. Opener “Dust Meridian” sounded like both Seattle ’91 and the Bay area ’67. It encapsulates a lifetime of influences in one crushing yet dreamy track. This album is the sound of a band fully aware of who they are and what they are capable of.
Summer Sessions Vol. 1-3(2008/2009)
In my opinion Causa Sui’s Summer Sessions Vol. 1-3 is the band at their wildest and most exploratory. Originally released via German label Elektrohasch, they were reissued by El Paraiso Records in a 3-album box set. These are records that say we can pretty much do whatever we put our minds to. Having your own record label might be a lot of work, but it affords an artist the ability to just say “Fuck it, let’s record a 24-minute album opener with Latin grooves, hand claps, and Ray Manzarek-like keys. Hand me the egg shaker.”) “Visions Of Summer” says and does it all. It’s like Sabbath on a ‘Summer Of Love’ kick with a touch of desert rock death cult for good measure.
I love how this set flails from one vibe to the next all the while still sounding very much like the same band. Causa Sui dives into many moods while still sounding like Causa Sui. The artistry shines through, as does the absolute joy of creativity. Summer Sessions Vol. 1-3 is essential Causa Sui.
Vibraciones Doradas dropped at the end of 2017 and was once again bringing the riffs and the pummeling drums and tectonic low end. It’s five tracks of absolute heavy molten dirges. “The Drop” brings the heaviness in spades, while “El Fuego” has an almost tribal darkness to it. Title track “Vibraciones Doradas” starts out almost in a doom metal vibe, but Causa Sui switch things up halfway thru adding elements of psychedelia and a sense of urgency which builds to a climactic end.
Jonas Munk had perfected his engineering and mastering skills here, giving us the most sonically rich Causa Sui album yet. Every nuance and every urgent riff is blisteringly clear and precise. Vibraciones Doradas feels like a period at the end of a definitive sentence. An end, opening to a new beginning that starts with Szabodelico three years later.
Pewt’r Sessions 3
Pewt’r Sessions is yet another series of albums that let Causa Sui explore sonic avenues that they might not on a typical full-length. Much more experimental in nature, Pewt’r Sessions were recorded with musician Rob Schneiderman and saw the Causa Sui crew going into darker territory. More ambient, more drone, and more psychedelic in nature, these albums felt more in tune with west coast psych bands like Eternal Tapestry, Carlton Melton, and even Earthless to some degree.
Pewt’r Sessions 3 was the first of these albums I heard and it made an impression. I think the dark nature of this album really stuck with me. “Abyssal Plain” and “Eutopia” make up side one with both dark and light, while “Incipiency Suite” covers all of side two with over 26 minutes of desolation and insidious groove. I feel like this is the ultimate Causa Sui freak out. Bassist Jess Kahr lays some seriously funky bass down which allows everyone else to set fire to their instruments. It sounds like an exorcism by fire and I’m here for that 100%. Incipiency literally means being brought into existence, and this track feels and sounds like a birth ritual.
You can’t go wrong with any Causa Sui. Seriously. But if you haven’t heard any of the above mentioned then dive in. Those are some of my personal favorites from these Danish lads.
Up next? We’ll hit up some of the solo and Causa Sui-adjacent projects over the last decade. Some of my favorite albums have come from the side projects and solo works, so tune in tomorrow.