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Nodo Gordiano - Sonnar CD (album) cover

SONNAR

Nodo Gordiano

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.04 | 67 ratings

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Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator
Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
4 stars Modern Italian collective Nodo Gordiano are comprised of a revolving line-up of musical collaborators formed around sole remaining founding member/bassist Andrea De Luca, and their few releases over their twenty five-plus career have delivered an eclectic and unpredictable variety of progressive music styles. This time around, with De Luca backed up by Filippo Brilli on sax/wind instruments, percussionist Davide Guidoni of the experimental Daal project and Russian singer-songwriter Natalia Suvorina Suvorina, the project takes on a diverse multi-national approach, with this latest release, 2020's `Sonnar', coming across like a noisy and flamboyant fusion of multiple eras of King Crimson, US instrumentalists Djam Karet and even the more avant-garde/Rock-in-Opposition flavoured Italian prog acts.

Ambition hits right from the start, and nine-minute opener `Only Fool! Only Poet!' has this latest incarnation of the band offering an adaption of part of German writer Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophical novel `Thus Spoke Zarathustra'. For the listener, that means hazily swirling electronics, chiming guitars and exotic drum patterns building carefully in drama, with Natalia's voice cooing with menace, weariness and mania before a frantic final instrumental turn.

First instrumental `Limbic Rendez-vous' is a storm of raging sax, stuttering drum thrashes, grumbling bass and ragged guitar strumming that delivers a wild vintage Seventies Italian prog flavour before grinding it together with jazzy touches, electronic weirdness and backward vocal effects. Named after an underworld guide found in Estruscan mythology, follow-up gothic interlude `Charun' then weaves a short dreamscape of unnerving machine programming, heavy guitar distortion and icy synth ambiance.

All lengthy epics make prog fans salivate like dogs, and the eight-part, twenty minute suite `After Dark' is a deranged and powerful example! A showcase of brash noise, maddening tension and atmospheric spectacle, it takes initial inspiration from the Seventies period of King Crimson - Natalia even purrs that she's a "Twenty-first century schizoid girl" here! - and gives it a heavy modern makeover. It's a mix of late-night jazzy piano splinters, dirty sax wafting and relentlessly muscular guitar twists, giving way to contemplative bass musings and a battery of writhing drum busyness around a blur of fragmented, stream-of-consciousness imagery in its words (and listen especially for a superb guitar solo that slowly rises in stature and fire in the final minutes). consciousness imagery in its words (and listen especially for a superb guitar solo that slowly rises in stature and fire in the final minutes).

`Vanth' is a mysterious instrumental with guitars that move between dreamily shimmering and harder metallic toughness around enveloping synth washes and slithering bass. The melancholic title track `Sonnar' closes the set with thoughtful electric guitar soloing ruminations and delicate electric piano tiptoe trickles before rumbling to life as a defiant indie pop/rocker that almost reminds of moody Swedish proggers Paatos.

`Sonnar' progresses darkly without being overwhelmingly gloomy, and relentlessly thrills with a diversity of moods and sounds to cast a noisily seductive charm. Its instrumental arrangements are performed with intelligence and sophistication by the talented and subtle musicians, and the vocal passages hold a quirky spirit. King Crimson fans will especially love this disc (although it's a fine example of `influenced by' over imitation or merely remaking what has come before), but it ultimately proves that this latest version of Nodo Gordiano is ripe with original ideas all their own and have delivered a gutsy, fascinating and endlessly exciting work that easily ranks among the finest progressive rock discs of 2020.

Four stars.

Aussie-Byrd-Brother | 4/5 |

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