Over the last three years, I’ve been courting Papir quite frequently, most notably their 2019 release, VI, for reasons that will become abundantly clear once you give any of the songs below a spin. The band are the masters of the stoner jam, infusing every track with a level of chill that makes you feel like you’re falling into a bed of clouds, whilst at the same time making sure not to dive too far into obscurity. 7 sees them dial their music back in comparison to their last outing with softer instrumentation, with their ultimate goal to bring their listeners to complete inner peace.
I won’t pretend to have listened to their full back catalogue, which, as you might discern from the album title, is extensive as heck. The Danish band have unleashed over eight full-lengths, as well as a live album, since 2010, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see many more over the coming years. They are a band who aren’t searching or hunting for a magnum opus, instead preferring to knock it out of the park each time with great albums that offer a chance to escape or withdraw from the banality of modern-day life.
When compared to V, VI, and their latest release from 2021, Jams, 7 strips back the rockier elements of Papir‘s music, taking the listener on an aloof and calming journey. My first full playthrough was actually on a graveyard flight back from holiday on New Year’s day. After starting the record and closing my eyes, I fell into a full-on, trance-like state for the first track, “7.1 (part I-III)”, which seemed to never end, yet in a very good way. The soft, relaxing chords rolled over and through me, drowning out the roar of the air conditioning and engines – transporting me to another place.
The atmosphere Papir has managed to create on 7 is imbued with light, playful guitars, surrounded and guided by krautrock synths and docile drumming, with the net result akin to My Brother The Wind, The Re-Stoned, or Nick DeSalvo from Elder‘s side project (and Stickman labelmates), Delving. Meditative, trance-like. and wholesome, this is music you can put on any time the outside world is bearing down too much on you.
“7.1 (part I-III)” is an exceptional piece of work, that uses reprises from the beginning of the track to guide the song through its sprawling twenty-minute runtime, with chords coming back in to enrich your senses over and over again. You’ll also find gorgeous pieces of ambient drone smattered in the song, seeing the band use muted guitars to create an enveloping atmosphere that is meditative and relaxing.
The following track, “7.2”, has a wonderful structure to it, with brilliant chords that feel inspired by someone like Khruangbin, as reverb for days helps to create a rich and heart-warming experience. And just when you thought you couldn’t get any more relaxed, “7.3” comes along. This track is possibly one of Papir‘s most ambient tracks ever, with very slow and soft guitars that make you feel like you’re sitting on the beach, basking in the warmth of a rich, inviting sunset.
This totally contrasts with their previous record – Jams – and VI, which, whilst relaxing and docile compared to a lot of stoner and even krautrock, has nothing on the mellow vibes Papir have crafted in 7. Also, it helps make their releases so much easier to plough into. I rarely think, ‘I’m listening to too much Papir‘, because each of the last four/five releases is so nicely varied, and complements my different moods. 7 really helps to bolster that variety, offering up four tracks of delightful, calming rock that brightens your day and starts the new year off on a positive and happy note.