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Brian Ellis Group

Escondido Sessions

    There’s something brewing in Southern California these days, besides the world’s finest Pale Ale and crystal clear surf rolling up the shore along the Interstate 5. Recently there’s been a pour of mindblowing prog-, psych- and free-rock in impeccable form out of San Diego County: Seamlessly merging jazz tendencies and extraordinary jam-abilities with crushing heaviness, electronics and a general out-there-ness. Bands such as Psicomagia, Earthless and Joy has earned SoCal it’s own unique spot on the worldwide map of psychedelia. At the heart of all this, is one young Escondido native, Brian Ellis. A guitar virtuoso in Astra, saxophonist in Psicomagia as well as keys- and synth-wiz. For years he’s been cutting his teeth as a grade A session player in heavyweight funk-outfits such as Egyptian Lover, as well as a studio owner gradually turning into an esteemed recording engineer. It was only a matter of time before he was gonna get his own group of local offbeat heroes in the same room and crank out a spectacular piece of prismatic, electric free-form jazz. And here it is.

    Along with members from Radio Moscow, Corima and Psicomagia, Brian has cooked up two vinyl sides of seriously vital jazz-rock, taking up where Miles Davis, Tony Williams and Donald Byrd left off in the seventies. This music is a far cry from the self-absorbed European free-jazz or academic noodling one is likely to meet at any given jazz festival - no, this music is earthy, like, say, Hendrix at Woodstock, or Miles’ Live Evil - a pinnacle challenge of the past that has never met any really satisfying response from contemporary music. There’s that unique sense of percussive drift that characterized Can’s records in the first half of the seventies - somehow extravagant, yet also subtle at the same time. The warmth of Brian’s sun-dried Rhodes and cosmic Moog-lines intertwine with Patrick Shiroishi’s Coltrane-inspired soprano arabesques. Trevor Mast’s thick bass lines and a multitude of tribalistic percussion keep it together along with a naturalistic crisp-sounding recording. It all adds up to a soulful tour de force of everything that’s great about the current San Diego scene. To be played loudly.

    File next to: Miles Davis, Tortoise, Marion Brown, Joe Henderson, Can, Donald Byrd . 

    Futuropaco

    Futuropaco

      Futuropaco’s debut album is the shape of things to come: it’s a wet, enigmatic cocktail of part 1970’s Italian library music, part krautalicious beat-galore and part riff-driven heavy psych. Justin Pinkerton, from Oakland, California, is the one-man army behind the opaque merge of seemingly different forces: from mad fuzz guitar breakdowns à la Morricone at his most intense, to the syncopated drum learnings of Can’s Jaki Liebezeit, Justin weaves a blanket of sound that’s simply loaded with deep vibes: From heavily modulate Moog synths, gentle glockenspiel through amplified echo-perplexion.

      You almost forget that Justin’s main instrument is actually the drums - if it wasn’t for the superb loaded-yet-understated grooves tying everything together in an intricate tangle. With a background as drummer & composer in famed psych-rockers Golden Void (Thrill Jockey), Justin also works as a full time film composer for library and commercial music. Futuropaco is the meeting between his two passions: It’s a vivid sonic dream where abstraction melts with the strict, focused approach of cinematic cues. It almost makes you forget the murky future of America these days, which was the catalyst for this album and it’s title. Imminent dystopia never felt this grounded, bright and uplifting. Freedom Fuzz!

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: Driven, motorik percussion, throbbing fuzzed-out guitars and brain-melting solos make for a fascinating and absorbing journey. Brilliantly varied, but consistently superb.

      FORMAT INFORMATION

      LP includes MP3 Download Code.

      Landing

      Bells In New Towns

        Connecticut group Landing celebrates their 20th anniversary this year, but shows no signs of losing creative momentum. On the contrary, Bells in New Towns, their second album for El Paraiso Records, is arguably their finest, most cohesive effort to date. The group's sound has always been multi-textured, alluding to many different genres at once. There's the heavy oscillating drones and the fuzzy, motoric psychedelia, the lush ambient soundscapes and shimmering, dreamy vibes - all tied together by that characteristic sense of fluid progression. Bells in New Towns could be described as their most grounded, earthy sounding release so far. On this record the ethereal components of their sound are firmly anchored by a tight, steady low-end – certainly due to the fact that the album was partly recorded by seasoned New England rock producer Justin Pizzoferrato (Dinosaur Jr., Elder, Pixies, Sonic Youth).

        Much like their spiritual kins in Yo La Tengo and Bardo Pond, Landing have eclectically picked their influences from a wide range of musical eras and cultures. The result is an electric music that speaks to the mind as well as the senses. File next to: Harmonia, Black Mountain, Slowdive, Bardo Pond. ”the whipper snappers these days, trafficking in similar sounds, have NOTHING on their sonic elders. Dreamy, droney, poppy, psychedelic, electronic perfection!” -Aqaurius Records “Groups like Stars of the Lid and E.A.R. have wandered this same misty plane in search of the perfect drone, but Landing incorporates Bardo Pond's jam aesthetic into the journey, imparting a welcome communal feel to their lengthy, meandering compositions.” 

        FORMAT INFORMATION

        Coloured LP Info: Limited lavender coloured vinyl.

        Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Nicklas Sørensen

        Solo 2

          Nicklas Sørensen's second solo effort away from his main stint as guitar player in Papir is a more placid, blissful listen than his first solo venture from 2016. On this set Nicklas digs deep into his love for vintage new age music, Brazilian bossa nova and the electronic side of kosmische, while still paying homage to the guitar heroes that has shaped his playing throughout the years, such as Vini Reilly, Manuel Göttsching and Michael Rother. Produced in collaboration with Causa Sui- and El Paraiso in-house maestro Jonas Munk in his Odense studio, the pair have conjured a set of tracks that are blistering and euphoric, yet relaxed and solemn. Sørensen's unique guitar sound, in combination with warm blankets of analog synths, vibrating filters and the occasional drum machine, paints colourful soundscapes that mediates the soul with both the ethos of new age and hints of classical minimalism and modern composition.

          Experimentation is at the heart of Sørensen's modus operandi, but he never forgets to keep his melodic guitar leads central to the proceedings. In these times – with the world's absurdity reaching new levels daily – no one should feel ashamed about leaving the world behind, slowing down for a while, and seek a state where one can emancipate oneself from reality. Chilling out simply cannot be reduced to the guilty pleasure it once was, and the album's B-side is unashamedly immersive – with Munk wrapping bubbly analog synths sequences around Sørensen's guitar loop patterns and panoramic slide guitars. The album ends on Sørensen's most inward-travelling note yet, bathing expressive guitar lines in a tender ocean of processing and reverb. Get that incense burning!
          Nicklas Sørensen is one of those artists who manages to filter ideas from the past through a modern, personal vision. ”Solo 2” is a piece of music for the present.


          STAFF COMMENTS

          Barry says: El Paraiso are one of those labels who I completely trust. I know that each release will be different, but that's definitely a good thing. As for this one, we get a STUNNING mix of wandering Balearic, sky-piercing synth trails and heady, psychedelic bliss. Marvellous.

          FORMAT INFORMATION

          LP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Causa Sui

          Vibraciones Doradas

            Causa Sui are back with a new mini-LP, the final chapter in a trilogy of sorts, beginning with Euporie Tide from 2013, through Return To Sky from 2016. Each of these four epic tracks is a testament to the fact that Causa Sui has carved out a singular niche for themselves, where vintage Sabbath-isms are filtered through a distinctively post-modern ethos. And that's what sets Causa Sui apart: the band's individual members has had their hands in a wide variety of music in the past 15 year – ambient drone, impro sessions with krautrock legends, synthesizer music, and they've made records with guys from Tortoise and Sunburned Hand of the Man. Causa Sui's brand of rock conveys everything that's so great about fuzzed-out heaviness, yet there's something about it that makes the listening experience far from trivial.

            In stark contrast to the standards of the stoner/doom scenes Causa Sui manages to be weighty and peaceful at the same – forceful, yet vulnerable, ecstatic yet thoughtful. On opener ”The Drop” the band drives a thick John Bonham groove into Can-esque freeform ecstasy before liquefying the groove into a warm ocean of shoegazy guitars and wistful synths. On 11-minute centerpiece, ”El Fuego”, they create a sonic river that seems be channelling Popol Vuh as much as Palm Desert stoner rock. And the closing title track can best be described as sounding like that Sonic Youth sludge-metal record that never was. Ounce for ounce Vibraciones Doradas is arguably Causa Sui's finest effort. 

            Astral TV

            Crystal Shores

              Astral TV is a new project from Causa Sui synth- and electronics-wiz Rasmus Rasmussen and fellow inner-space traveller Keith Canisius. On ”Crystal Shores” they create fluctuating aural landscapes, ranging from subtle and earthy to celestial and downright paranormal. Inspired in part by classic synth-scores, vintage European ”kosmische” and modern drone, the duo has created the soundtrack for a heady, sonic trip. Like with the best new age music these sounds can provide solace and regenerative energies in the listener, but ultimately the moods the duo are creating are too open and ambiguous to be neatly categorized.

              The bright analog synths and delicate Stratocaster notes occasionally conjures images of rushing water, slowly passing cumulus and weightless, orbiting satellites. But there are more mysterious undercurrents in this music as well – periodically pulling it into peculiar, hypnagogic realms, where ghostly digital presences awake. ”Crystal Shores” is awash in layers of tonal perfection, and while it constantly evolves, there's a unified feel to each of its gorgeous vinyl sides. The duo has that rare ability to create a sense of familiarity without feeling like a retread. Fans of minimalism, ambient and vintage synth scores will find much to delight in in these multicoloured, rich-sounding grooves.

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              Coloured LP Info: Transparent blue vinyl.

              Black Cube Marriage is a unique ensemble consisting of legendary Chicago-based cornetist, sound manipulator and improviser Rob Mazurek (Tortoise, Exploding Star Orchestra, Isotope 217 and others), members of his Brazilian connection Sao Paolo Underground, Austin-based freeform unit Marriage and special guests Jonathan Horne (guitar, saxophone) and Steve Jansen (tapes, guitar). Formed in the wake of a couple of Austin, Texas shows in late 2015, this 11-person strong ensemble creates waves of sound that can best be described as cathartic. Astral Cube draws from multiple styles and traditions and the result is a sonic eruption where past, present, north, east, south, organic and electronic collides and is poured into the unknown.

              Traces of cosmic jazz – think Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Sun Ra – appearalongside abstract electronics and heavily manipulated instruments – not unlike Autechre or Matmos. Occasionally the sounds this group is creating conjures mental imagery of flourishing nature, colourful wildlife, flowing mountain streams and ancient rituals – other times the glistening sonic textures evokes images of buzzing urban power lines or technology gone haywire. It’s ceremonial, yet deeply futuristic music. Powerful, unknown, surreal. A sonic outpouring of light an energy. This is post-everything psychedelia at the outer limits of musical possibilities.

              FORMAT INFORMATION

              LP includes MP3 Download Code.

              Mythic Sunship

              Land Between Rivers

              On their 2nd album on El Paraiso, Copenhagen quartet Mythic Sunship drives even thicker grooves into their niche of extended cave-man fuzz voyages. With a mold shaped around Copenhagen’s deep underground, like that of the avant-noise- punk venue Mayhem and label Posh Isolation, Mythic Sunship cuts a sharp edge into their 10+ minutes sagas, often churning out tracks with seemingly endless amounts of energy. It’s all here: wild bursts of fuzzy and echo-perplexed guitars, thick Geezery basslines, and a galloping myriad of drums tossing and turning like a wild beast.

              What Mythic Sunship delivers in raw, untamed energy, is kept in place by their deeply grounded tone: Land Between Rivers was captured in a wooden cabin in the north of Sealand, Denmark, where the band secluded themselves and drove deep, making their release as akin to earthy doom as to sprawled-out krautrock - making this feel like the Götterdämmerung of scandinavian heavy psych. Causa Sui’s Jonas Munk took on mixing duties, amplifying the earth tone and adding his sense of space and depth to the recording - thereby adding one of the heaviest as well as trippiest releases in the El Paraiso catalogue.

              This limited boxset captures Causa Sui at two very special nights: At the release parties of Euporie Tide (2013) & Return To Sky (2016). While the two albums are tight and meticulous sizes, that helped propel the band to the very pinnacle of European stoner-psych, this heavy package documents the band at their most free and adventurous. Since the band seldomly performes live, this may very well be your best chance to experience what the band are capable of at their best! One show is recorded at avantgarde institution extraordinaire Jazzhouse, while the other captures the sounds of legendary underground venue Dragens Hule in a warm summer night of 2013, where the band played in front of a small, ecstatic crowd until the wee hours.

              Both shows were recorded multitrack with an A-grade selection of mics and mixed and mastered by Jonas Munk. During these three discs Causa Sui aren't merely running through classic cuts from the catalogue. Each track is explored, reinterpreted and given new life – often straying far away from its original roots with a fervent energy. One minute the band is bluesy and heavy, the next they're repetitive and blissed-out or venturing into a cacophony of Albert Ayler-like sax bursts, free-form electronics and feedback. Swedish saxophone player Johan Riedenlow joins both shows and Papir-guitar player Nicklas Sørensen occasionally adds his magic to the Dragens Hule set – including a towering 13-minute version of Eternal Flow, that seems to channel the energy of mid-1970s Popol Vuh, as well as a breezy cover version of Agitation Free's ”First Communication”. ”Ju-Ju Blues” from the Jazzhouse set is Causa Sui at their most fuzzed out and Hendrixian, reaching new improvisational heights, whereas ”Dawn Passage” feels like an obvious fusion of Tame Impala and Allman Brothers.

              On the Dragens Hule sets the band goes all the way out! ”Portixeddu / Tropic Of Capricorn” turns Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis into a crazed sludge-fest, and fan-favourites ”El Paraiso” and “Red Valley” appear here in their ultimate versions. To cap things off the band delivers a 17-minute exclusive tribute to John Coltrane's ”A Love Supreme” featuring both Johan Riedenlow and Nicklas Sørensen. The vinyl version of Live In Copenhagen comes as three LPs in heavy duty sleeves packed in a deluxe slipcase box. Limited to 1000 copies. 

              The Southern California psych scene is flourishing these days, with bands such as Earthless, Joy, Brian Ellis Group and Astra conjuring new magic from styles of bygone years. But no other band channels the colour, warmth and energy of the coastal SoCal scenery as well as San Diego's native sons Monarch. ”Two Isles”, their debut album, was recorded and produced by local glitterati Brian Ellis, adding a sense of focus and depth to the sound these guys have been developing throughout years and years of aural explorations while growing up together.

              More than anything ”Two Isles” is the perfect head trip for easy summer days - or all those other days you wish felt like those. It's full of breezy Allman Brothers guitar leads gliding effortlessly on top of gentle, and sometimes not so gentle, prog-rock structures. Even when it get's blustery and heavy there's an airy, inviting quality to Monarch's music that makes you feel all fuzzy inside. With supreme musicianship they're somehow connecting the dots between classic California rock, prog, pastoral pop and the vivid, expansiveness of early 1990s British shoegaze. Indeed these guys have created something that transcends sounding like a time capsule.

              While psychedelia might be the prism that everything is projected through, ”Two Isles” reveals the fact that this is a group of people who grew up on a wide range sounds available in the diverse San Diego scene: ambient, indie, math, jazz and whatever else was available to experience. It's about mood and texture as much as it's about the ROCK, and might just be the perfect companion for travelling somewhere, physically or mentally.


              With a band name mingled from album titles by John Coltrane and Sun Ra one might expect Mythic Sunship to be jazz band. However, this is not quite the case, although the Copenhagen quartet shares a similar sense of exploration and general untamedness with that of the two masters of cosmic jazz. The destination is transcendence alright, but the vehicle, ultimately, is assembled from decades of ROCK! Not your dad’s rock exactly (unless your dad hung out in Münich or Wümme in the early 1970s, that is), but nonetheless ROCK, where ferocious drum-pounding and thick, Geezery basslines adds fuel to an endless pyre of blazed-out dual fuzz guitar action. This stuff is wild.

              Spiritually, the band seems connected to present day So Cal psych-rock, but listening to Ouroboros, their debut album, also reveals the band’s strong ties to the Copenhagen underground scene: members of the band brushing elbows with the avant-garde noise of the record label Posh Isolation as well as the Mayhem venue, and even chips in with the new weird-commune of the Festival of Endless Gratitude. These bros are in the zone alright! There’s plenty of blissed-out riff-worshipping here, but there’s also something slightly unsettling in the band’s skyward travels - perhaps a longing for spiritual redemption? Maybe the road to Satori isn’t necessarily pretty after all. File next to: Amon Düül II, Earthless, Guru Guru, Travellin’ Flower Band.


              First solo album from Papir guitar player Nicklas Sørensen! While there’s certain similarities with the oeuvre Nicklas has created with Papir it quickly becomes apparent that this is something quite different. “Solo” begins and ends with the instrument the Copenhagen native fully masters by now: the guitar. Throughout the album his main instrument is being explored as a generator of otherworldly, esoteric sounds as well as a compositional tool and - perhaps most importantly - a transmitter of pristine, cascading melodies.

              There’s a peaceful, savory quality to the record that manifests a musical maturity. With help from the rhythm section of Papir as well as Causa Sui’s Jonas mun (who also recorded the album in El Paraiso Records’ new studio) Nicklas has created a wide, shimmering sound that seems to allude to a multitude of different styles and traditions. Considering that Nicklas is best known as a hard rocking guitar player with a knack for improvisation it’s perhaps surprising that his inclination for pattern-based minimalism, blissed-out ambience and experimental british “oceanic” music from the 1980s and early 1990s dominates throughout this set. This is the kind of record that rewards repeated listens - each listen revealing new layers in the architecture of the sound. “Solo” is an affable, slowburning album where each component is given its own space and place to gently unfold and work its magic in the mind of the listener. 

              Pan is the first solo effort from Jonas Munk released in his own name. Jonas Munk is a musician and producer from Odense, Denmark who has been active in a wide range of musical styles for the past decade. In the European psych-rock community he is mostly known as the guitarplayer in the respected stoner/jazz/krautrock-outfit Causa Sui as well as related projects such as Chicago Odense Ensemble, a joint session project featuring members of Causa Sui, Chicago Underground Collective and Tortoise, which resulted in a 2LP released in 2011.

              Outside of these circles Munk is best known as a producer of electronic music, most recently with a full-length collaboration with German synthmeister Ulrich Schnauss. Munk also holds a masters degree in philosophy with a thesis on music and consciousness. Pan simultaneously betrays his connections to the European stoner-rock community and the world of electronic ambient music – this album combines ideas from both worlds, while the result really doesn't belong in neither of them. With Pan's motoric analog synthesizer patterns and its warm, fuzzy drones the influence from 1970's German synthesizer- and new age music, such as early Kraftwerk, Ashra and Popol Vuh, is apparent from the first note. But there's also definite traits of American styles running through this album – from the flowing optimism of Alice Coltrane and Terry Riley to the modern-day psychedelia of Comets on Fire and Bardo Pond. While large parts of Pan has been programmed on electronic equipment there's a jam-like quality emanating from album's seven tracks.

              The album reflects the idea of giving up rationality and control with the purpose of letting the music flow towards it own ends. The compositional ideas are incredibly simple while still carrying a certain depth. Soundwise Pan is all about analog machines, 30+ year old synthesizers, detuned guitars and heavily cranked vacuum tube amplifiers weaving together in fuzzy, pulsating glory. The title Pan refers to the ancient Greek word meaning all or everything.



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