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Gordian Knot

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Gordian Knot Emergent album cover
3.77 | 181 ratings | 22 reviews | 28% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2002

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Arsis (1:59)
2. Muttersprache (6:26)
3. A Shaman's Whisper (6:33)
4. Fischer's Gambit (5:43)
5. Grace (live *) (8:27)
6. Some Brighter Thing (7:34)
7. The Brook the Ocean (4:06)
8. Singing Deep Mountain (9:00)

Total Time 49:48

Bonus track on 2002 Japan edition:
9. Surround Me (4:06)

* Recorded in concert at Beall Concert Hall, Eugene, Oregon.

Line-up / Musicians

- Jason Göbel / guitar (2-4,6,8,9)
- Sean Malone / bass (1,2,4,6-9), Chapman Stick (2,3,5,8), guitar & keyboards (2-4,6-8), EBow (2,6,8), loops (2,4,7), Echoplex (5), vocals (8), arranger & co-producer
- Bill Bruford / slit drum (3), drums (6-8)

- Sonia Lynn / additional vocals (8)
- Steve Hackett / guitar (2,6,8)
- Paul Masvidal / guitar (3)
- Jim Matheos / steel- (4,6,8) & nylon-string (4) acoustic guitars
- Sean Reinert / drums (3,4), electronic drums (2,9)

Releases information

Artwork: Travis Smith

CD Avalon ‎- MICP 10343 (2002, Japan) With a bonus track
CD Sensory ‎- SR 3016 (2003, US)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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GORDIAN KNOT Emergent ratings distribution

(181 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(28%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (3%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

GORDIAN KNOT Emergent reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Gordian Knot is Sean Malone. This is his second baby and it is a more mature twin to the first. Malone's compositions are instrumental and heavily influenced by King Crimson. Somewhere on the hallowed ground between Lark's Tongues and Thrak. Some metal elements mixed with fusion and pulled together with a prog sensibility. Guests include; Bill Bruford, Steve Hackett, icons of the genre with guitarsist Jim Matheos (Fates Warning and OSI), Jason Gobel and Paul Masvidal. Drummer Sean Reinert supplies some bombast to spark the project along. Bruford is in fine form on this one. The Brook the Ocean plays off a moment in time from Bill's past. The more sonically spare moments are the best, Fischer's Gambit (re-created from Sean's solo album, CORTLANDT) and Some Brighter Thing. Malone is a force to be reckonned with in his solo bass pieces, Arsis and Grace (live).

This is a worthy effort in the instrumental realm, hard enough to keep metal fans listening and diverse enough to intrigue prog nerds. Sean Malone is a name which we'll be hearing more about, me thinks?

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Techno-prog impeccably played by masters but soulless and aimless. Too many of thes albums appear nowadays and especially with the Trey Gunn crowd . They are all excellent musician but this mental masturbation and premature ejaculation music. No offence meant to anybody as this only reflects my opinion and nothing else, but I always wondered how anyone could listen to such technical music without being bothered by the lack of soul.

Give it another Halfstar;-)

Review by lor68
3 stars Well if you're into the style of "Liquid Tension Experiment" or prefer other bands closer to such RIO music, you can appreciate this work very much..if not, it's better you choose other styles, such as for example those ones into the discography by "A Triggering Myth" or that one by "Niacin", the fusion prog band!! The instrumental section concerning the guitar's interplay, reminds me of the job performed by Trey Gunn with Robert Fripp, inside the best line-up of King Crimson in the nineties!It's a special modern art rock, even though the hypnotic music passages sometimes become depends on your tastes naturally and -also in this case- I don't want to affect your opinion!


Review by Muzikman
5 stars Sean Malone is the driving force and creative genius behind the ultra talented group GORDIAN KNOT. With the band's latest release "Emergent" their heady lineup pumps out tracks of hard driving progressive rock and jazz-rock fusion to satisfy every type of progressive music lover's taste buds.

Malone and many others including Steve HACKETT (GENESIS, GTR) and Bill BRUFORD (YES, KING CRIMSON, and GENESIS), add their many talents and experience to the seemingly endless ongoing development of each composition on this CD. The eight tracks of elating prog-rock come packaged with tight grooves, complicated rhythms, and odd timing and quick changes. To make the circle of events complete, all-inclusive sonics and engineering balance out the perfection of sound you will hear on each track. The discerning and sophisticated listener may be challenged to listen to this CD several times to pick apart all of the complexities found in every song.

"Emergent" indeed, this is one band you should stand up and take notice of now. Remember the name prog heads, GORDIAN KNOT.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars "Emergent", Sean Malone's second Gordian Knot venture, displays a more increased sense of sonic power in comparison with the excellent debut album: this time things tend to come out more aggressive, patently rougher on many passages, yet keeping an amazing level of distinction and polished exquisiteness in every inch of every single sound. After the mysteriously Spartan intro 'Arsis', two robust numbers titled 'Muttersprache' and 'A Shaman's Whisper' come to the fore, filling the atmosphere with ballsy playing cleverly coordinated in a well-adjusted equilibrium between all performers: the main motifs are given enough room to leave their signature on the listener's mind loud and clear, while the solos provided by Malone's partners (maestro Hackett is one of them, as well as lifelong friend Jason Göbel) create their respective spaces while preserving the individual tracks' spirits. 'Fischer's Gambit' finds Malone ands friends exploring more introspective realms: prog metal guitarist Jim Matheos (Fates Warning, O.S.I.) displays his subtle sensibility on classical guitar for good effect, properly conveying the melancholic aura inherent to the theme. The introspective vibe keeps going with this Stick-only rendition of 'Grace' [originally part of the debut album's repertoire], whose melodic magic provides an ethereal landscape for mental relaxation. 'Some Brighter Thing' brings back some of the metallic brightness that was instilled in tracks 2 & 3, albeit on a slower tempo and with a more sustained cadence. As in 'Muttersprache', Hackett displays his edgy facet while Bill Bruford lays a precise foundation in one of his last rock-oriented interventions during this millennium. Bruford's jazzy side (his favourite) is given room in 'The Brook The River', a jam jointly constructed by him and Malone, who doubles on bass and keyboards: this piece should have been longer, since it showed interesting hints to the Canterbury stuff. All guitarists join the party for the 9-minute closing track 'Singing Deep Mountain'. For this occasion, the ensemble explores the realms of fusion in a most pleasant way: Bill Bruford's drumming is kept subtle as on track 6, while Matheos, Hackett and Göbel share alternately the spotlight with a couple of Malone's stick solos. The air of candid spirituality brought out by the main motif is appropriately refurbished by the use of sheer energy by all participants in a compact communion that makes the sounds flow smoothly and organically. Way back then, in 2003, I was quite impressed by this album since listen one, and eventually I set my mind to regard it as the best prog release for that year: my feelings remain the same so far, and therefore, I still regard it as a prog masterpiece or our times.
Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars Very technical and very yawn-inducing, Gordian Knot's second album is a nearly identical mix of the quite ambience and gutless metal instrumentals as the first. The listener may be occasionally impressed by the player's ability to create some excellent sonic landscapes and effects, but it is more than likely that they won't remember it enough to want to hear it again. The first album is really all one seeking this kind of instrumental music needs; the second is for serious fans of the musicians' only.
Review by Mellotron Storm
5 stars GORDIAN KNOT's debut supassed my expectations by a considerable margin, so I was ready this time for their follow-up "Emergent". Well not ready enough apparently as this blew my expectations right out of the water. Jim Matheos from FATES WARNING and Steve Hackett guest on lead guitar. In the liner notes Sean Malone (band leader and former CYNIC member) thanks them both "For taking things above and beyond expectations." Bill Bruford guests on drums while former CYNIC members Jason Gobel, Steve Masvidal and Sean Rienert also contribute to this recording.

"Arsis" is all about Sean and his bass going solo. Much like the debut record which featured Sean on keys going solo for the first track. This is very laid back. "Muttersprache" is more like it ! Very heavy drums from Rienert and to open as Malone's bass throbs and Grobel grinds away over top on his guitar. Nice. It settles as keys come in. Back to heaviness as Gobel continues to amaze with his soloing. It settles again after 2 1/2 minutes as Hackett comes in. Kicks back in before 4 1/2 minutes as Malone gets on his stick 5 minutes in and then his keys as it calms down again. Hackett's back 5 1/2 minutes in with some aggressive playing at first before settling in to the end of the song. "A Shaman's Whisper" is the first time since 1993 I understand that these 4 former CYNIC players have played on the same track. This one is heavy as Malone plays his stick for almost 2 minutes. Great sound ! Gobel and Masvidal take turns the rest of the way on lead guitar. Beautiful,emotional music. "Ficher's Gambit" is dark and restrained with a lot of bottom end. Matheos plays his nylon and steel string guitars on this one.The keys from Malone are a nice touch as well. Gobel comes in after 4 minutes on guitar. "Grace (Live)" is pretty amazing considering it's just Malone on stick and echoplex. An emotional track that gets darker before 6 minutes. Quite emotional 7 minutes in as well.

"Some Brighter Thing" opens calmly enough but a powerful soundscape with Bruford on drums comes in fast. Heavy riffs, and check out Malone on stick. Love that sound. Gobel comes in soloing for a minute.Nice. It gets very heavy until Malone's back on the stick before 3 1/2 minutes as themes are repeated. Check out Hackett 4 1/2 minutes in as he's making some incredible noises come out of his guitar. We're seeing Hackett like never before on this album. Matheos takes over for him before 5 minutes and he sounds awesome as usual. Emotional ending once again. "The Brook The Ocean" is the duo of malone and Bruford and no one else. I love the intro with the guitar, drums and keys. It all stops as we get a bass solo from Malone. The dark jazz flavoured intro is back with keys again. Some complex drumming follows. Nice Bill ! It ends as it began. "Singing Deep Mountains" features TOOL-like drumming from Bruford as guitar comes in tastefully. Matheos arrives a minute in grinding away. This is amazing ! Gobel takes over on lead guitar 2 minutes in. Keys come in and even some female vocal melodies that are so uplifting. Some stick 4 minutes in. Hackett comes in soloing before 5 1/2 minutes. This is incredible as Steve really impresses. It gets heavier 6 1/2 minutes in as Hackett bears down with an absolutely scorching solo. This is Hackett !? My God ! Female vocal melodies are back with keys before Malone ends the song with some beautiful stick.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is a 5 star record. I'm completey humbled at how emotional, atmospheric, dynamic, beautiful and complex it is.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Updated on Oct 4, 2008

A Review by Rizal B. Prasetijo (my best friend in prog)

Compared to its self debut title album (please refer to my previous posting: Gordian Knot's Gordian Knot), I found that the band attempts to push the possible boundary that musicians could achieve in combining the jazz fusion and progressive rock/metal, the two different and sometimes contradict genres, in its second album. And, as you could hear it later on, particularly on the second and third tracks - Muttersprache and A Shaman's Whisper -, Gordian Knot amazingly achieves its objective. There are also a number of changes in its personnel. While the band keeps retaining Sean Malone (guitar, bass, keyboard) as its brain and Sean Reinert (drummer), it lets go its two previous guitarists - Ron Jarzombek and Glenn Snelwar. The two guest stars - Trey Gunn and John Myung - are also not present in the second album. As a result, Gordian Knot invites two new guitarists - Jason Göbel and Jim Matheos - to join in. They also invite Steve Hackett (ex Genesis' guitarist, known as one of few guitarists pioneered the tapping technique in early 70s) and Bill Bruford (ex King Crimson and Yes' drummer). If you are a death metal fan, you'll also notice that all ex-Cynic members (Messrs. Göbel, Malone, Matheos, and Reinert) involve in the making of Gordian Knot's Emergent. Finally, before I am releasing my two cents opinion on the album, I would like to show my special gratitudes to Didit Suryadi (who first told me about this amazing band) as well as to Tatan Taufik (who ordered the album for me). Jazakumullaah khairan katsira (May Allaah reward all your good deeds).

The album is begun by Arsis, an almost two minute bass solo, displaying Sean Malone's adroitness on the fretless bass guitar and his veneration (in my opinion) to Jaco Pastorious (one of the greatest jazz bassists). For your information, Arsis (and thesis) is a phrase in musical composition, where a point being inverted, that is, it rises in one part, and falls in another, or vice versa. Furthermore, if you are an audiophilist, the track could also be used to examine whether your sound system is able to properly deliver the sub 500Hz notes or not.

Opened up by spacey atmospheric keyboard followed quickly by heavy metal staccato guitar riffs, Muttersprache (6:23, German for "mother tongue") is Gordian Knot's declaration to the musical industry that jazz fusion and progressive rock/metal can be intermingled seamlessly at even their extreme points. The composition is essentially built on the metal ambiance, but incorporating jazz chords and dissonant intervals to form a stunning mixture of these two different and contradict genres. The interplay among guitarists - started by Jason Göbel's glissando semiquaver metal guitar liners, followed by Steve Hackett's jazzy solo guitar, then Sean Malone's jazzy tunes on Chapman Stick - are absolutely ear dropping. You should also pay attention to Steve Hackett's jazzy notes using the heavy metal as the background at the end of the song. What a taunting and great musical experiment. In an attempt to further appreciate this striking piece, I would encourage you to browse Sean Malone's blog (, in which he told you the history behind the writing of the composition.

The third track, A Shaman's Whisper (6:30), essentially follows the foundation of Muttersprache. However, Messrs. Göbel (guitarist), Malone (bassist and keyboard), Reinert (drummer), Snelwar (guitarist appearing on Gordian Knot's debut album) takes the composition into a further extreme. As a result, the song is jazzier in sound than the previous track, while also being heavier. How could these gifted musicians create such extraordinary and tricky composition? The knack is to let all guitarists - begun by Sean Malone, then, Jason Göbel, then Paul Maldival, then back to Jason Gobel, back again to Paul Maldival - play jazz/jazz rock liners (with the exception of Paul Maldival's roaring semiquaver metal notes in the middle of song), while the musical background is painted by heavy metal color, sometimes even by syncopated heavy metal guitar riffs. Don't also forget to pay attention to Bill Bruford's distinctive jazzy syncopated slit drumming and Sean Reinert forceful and expressive rock drumming in this stunning composition. Finally, it is also interesting to note that, based on Sean Malone's blog spot, the song (originally titled Whispers at Gesthemane) was actually written during the Gordian Knot's debut album. The bridge section of the composition became an entirely new composition, titled Code/Anticode, appeared on the first Gordian Knot album (again, please see my previous posting Gordian Knot's Gordian Knot).

Marked by forceful Sean Reinhart's drum beats and Sean Malone's dissonant keyboard chords, Fischer's Gambit (5:38) quickly reminds me on how stunning and shocking the Robert "Bobby" Fischer's opening moves (knows as Fischer's Gambit) are (please refer to for further details). Sean Malone swinging dark keyboard personifies trepidation experienced by Fischer's opponents in predicting and reacting to his gambit, while Jim Matheos' solo acoustic guitar, created Spanish and tropical seaside senses, symbolizes Fischer's contentment in putting his opponent into difficulties. What a mind boggling composition! Here, Gordian Knot is able to describe two opposing feelings - nervousness and indulgence - seamlessly in one solid song.

The next track, Grace (the live version, 8:24), is a bolder and richer version of a soothing and relaxing of Grace, appeared as the last track on Gordian Knot's debut album, in my view. Using the Chapman Stick and Echoplex, Sean Malone ingeniously creates so much layers of soundscape, flourish, and atmosphere, you'd think there are a number of musicians appeared on the stage. However, the composition never really goes anywhere, and isn't supposed to. This is the weakest song in the entire album in my opinion.

Opened up by twenty second soft piano, I see Some Brighter Thing (7:28) is a softer variation of A Shaman's Whisper. Jason Göbel's staccato metal guitar riffs quickly take over the scene and act as an intro for Sean Malone's glissando crotchet, quaver, and semiquaver Chapman Stick liners for almost 60 seconds. Here lies the difference between A Shaman's Whisper and Some Brighter Thing. The former composition put all guitarists on jazz/jazz rock mode, while painted the background by metal riffs. The latter song alternates the object and the background. It started with Jason Göbel, followed by Sean Malone on solo jazz/jazz rock notes and uses the metal ambiance as the background. Then, suddenly at 3:58", marked by stunning syncopated and hocketing Sean Malone's piano, Bill Bruford drumming, and Jason Göbel's guitar riffs for slightly over 30 seconds, the order is reversed. Steve Hackett plays a solo heavy rock guitar, followed by Jim Matheos on a similar mode, but the background turns into jazz/jazz rock ambiance. The composition is closed by jazzy/jazz rock ambiance.

Marked by Bill Bruford's intense drumming and Sean Malone's forceful piano chords for 20 seconds, The Brook The Ocean (4:00) is a collegial work of two talented musicians sharing their magic chemistries in the progressive jazz corridor. Sean Malone's solo dissonance bass liners, which again reminding me to Jaco Pastorius' transcendent bass notes, snare my metal cone speakers for the next 70 seconds (Beware: You won't be able to enjoy this interlude if your sound system could not properly generate sub 500Hz liners). Then, both Messrs. Bruford and Malone come together for almost 60 seconds. At 2:35, Bill Bruford puts forward his distinctive forceful, highly precise, polyrhythmic solo drumming for 70 seconds, and the composition is closed by the return of Sean Malone's keyboard and bass with a dazzling violence. The intensity of these musicians clearly imitates the unpredictable and strength of sea waves in its nature.

The last track, Singing Deep Mountain (8:57), is built on a progressive jazz foundation, but incorporating heavy rock liners and a number of augmenting guitar cannon in its body. Opened up with steady rhythm bass and drumming for about 16 seconds, Jim Matheos' syncopated jazz guitar notes are met with Jason Göbel syncopated rock guitar riffs for almost 70 seconds. Then, gradually, Jason Göbel takes over with his heavy rock guitar liners. At 2:55, the insertion of uplifting melodies makes the composition becoming somewhat brighter and lighter. Sean Malone's jazzy Chapman Stick further accentuates the ambiance. However, the song gradually turns darker and heavier, though still retaining its jazzy nuances, at 5:02. This is apparently a prelude for Steve Hackett's solo jazz rock guitar, lasting for 20 seconds. As the composition becoming further darker and heavier, Steve Hackett finally unleashes his roaring and dense heavy rock liners, which are accompanied by Sean Malone's somewhat metal bass sound, at 6:22 for slightly over 30 seconds. Interestingly, while the rock/metal ambiance gains momentum, Bill Bruford is keeping his jazz drum beats intact. Gradually, as the song becomes brighter and lighter again, wordless vocal melodies (quite electronically processed so they barely sound like vocals) takes the scene for almost 80 seconds. At 8:15", the composition slows and fades out, giving you a pleasure ending. It is interesting to note that if you read Sean Malone's blog, he realized afterwards that the ending of the song is a resemblance to the end of Yes' "And You And I".

I would never be hesitant to recommend Gordian Knot's Emergent to any progressive rock, metal, and jazz followers as hearing the album would open your musical horizon what the mixture of these genres could do. Happy listening!

Best regards, Rizal B. Prasetijo

Notes: We have conducted a series of regular ProgRing (Progressive Gathering) down here in Jakarta to discuss about recent issues in progressive music. Rizal has been very vocal in promoting how great Sean Malone's Gordian Knot is in the recent progring to the audience. In fact, we just met last night and he was still enthusiastic talking about Gordian Knot. Keep on proggin' .., Rizal!


A Review by Gatot

I heard the Gordian Knot name quite long time ago from metal heads in my country and I though the band was a pure metal band until last progressive gathering (ProgRing) on end of May 08. Yeah, we have committed to have a regular prog gathering among those prog heads in Jakarta at least once in a month. One of the attendees mentioned Gordian Knot as a terrific prog band led by a bass player Sean Malone. So since that prog gathering I chased the album and found this "Emergent" which happens to be the band (project?) second release. One of the chief reasons was the big names like Bill Bruford (Yes, King Crimson, UK, Genesis, Earth Work, etc), Steve Hackett (Genesis), Jim Matheos (Fates Warning). It creates high curiosity to me really. And, yes! Finally I got one of the albums. Yeaaaaahhh ...!!! Let's enjoy the journey with Gordian Knot music ...

Not an egoistic composer ., bravo Malone!

My prog colleague is right, this is definitely an excellent album! I understand from a little research I have done that Sean Malone is basically a composer. Yes, he is! More to it, I need to add that he is not a kind of "egoistic" composers who force the musical instrument capability into their music dominantly. Sorry to say, I have to tell you that John Petrucci, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani are examples of composers who always put their instrument (guitar) as dominant factor to their music - that's why I have never adored their music. They are better called "musician" not "composer". You might compare with Steve Hacket who always positions himself as a true composer: creating music by emphasizing holistic approach in songwriting, putting instruments on what is best for the music. He does not force every song must be guitar dominated arrangement. That's why I like almost all Hackett solo albums because he is a true composer not just a musician.

Sean Malone is in the same position as Steve Hackett. He has adopted holistic approach in songwriting by considering what best for the message in the music he is trying to articulate and not necessarily from instruments where he is mastering with. The result is a well rounded composition featuring multi instruments. Of course there are spaces where he demonstrates his great bass playing but it does not hamper the whole music. The opening track "Arsis" (1:59), for example, it's a great place for him to demonstrate his love and mastery in bass guitar. I do enjoy this ambient bass guitar solo and as far as I remember I have never heard any album that opens with bass guitar solo.

In other tracks like "Muttersprache" (6:26) and "A Shaman's Whisper" (6:33) he lets guitar makes the lead to the music while he plays normal bass guitar playing. In fact, in "Muttersprache", I can see a nice combination of prog met riffs accompanying guitar playing in the vein of King Crimson's Fripp. It's really a grandiose track right after overture. Sean has applied different time signatures and many style changes in the music. Sometimes you can hear keyboard playing in the vein of ELP but this time accompanied by King Crimson's drummer Bill Bruford. Oh man .. can you imagine that? Well, I suggest you purchase the album, so that you can proof yourself on what I mean here. If you are not happy, I think you might not be a prog head. This track is really greeeaaaaat.!!!

"A Shaman's Whisper" (6:33) starts with metal riffs followed beautifully with musical break that features percussion. Guitar solo then takes the lead backed by musical riffs containing guitar, bass and drum. It's another guitar-based composition. "Fischer's Gambit" (5:43) brings the music to slower tempo with bass guitar serves as beat keeper accompanying electric piano solo in jazz style. The acoustic guitar solo performed is excellent. On "Grace (Live)" (8:27) the major instruments used are guitar solo in improvisation mode.

On "Some Brighter Thing" (7:34), Sean Malone demonstrates his bass guitar mastery through thick and dynamic bass lines with nice syncopation, combined beautifully by Bruford unique snare sounds. This track reminds me to Bruford's "One of A Kind" album, musically. The guitar solo is quite complex but mixed thinly. "The Brook The Ocean" (4:06) demonstrates again the unique snare sound of Bill Bruford followed by bass guitar solo that reminds me to Yes's "Heart of The Sunrise" at the beginning. What follows is a dynamic solo which reminds me to Jaco Pastorius bass playing style. When Bruford enters his drumming, it reminds me to his "Sahara of Snow". Wow! I do enjoy this track especially on the combined bass guitar work by Malone and drumming by Bruford. It's fabulous!

The concluding track "Singing Deep Mountain" is the longest track (9:00) in this album. It starts mellow and ambient with bass guitar followed excellently with killing Bruford drum beats and great Hackett guitar solo in thin sound. The double guitar solo is really great. There are segments with acoustic guitar that enrich the whole textures of the music. The later part of this song contains vocal work in ambient mode.

Overall, I respect highly this album as an excellent album. I tend to give this album with a five star rating (masterpiece) but I just want to make sure the "hallo effect" is gone later. For the time being I'd rather put this album as an excellent addition to any prog music collection. I might revise this rating later with more spins. Highly recommended, 4 stars plus. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW (i-Rock! Music Community)

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Second album of great bassist Sean Malone project Gordian Knot continues excellent musical ideas, started at their debut. Shortly, it is a technicaly and melodicaly perfect mix between jazz fusion and progressive metal. Instrumental album consists of melted technique, jazzy arrangements and metal heaviness. Differently from their debut, big part of team is changed, we have two new great musicians on board: Bill Bruford and Steve Hackett!

I like that kind of music and I believe that we have there something what will give a birth of new generation progresive rock in XXI century. Not boring symphonic citates or mainstream neo- prog cliches are included at all. Not heavy metal stereotypes / machismo, not indie/brit-pop traces ( in a kind of Porcupine Tree of last years) presented . Just very professional elements from fusion and prog-metal, without tons of dated and boring prog rock atributes. Yes, sound isn't very soulful, but not very cold as well. You hear cool warmless in their music, and it's a real music of the first decade of XXI century! In comparance with debut ( and I believe because of line-up changes) music is a bit far from King Crimsonian influence, little slower and even warmer.

I believe, that this album could be interesting to listen for wide circle of modern prog lovers, starting from heavy prog fans, till Zappa's maniacs. Must have for Cynic/Sean Malone fans.

Review by Negoba
3 stars Very Solid Prog / Jazz / Metal Fusion

I had listened to Gordian Knot on internet radio quite a few times, left a little underwhelmed, and finally bought EMERGENT during my Cynic craze phase. Again, coming off the phenomenal band that was Cynic, Gordian Knot was a bit of a letdown. However, as I'd bought the album on CD, it remained in my car for awhile and I got a number of listens all the way through the album. Slowly, I began listening to the album on its own merits rather than in comparison to its parent band. The impression that resulted was that this is a very solid piece of instrumental metal fusion, a genre I've been listening to for over 20 years.

Most metal fusion is an excuse for guitar soloing, and this one has that in great abundance. However, the beauty is that the soloing comes from a number of very contrasting players. The first is bandleader and bassist Sean Malone, who provides the usual jazzy acrobatics on bass, but also plays the multi-string tap instrument, the Chapman stick. Several of the "guitar solos" are actually the Stick. One of the nicest moments on the album is the live "Grace" which is simply Malone with the Stick and a loop pedal. By the end, he has built a beautiful stack of layers which include complex chordal beds, bass foundation, and nimble soloing that sounds more like Windham Hill than death metal.

Other contributors are Cynic alumni Jason Gobel and Paul Masdival who give nice performances with a more metallic tinge. Better are the moments from Fates Warning axeslinger Jim Matheos, who provides classical and acoustic work. The primary guitarist, however, is Steve Hackett, whose role is almost completely textural. His solos, if one would call them that, are exercises in timbre, long sustained notes slipping into each other in a way only his fingers find. It is Hackett's work, along with jazzmeister Bill Bruford, that take this a step up from the usual instrumental shred and make it into a real fusion album.

Most of the sounds here are much mellower than typical metal, but much crunchier than most jazz fans are going to enjoy. The result is a strangely modern flavor that works perfectly for the purpose I was using it, car music for an aging metalhead. The songs themselves aren't terribly evocative, or have a melodic identity. They're more like impressionistic color washes, a mix of flavors without a central main course.

Though I award this only a 3 star rating, this is an album that has a place in my discography, one that I reach for when I'm in the right mood. But it's not essential, it's not Cynic, but simply solid modern fusion. If you're already into instrumental metal, this is probably worth checking out. Otherwise, sample it, you might like it.

Review by Tapfret
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Losing the name game

Sub-genre:Experimental/Post Metal
For Fans of: The first Gordian Knot, late Brand X
Vocal Style:Choral background in closing piece only
Guitar Style: Varying styles both acoustic and electric.
Keyboard Style:Some piano
Percussion Style:Standard rock kit with slit drums & congas
Bass Style:Primarily come from the low end of Malone's Chapman stick with the occasional picked electric fretless bass.
Other Instruments: Chapman Stick
You are not likely to enjoy this album if: you are expecting some monumental growth via the prog all-star lineup.

Summary: The months leading up to the release of Emergent, the bands label website included a rather embarrassing amount of advertising for the new guest lineup that included prog legends Bill Bruford and Steve Hackett. The remaining players made up almost the entire lineup of Cynic. This marketing emphasis should have been a warning sign similar to a novel at the supermarket checkout on which the cover has the author's name larger than the book title. It is not as though the music is poor by any stretch. It just sounds like a rehash of the first self titled Gordian Knot release. The exception is that there are no exclusively mellow songs, save for the live version of Grace. There is also The Brook the Ocean which has a much more traditional Jazz/Rock Fusion sound than any of the debut album. Unfortunately, it comes across as more of an accommodation to the guest percussionist than something unique to the project. The sound mix is almost identical to the debut.

Final Score: The music is good enough that someone hearing this album prior to the debut album might feel it is the stronger of the two. But simple chronology makes Emergent a less important album in the scheme of Progressive Metal/Fusion than Gordian Knot. The star power that Bruford and Hackett bring do nothing other than create a résumé entry for Malone. It is my hope that he realizes his ability as a musician/composer stands on its own without such non-sense. The album is good but not great; welcome but not essential. 3 stars.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Second album Emergent issued in 2003 by this discret band Gordian Knot even featuring well known musicians from prog field is a fairly good offer but in places lacks some soul. Some top notch musicians here, besides the head of the band Sean Malone ex Cynic we have some respected and outstanding musicians like Steve Hackett, Bill Bruford, Sean Reinert ex Death and Paul Masvidal aswell from Death fame, Jim Matheos from Fates warning ,so big line up, but what about the music. Well, the music is quite experimental jazz fusion with progressive metal elements added in the mix, the result is ok, but some passages are aimless IMO. The musicianship is excellent like on Muttersprache by far the best tune from the album, the rest are ok nothing more nothing less. Technical playing , but with aimless arrangements. 3 stars.

Latest members reviews

3 stars This album is for a very special and particular public: open-minded progressive rock fans that don't mind if an album has a jazzy sound and world music influences. I consider myself as a very open-minded person and that's why I gave this album several tries. It is not easy to get an approach to t ... (read more)

Report this review (#381397) | Posted by kluseba | Sunday, January 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Sean Malone is among the most charismatic fretless bass guitarists and most essentially a great musician who loves to experiment. Gordian Knot is basically Malone's personal band. The line-up in "Emergent" is once again all-star, consisting of Malone's present (Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert ) an ... (read more)

Report this review (#300049) | Posted by DeKay | Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is an album basicly written by Sean Malone. Sean Malone, known as a member from Cynic, great Tech Death Metal band, made with this project another kind of music. The metal has almost gone and it left an instrumental music made by great musicians. I don't like the term "music for musicians" ... (read more)

Report this review (#278426) | Posted by Priamus | Sunday, April 18, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars After the sensational debut of SEAN MALONE'S GORDIAN KNOT,people was asking about the fact how soon a second album will come,better said how fast it will be released?!And this second one EMERGENT called came with major surprises and ,let's be fair,it's much better structured and inspired than ... (read more)

Report this review (#262455) | Posted by Ovidiu | Monday, January 25, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Emergent opens with a bass solo, a slow beautiful piece that sets the mark both thematically and emotionally for the rest of the album. I've heard people claim that Sean Malone's(the mastermind behind Gordian Knot and bass virtuoso of Cynic) works are "soulless" but I can't for the life of me und ... (read more)

Report this review (#252465) | Posted by Lezaza | Tuesday, November 24, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After the amazing debut album Sean Malone decides to impress us even more. The only member who has remained in the line-up (and of course Sean Malone) is Cynic's drummer Sean Reinert. As you may know, Sean Malone was part of Cynic two in their Focus period and the two guitarists from Cynic, Ja ... (read more)

Report this review (#101069) | Posted by sularetal | Thursday, November 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Second album from Gordian Knot is excellent. Sean Malone join together Bruford and Hackett talents achieve a great album. First, Malone with jazzistical influences mixed Bruford percussion take the hell to earth. Steve Hackett maestro with classical guitar compositions and sounds put the seed ... (read more)

Report this review (#44123) | Posted by Queno | Wednesday, August 24, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars without a doubt this album is a real masterpiece.listen carrefuly and several time and this album show you that is not only a music but an experience.thanks to this band i discover a new music, an intrigate musique technical but melodic.the composition are amazing. ... (read more)

Report this review (#35708) | Posted by | Wednesday, June 8, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars By far the best of the two Gordian albums! Lots of great interplay between the guitarists and the composers have worked harder with the compositions and arrangements this time, prouction is also far better. There are some references to Liquid Tension in both composition and arrangement. I like the b ... (read more)

Report this review (#17503) | Posted by Hammar | Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A misunderstood album, great ambient sounds and the ability of Malone to compose make his fellows musicians like the sounds and get involved with them. To me is a surprise to hear the cleaningness of the performances and the "battle" of malone and Bruford in "the broke the ocean" is to be noticed by ... (read more)

Report this review (#17502) | Posted by | Thursday, April 1, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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