It’s been a heady week-long journey into the heart of the mighty El Paraiso Records. So many amazing releases and artists have passed through the hallowed halls of El Paraiso, and I think we’re all the better for it. These last 11 years have seem some amazing records drop, and I’m hoping there’s at least another 11 years of releases yet to drop from the label from Odense, Denmark.
To close out the El Paraiso Records celebration today is about the solo releases, the odds and ends, and one amazing album that was recorded originally back in 2010 in Chicago, IL. So grab another cup of dark roast or grab a pint depending what time of day you’re reading this and dive in.
Jonas Munk : Absorb/Fabric/Cascade(2014)
Jonas Munk’s second album under his own name was a full-on deep dive into 70s Berlin School bliss. Three long pieces created from vintage synths, organ, and piano, this excellent and all-immersive album felt like Terry Riley and Edgar Froese coming together for a Herzog score. Slow-moving, hazy, and heady in the best way possible.
Where as Munk’s first solo outing Pan was rhythmic, propulsive, and heavy on the Michael Rother guitar eccentricities, Absorb/Fabric/Cascade had a less-defined feel. It’s electronic center morphed and formed like a fog bank in your mind, shifting shape and intent in order to carry you along on its journey. This album is an electronic meditation of the highest order. A circuital experience you give yourself over to for its runtime.
Jakob Skøtt : Amor Fati
On Jakob Skøtt’s second turn as solo artist he shifts from the woozy synth patches and Boards of Canada indifference of his debut Doppler for what is now his signature drum/synth one-man improvs. Amor Fati is 7 tracks of bombastic drums, synth patches, and wobbly electronic noise that feels as if it has a narrative line throughout. Sci-fi heavy, as if some pulpy Philip K Dick paperback put to music, Skøtt shifts from one groove to the next like Tony Williams keeping up with AI melodies and dystopian riffs.
Amor Fati was a revelatory album for me. The one-man jam between drum and synth was this coming together of all the things I love; jazz, rock, electronic, and sci-fi, all building this immersive sound world I could totally get lost in. Jakob Skøtt went on to make three more of these melodic battles between man and machine, and each time he refined his approach and honed in on the essence. But Amor Fati will always hold a special place in my brain.
Chicago Odense Ensemble(2019)
Back in 2008 two dudes from Odense, Denmark(Jonas Munk and Jakob Skøtt) visited the Windy City for a jam session with some of the best musicians in the underground jazz/experimental music scene in Chicago, including guys like Rob Mazurek, Jeff Parker, Dan Bitney, Matt Lux, and Brian Keigher. They all come from bands like Tortoise, Chicago Underground Collective, and Isotope 217; heavy hitters that know their way around a heady lick or two.
This international jam session was mixed by Munk back at his studio, cut and pasted Macero-style, and then released in 2011 on European label Adluna Records. In 2019 this amazing session was remastered by Munk nnd then re-released on El Paraiso Records with new album artwork courtesy of Jakob Skøtt. This is premium, heady music that comes from the DNA of Miles’ Live Evil, Marc Moulin’s Placebo, and the spirit of early 70s ECM releases. The Chicago/Odense formation here is nothing short of brilliant; jazz inflections being distorted through electronics, experimentation, and the buzz of musicians doing their thing in a room together.
Jakob Skøtt : Instrumentality
In 2018 Jakob Skøtt released Instrumentality, his fifth solo album and most personal. After several months of recovering from a spontaneous leak of brain fluid which caused pain and dizziness, Instrumentality is the first he’d created music since recovering. The album is noisy, disorienting, and heavier than what came before. There’s a sense of urgency in these 5 tracks which build a momentum up to the 14-minute finale “Tapping the Source with the Lords of Instrumentality”. There’s a sense of ease and calm as the song works its way through the chaos of drums, bubbling electronics, and confusion.
This album feels like working through something. The drum/synth attacks are here, but there’s a sense that at any moment things could just buzz off into the universe lost in a directionless momentum. Thankfully Skøtt came through it and was able to put that frustration and chaotic unknowns into a powerful work of musical art.
Causa Sui’s Live at Freak Valley
A great example of what Causa Sui could do live in the early days, 2014’s Live at Freak Valley shows a band locking in and blowing minds in a small-ish venue. Firing on all pistons, this was a preview of what you were missing if you were sitting at home instead of sweating, 5 pints in, with a group of like-minded folks losing your marbles to “The Juice” or “Euporie”.
Papir’s Live at Roadburn
For three guys Papir are one full-sounding trio. It’s one thing to make a trio sound big on record, but live there’s no tricks. You either bring the goods or you don’t. Papir brought the goods to the Roadburn stage and melted frontal lobes with their ultra tight jams and second to none rhythm section. A loud, rocking, and transcendent listening and viewing experience.
Causa Sui’s Live In Copenhagen
Forget Allman Brothers, forget Peter Frampton, forget Cheap Trick, forget Kiss, because the only live album you need in your collection is Causa Sui’s massive box set Live In Copenhagen. This is a live album done right. The perfect mics, the perfect tube preamps, the perfect venue, and most importantly the perfect band, Causa Sui absolutely crush on this 3LP set. They run through a decade’s worth of music, giving the songs their proper breadth and space to move, grow, and fill a room of enchanted listeners. It’s an absolutely stunning set of songs that sound as good live in that room than presented from the comfort of the studio. And they end the proceedings on a nearly 17-minute cover of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”. Absolutely stunning.
That’s it, kids. I hope you enjoyed going down the El Paraiso Records rabbit hole as much as I enjoyed revisiting it myself. So if you’re just starting out there’s so much to dig into and savor for years to come. I covered just a bit of it this week. So if you’re the curious type, like to tickle the synapses once in a while with serious, heady art, then open your brain and pour some El Paraiso Records directly in. Enjoy the ride.