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Sonar - Black Light CD (album) cover

BLACK LIGHT

Sonar

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars SONAR are back with a new album that was released in October of 2015. This Swiss band was influenced by KING CRIMSON, Steve Reich, Nik Bartsch and others. If there ever was a band who should be under Math Rock it's these guys. The guitarists and bass player tune their instruments to the tritones so the music is fairly dark along with being minimalistic and complex. For the first time they brought in someone from outside the band to produce and record this album. That would be David Bottrill who recorded it in Zurich before mixing this record in Toronto. Bottrill has worked with TOOL, RUSH, DT, KING CRIMSON and many others. This was recorded live in studio with no overdubs.

"Enneagram" opens with some experimental sounds and it stays minimalistic until it starts to pick up with guitar. This is minimalistic and precise and it sounds really good. "Black Light" does have a "Larks Tongues In Aspic II" vibe according to guitarist Stephan Thelan. It opens with guitar which is the focus for the most part. "Orbit 5.7" is my favourite. I just like the music in relation to the title of this song as it does feel like we are out in deep space. Check it out 3 minutes in as it turns minimalistic and dark. I also dig the sound 5 1/2 minutes in and how it builds 7 minutes in.

"Angular Momentum" is very laid back to start but it becomes even more so 3 minutes in then it builds before it becomes very relaxed again before building again late. "String Geometry" has this repetitive, minimalistic sound to it although I much prefer when it turns fuller 3 minutes in. "Critical Mass" is the closer and longest tune at 10 1/2 minutes. It starts off with some passion before settling right down then building. The opening sound is back after 4 1/2 minutes. It's very mellow before 8 minutes to the end.

I do prefer this one to the last one but not by a lot. Both are solid 4 star albums in my opinion. I just get lost in this album even if Math Rock is not a sub-genre i'm big into.

Report this review (#1504038)
Posted Saturday, December 26, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars SONOR ARCHITECTURES SONAR is an encryption standing for "SONic ARchitecture", and their music, of an unique simplicity and magic, hypnotic and obsessive, is like defining deconstructions and reconstructions of a lost kenopsystical city resembling the paintings of deChirico. The sonar fluid embraces you and set you over with it on visual dreaming phantasms. The sound rhythmical substance, working precisely like a Swiss watch, become reductive to an essence minimalism molded with fine refinement. The two guitar players in the group formula (Stephan Thelen and Bernhard Wagner), we could expect at a demonstration of virtuosity, at passionate fast speed dialogues with notes tighten tumultuous together as in the ubiquitous rock tradition. Backed up by Christian Kuntner (bass) and Manuel Pasquinelli (drums), the two guitar players builds up the dialogue in complementary in which each resonates together in unwonted and fascinating sound landscapes. The result is a rigorous build up symbiosis which thought to essence in complex polyphonies. The music of SONAR is a retrospection in the intuitive expressionism of Stockhausen, with stylistic nuances which can be associated with the music of Robert Fripp, Nik Bärtsch Ronin or Steve Reich. Founded in 2010 in the underground clubs of Zürich, the group SONAR shapes itself an unique place in the contemporary progressive music, all their albums being downright perfect. The uncanny atmosphere streaming out of the sound, so unique but so recognizable, is maybe due as well to the way as the members of the group tune up their instruments in the three-tonic module (C / F# / C / F# / C / F#), a specific feature to be found in the primitive ? tribal or ritualistic of "Maori", "Vedic" or "Herranza" music. Simple by appearance, complex by the structure of the polyphonic layer lines which overlaps in rhythmical asymmetries, the sound product is eluding the easy ways and stereotypes of the conventional compositions. The eccentricity of the SONAR sound it's not a researched one, but an undisguised vision of the idiosyncratic sound aesthetics the members of the group share together. The last SONIC album, "Black Light" from 2015, chronological their fourth, was recorded live in the studio, without any additions at editing. This technical element of recording creates in whole an organized (oxymoronic) spontaneous state of mind, as well as an emotion of a genuine kind. "Ennergram", the tune that opens the album, lines up the generic approach of the mathematical sound of the entire album. From the very first accords touches of the "Black Light" tune, we can recognize the atmospheric influence of the "Lark's Tongues In Aspic" (King Crimson) tune, theme which SONAR group is dressing it up and takes it over to a novel sonic spatiality. Already being placed on this orbit of travelling space landscapes, the follow up "Orbit 5.7" is a melodic geometry delineating even more the rhythmic mathematics in "Enneagram". The repetitive rhythmic sequence of "Angular Momentum" is inducing a psychedelic trance. "Stri Geometry" is a melodic geometry build up on contretemps measures. The last recorded tune in the studio, "Critical Mass" is the most intricate and "nervous" tune on the album. The album wraps up with two live bonus tracks: "Twofold Covering" and "Tromsö" which rounds out and emphasize this exceptional production. Listening to the album "Black Light" is a real and surprisingly pleasant experience for which I give 5 stars without hesitation ! Daniel Ionescu
Report this review (#1705001)
Posted Saturday, March 25, 2017 | Review Permalink

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