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Nodo Gordiano - Sonnar CD (album) cover

SONNAR

Nodo Gordiano

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.07 | 53 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars NODO GORDIANO, Italian for "Gordian Knot" is a band that got its start as far back as 1994 and has gone through numerous lineup changes over the decades making each of its five albums a snapshot of a particular era in the band's history. Not one to flood the market with product, the newest formation of the band returned in 2020 to deliver its fifth album SONNAR featuring long time founding member Andrea De Luca (guitar, bass, keyboards) along with a bunch of new members including Daal keyboardist Davide Guidoni, sax / wind player Filippo Brilli and Russian singer / songwriter Natalia Suvorina. The result of this new lineup is nothing less than spectacular as the legendary Gordian knot has reached a new exceeding level of complexity that would make all of Phrygia proud.

For Italian progressive rock, NODO GORDIANO has opted out of the traditional symphonic prog style and ventured into a more eclectic realm where SONNAR features six unique sounding tracks including the near 21 minute behemoth "After Dusk" which is divided into eight segments and swallows up 1/3 of the album's 54 1/2 minute playing time. After a six year wait between SONNAR and the band's previous album "Nous," NODO GORDIANO returns with a majestic mix of heavy King Crimson inspired heavy prog along with excellent saxophone jazz, technical drumming complexities and Guidoni's masterful keyboard contributions which elevate the band's sound to the next level as it samples the vast universe of prog possibilities and ultimately ends up sounding like nothing else i've encountered.

The beauty of SONNAR comes from the diverse soundscapes in which it traverses. Beginning with the nine minute opener "Only Fool! Only Poet!", the new NODO GORDIANO 5.0 establishes itself as a seasoned group of musicians that has a firm command over thei musical trajectory and with the complex swirling synthesizer moments that usher in the first track, Guidoni proves to be the perfect man for the job of bringing on the subtle textures of atmospheric prog. This first offering continues De Luca's fascination with Nietzsche's famous novel "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" which provides a dark theme and sets the tone for the album's run. After a slow four minute build up into a rock oriented musical style, Suvorina begins her vocal contributions around the four minute mark as the band nurture the psychedelic aspects of the music with incessant echoey guitars and masterful rhythmic deliveries.

"Limbic Rendez-vous" leaves behind the space rock and ventures into the world of jazz-fusion with energetic sax squawking and dramatic drumming dynamism all steered into proggy pastures with complex chord progressions and the continued atmospheric sophistication of the keyboard performances. After two dramaturgic compositions fit for a hi brow stage play, the band throws another curve ball with the third track "Charun" which apparently serves as a sort of intermission before the following sprawling 20-minute behemoth. "Charun" is basically a complex tapestry of percussive sounds accompanied by a dramatic war horn sort of sound, you know that kind of blown instrument in select films that signifies the attack has begun. These two forces are all smoothed out with the proper atmospheric embellishments and like the second track, completely instrumental.

"After Dusk" launches SONNAR into the world of true hi-brow prog as a 20-minute musical monstrosity that basically stitches together eight disparate movements into one massive mojo mama that captures the band's creative expressionism in an unrelenting and undiluted deluge of pure prog rock energy that captures all essences of a band truly reaching its creative apex. The track wends and winds through various moods with a consistent shift of tempos, dynamics and features knotty instrumental workouts as well as tender vocal performances. While 20 minute plus tracks can easily linger on running on empty in the creativity department, NODO GORDIANO 5.0 easily keeps this track in the relevance zone and crafts one of the true highlights of the entire album.

With the highlight of the album roughly centered in the middle of the album, it would be easy to assume that the final two tracks are without merit but that is not the case as the band once again crafts a moody mix of diverse sounds. "Vanth" is primarily dominated by a beefy bass groove with guitar arpeggios but also features a creepy theremin sounding keyboard attack along with the by now established "Red" era guitar antics of King Crimson. This one is another instrumental. The closing title track ends this bountiful bonanza of Italian prog with another lengthy track that exceeds eight minutes. Starting dark, slow and moody, with a lengthy three minute build up of intensity before breaking into a vocal oriented track. Laced with a dark and dramatic atmospheric slice of Crimsonian guitar oriented prog, SONNAR ends.

NODO GORDIANO delivered a true surprise in 2002 with SONNAR. While the majority of modern Italian prog bands are mining the symphonic prog of the past, some with uncanny results, NODO GORDIANO on the other hand strives for a true sense of originality, that while not outside the generous implementation of influences, casts its net wide and far to bring a truly eclectic mix of styles to the work table. The addition of Guidoni cannot be emphasized enough as the best decision NODO GORDIANO has made since his keyboard heft single-handedly brings a multitude of high dimensionality to the overall presentation of the music at hand. With SONNAR, this band has elevated itself into a new arena of unique 21st century prog that i truly hope continues to venture down this path. SONNAR walks the tightrope of established tried and true prog styles while fearlessly engaging in experimental extravaganzas. This is indeed one of my top prog picks for 2020 and a whopping big bravissimo to all involved!

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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