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Gordian Knot

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Gordian Knot Gordian Knot album cover
3.97 | 167 ratings | 20 reviews | 36% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Galois (2:05)
2. Code / Anticode (6:44)
3. Reflections (6:49)
4. Megrez (4:00)
5. Singularity (4:43)
6. Redemption's Way (6:58)
7. Kom Süsser Tod, Kom Sel'ge (2:24)
8. River's Dancing (7:35)
9. Srikara Tal (9:18)
10. Grace (7:34)

Total Time 58:10

Bonus track on 1998 Japan edition:
11. Unquity Road (5:28)

Line-up / Musicians

- Trey Gunn / touch guitar (2,4-6,8,9), co-producer
- Ron Jarzombek / guitar (2,5,8)
- Glenn Snelwar / guitar (3,5,6,8)
- Sean Malone / fretless bass, Chapman Stick (2,3,5-7,9), keyboards (1,2,5), co-producer, mixing
- Sean Reinert / drums & percussion

- John Myung / Chapman Stick (6,9)
- Adam Levy / guitar solo (11)

Releases information

Artwork: Tim Spear

CD Sensory ‎- SR 3005 (1998, US)
CD Avalon ‎- MICY-1084 (1998, Japan) with a bonus track

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

(167 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(36%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (22%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

GORDIAN KNOT Gordian Knot reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Dan Bobrowski
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Imagine two or three Stick or touch style guitarists, one or two standard guitarist, and an inventive powerhouse drummer/percussionist playing head spinning solos or ambient trance meditations with Frippian splashes and the occassional freakazoid guitar breaks. This is it. Trey Gunn (King Crimson), John Myung (Dream Theater) and Sean Malone (Cynic) all play stick or Warr Guitar on this monster release. For the Uninitiated, a stick or Warr guitar are touch styled instruments, played by tapping the strings with fingers of both hands, rather than picking with one hand a fretting with the other. They can have 8, 10, 12 or more strings and have the octave range of a piano. Fascinating.

Gordian Knot is the brain child of Sean Malone. Surely his is a name synonymous with incredible musicianship. Hopefully the Gordian Knot projects will continue and someday hit the stage. Incredible disc with great musicianship. Malone is staking out his place among bassists and touch guitar. Opener Galois and the hidden track Grace, are solo excursions which would benefit any student of the lower end.

Other "guests" on this release are guitar shredders Ron Jarzombek (Spastic Ink) and Glenn Snelwar. Jarzombek puts a little Holdsworth into his style. Super fast but tasteful.

Sean Reinert, the percussionist, is a unique talent. Redemptions Way and Srikara Tal, more ambient tracks, include some wonderful eastern rhythms , with tablas and shakers. These are my favorite tunes on the disc.

This is a great instrumental album. More three and a half stars release, but instrumental music fans should find much to enjoy. I did!

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars When I look at the musicians and the instruments involved (only guitars & drums), I say: "This record is a real exploration of the sound possibilities a guitar can offer". The credits do not mention any keyboards, but it is almost unbelievable, since the presence of an organ-like sound on "Code/Anticode" and "Singularity": it tends to prove that the sound treatment of the guitars is very sophisticated here.

This record is maybe just made of 10% progressive metal: the rest is a rather modern King Crimson-inspired music! One can easily recognize the excellent Ron Jarzombek's guitar sound (Spastic Ink), reminding Joe Satriani, Steve Vaï, Vinnie Moore and even Mike Oldfield.

The music is often very obscure and mysterious, like the very disturbing tracks "Galois", "Komm süsser Tod, komm sel'ge" and "Megrez". Because of the presence of Trey Gunn among others, there are many modern King Crimson's influences here. I prefer this record to the modern King Crimson I know, because it is less brutal and more subtle.

"Grace" is a beautiful, ethereal, mysterious and enigmatic track full of Frippian guitars; note that Robert Fripp should listen it carefully in order to try to improve his own music! The very disturbing "Galois" has the strident "wagons that rub on the rails" sounds, through a very scary atmosphere a la Tangerine Dream circa 1985 (the movie soundtracks). "Redemption's way" and "Megrez" slightly have a Mike Oldfield's influence regarding the sound of the electric guitars, but it still remains quite dark, as it is the case for many tracks. The beginning of "Rivers dancing" has some "Liquid Tension Experiment"'s influences, and its electric guitar solo near the end is ABSOLUTELY IMPRESSIVE! The choked wah-wah part a la Mike Oldfield on "Singularity" is absolutely OUTSTANDING! There are some interesting tribal percussions a la Peter Gabriel on "Srikara Tal" and "Redemption's way".

The tracks that really retained my attention are: "Grace", "Code/Anticode", "Reflections", "Rivers Dancing" and the second part of "Singularity"; the other ones are more experimental although they have many excellent bits, consisting in keyboards-free atmospheric textures.

If only the modern King Crimson were able to sound like on this record.....

Review by AtLossForWords
4 stars Gordian Knot's debut is an exception to the many star projects in prog. Unlike most star projects which come to be collaborations of amazing musicians, Gordian Knot is the vision of bassist/chapman stick/keyboardist Sean Malone. Malone's diversity is something to be hold. Former bassist of the Death Metal band Cynic, Malone dives into the Progressive music scene with Gordian Knot.

The musicality of this album is something to be hold. The lack of vocals is not an issue because this is a very well composed insturmental project. The songs feature variation musicality using tones from different cultures and different genres. The impressive lists of guest musicians include Trey Gunn who does an extraordinary job on his Warr Guitar, and Ron Jarzmobek who once again lets all of us know of his amazing guitar techniques.

Reflections is a great tune at the begining of the album. This track is one of the few controlled compositions by Malone on the album. Megrez is a feature of Trey Gunn on his Warr Guitar making a more ambient use of it's capabilities. Redemption's Way spots the guest apperanece of John Myung on a Chapman Stick. My favorite track is definately Rivers Dancing. This track is the perfect balance of bass, keyboard, and guitar melodies. The track also shifts from technique maina to calm and controlled phrases.

Not often is it that bass/stick players such as Trey Gunn, John Myung, and Sean Malone can all be found on one album. I can give an insturmental album such as this no less than four stars. With a little bit more emotion, there's not telling what the future holds for Sean Malone's Gordian Knot.

Review by Rivertree
4 stars Opening the Gordian Knot ...

Not a typical subgenre album from this project which Sean Malone has initiated. You can enjoy a very good melange of Fusion, KING CRIMSON Art Rock and a little bit Prog Metal. The release is completely instrumental and keyboards are used sparingly, mainly for serving tabla samples and other oriental rhythmic elements. All songs are well composed. The whole album is mature and there is to state a lot of know-how and experience coming together.

Code/Anticode deserves to be the masterpiece of the album. This is a fantastic fusion based song with crazy keyboard patterns and other surprises. Reflections starts more metal and progresses with a brilliant mix of different guitar styles. Megrez is a wonderful relaxed 4-minute-piece dominated only by a stick and three guitars. Regularity works fine as another dynamic fusion track with an oriental inspired slowtempo interlude. Srikara Tal was produced with the support of John Myung - a mystic groover with jam character - top-notch!.

The songs I mentioned are my highlights but as I told before - the whole album is worth to be recommended.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars An instrumental release combining a good mix of ambient, rock, and jazzy moments into what must ultimately be classified as a somewhat mediocre album. The musicianship is passable and at times genuinely interesting, but the mood of "Gordian Knot" is very somber and won't leave much of an impression on the listener. The exciting riffs are lifted directly from Crimson, and the gutless delivery of the heavy moments are to weak to place this into the realm of real metal. Although there isn't anything new here, the classy production and atmosphere might still be worth the purchase for those seeking some fun metalish background music, but don't expect to be taken to school by the player's virtuosity.

Songwriting 3 Instrumental Performances 3 Lyrics/Vocals NA Style/Emotion/Replay 3

Review by 1800iareyay
3 stars Gordian Knot, the supergroup formed by Cynic bass master Sean Malone, features a large gathering of Chapman stick players as well as some gifted guitarists (Glenn Snelwar and Watchtower fret-dancer Ron Jarzombek) and his Cynic mate Sean Reinert behind the kit. Gordian Knot is a metaphor for a problem that is incredibly complex. One listen to the music and you'll determine that's a fitting name for this band. They take a big cue from 80s and 90s Crimson (small wonder, since Trey Gunn's on board), but add an Eastern element to the mix. It almost sounds like some of prog metal's finest got together and fused Discipline with THRAK and then chose to throw in Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti for laughs.

The presence of three Stick players (Malone, Gunn, and DT bass maestro John Myung) ensures this will be a polyrhythmic ride, and Sean Reinert manages to get by all by his lonesome, keeping more beats than one man should. Despite the metal credentials of the members involved, this album only qualifies as metallic in certain passages. However, it is not soft in any way; the dissonant trance of the album is anything but soothing. The band make impossibly complex rhythms and patterns seem simple, and the tasteful aspect of this album is surprising. The only problem is that it fails to excite on the first few listens, and the compositions seem boring until you analyze them and discover how insane they truly are.

Fans of King Crimson will certainly want to try this out. Cynic lovers won't be disappointed either, as Malone and Reinert show that their skill has in no way waned in the years of inactivity. This is by no means essential, but it is one of the handful of prog supergroups that manages to overcome ego and produce cohesive music.

Grade: C+

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars This was just a pleasure to listen to last week. When I saw that Sean Malone and Ron Jarzombek were involved I thought this might be another CYNIC / WATCHTOWER / SPASTIC INK type record which would have been ok with me, but boy was I wrong. I was surprised at how much atmosphere there is on this album, in fact I was reminded of the style of DJAM KARET who contrast Psychedelic music with heaviness, while GORDIAN KNOT contrast atmosphere with heaviness and complexity. Former CYNIC drummer Sean Reinert is also on board along with Trey Gunn and Glen Snelwar. John Myung guests on a couple of tracks playing chapman stick. And that's another interesting point that Malone also plays chapman stick, bass and keys, while Gunn plays his touch warr guitar. It all adds up to some interesting sounding music. It should be stated that this is Sean Malone's project.

"Galois" is a dark, haunting piece played by Malone on his keyboard. Cool song. "Code / Anticode" reminds me of the "Discipline" album by KING CRIMSON the way the guitar is so intricately played as it weaves in and out. Drums and synths join in. It settles down before 2 minutes as keys, touch guitar and drums lead the way. Jarzombek comes in ripping it up. More "Discipline" moments follow. Great full sound 4 1/2 minutes in before it settles down again 5 minutes in. "Reflections" is basically Snelwar and Reinert with Malone on his stick. Nice heavy sound to open that reminds me of latter day RUSH. A calm a minute in. I'm reminded again of "Discipline" with the intricate guitar melodies. The guitar sounds great from Snelwar 3 minutes in. Stick guitar after 4 minutes as the electric guitar makes some great noise in behind. Nice. "Megrez" is mostly Gunn soloing throughout. Very cool sounding tune as Malone's instrumental work makes it sound haunting, dark and melancholic. "Singularity" features the whole band in this heavy tune. Heavy riffs to open as guitar comes in and takes over as the heaviness stops. Nice guitar work ! It stops as heaviness returns. More guitar as the contrast continues. Some nice touch guitar before 3 minutes.

"Redemption's Way" is the first song to have Myung in it. Interesting sounds on this one as Myung and Malone play stick while Gunn plays his touch guitar and Snelwar plays his electric guitar to great effect 2 minutes in. After 3 minutes i'm thinking of "Discipline" again as the guitars weave in and around each other beautifully. "Kom Susser Tod, Komm Sel'ge" is a Bach tune re-arranged by Malone. It's Malone on his stick throughout. "River's Dancing" features Malone on bass in this heavy tune with some amazing lead guitar from Jarzombek while drums pound. It settles down to a sad melody 2 minutes in with some touch guitar. Nice bass before 3 1/2 minutes as the song starts to kick back into high gear with some great guitar this time from Snelwar. Absolutely gorgeous guitar solo from Jarzombek 5 1/2 minutes in that goes on forever. "Srikara Tal" has Myung and Malone on stick, Gunn on touch guitar and Reinert on percussion. This one has some atmosphere and the intensity seems to grow on this hypnotic track. "Grace" feature guitars that build tastefully in this mellow song. The last 3 minutes are emotional as we get waves of sound right to the end. Grace indeed.

I loved this record right from the first listen which is unusual for me, and it's only getting better. 4.5 stars.

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)

Gordian Knot is the self debut title album of Gordian Knot, a mixture of fusion jazz and progressive rock/metal band, in my opinion. The band is led by an extremely talented musician, both in theory and practice, named Sean Malone. In addition to be a successful guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and Chapman Stick player, Mr. Malone is currently teaching music theory at the University of Central Missouri and has authored three books "Music Theory for Bassists" (was widely praised by a number of world leading rock/metal bassists, including Dream Theater's John Myung), "Dictionary Of Bass Grooves", and "A Portrait of Jaco: The Solos Collection". I am particularly impressed with Sean Malone's musical ability as he is the first bassist whom I know attempting to expand Jaco Pastorius' dissonance fusion jazz notes into the metal space. That said, before I am putting forward my 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 Gatot Widayanto (who bought me the album). Jazakumullaah khairan katsira (May Allaah reward all your good deeds).

Gordian Knot is opened by spacey atmospheric keyboard liners, titled Galois (2:05). Here, Sean Malone's distorted electronic keyboards, with humming low frequency notes at the back, roar and attempt to mimic the complicated mind of Évariste Galois (the exceptional French mathematician, who was at his teens discovered the Galois theory, see for further details).

The next track, Code/Anticode (6:44), is a beautiful polyrhythm and polytempo composition written based on jazz chords, but using dissonant intervals to create tension and form the basis for a mixture of fusion jazz and progressive rock/metal. The guitar interplay between Ron Jarzombek (a crossover between Steve Vai's and shred guitar techniques) and King Crimson's Trey Gunn (generating King Crimson's famous Robert Fripp's guitar soundscape or Fripponic sound) is an interesting one. Sean Malone's semiquaver bass notes at the last 20 seconds of the composition are also ear dropping.

Reflections (6:49) is another polyrhythm and polytempo composition painted using a dark fusion jazz color. The song is begun by Sean Malone's crotchet and quaver bass metal liners, followed by Glenn Snelwar's rock guitar riffs. The composition turned into a mellow jazzy note at 0:58 and keeps alternating between dark fusion jazz/light metal ambiance and mellow jazzy note for the rest of the composition. Interesting interludes can be found when Mr. Snelwar puts his legato classic guitar notes (4:02-4:35) and when he and Sean Malone (using Chapman Stick) play combo guitar liners for almost one minute at the end of the song.

The next track, Megrez (4:00), is an experimental composition based on Trey Gunn's touch guitar and Sean Malone's bass, describing how dim Megrez (a star in the constellation Ursa Major) is. Indeed, Megrez is located 81 light years away from the earth.

Singularity (4:43), the fifth track, is one of the two best songs in the Gordian Knot's debut album in my view. Opened up by Sean Malone's harsh staccato semiquaver metal bass notes for 25 seconds, the composition is gradually dominated by a solo jazz rock guitar (performed by Ron Jarzombek), while Sean Malone's bass liners transforms into fusion jazz. Here, Mr. Malone put his musical intelligence and challenges his peers "Who said that metal can't be intermingled with fusion jazz and create a marvel sonata?" The dissonant, but smooth intervals between metal and jazz rock (solo guitars performed alternately by Trey Gunn and Sean Malone) continue for the remaining of the song. You shouldn't also miss Sean Reinert's amazing syncopated drumming between the 3:54"-4:43" interval. What a great composition!

The next track, Redemption's Way (6:58), is written based on jazz chords, but using dissonant interludes to establish a mixture of jazz rock and jazz. A computer generated Indian percussion (in the absence of information in the album sleeve, I speculate the instrument is either tabla or thavil), which is tangibly displayed at all time and adds unique ambiance for the composition, together with solo fusion jazz guitar liners performed by Sean Malone mark the beginning of the song. Then, Mr. Malone keeps changing the ambiance by using the combination of fusion jazz rock and jazzy chords/liners for the remaining of the composition. Perhaps because the strong color of the percussion, I can't clearly hear John Myung's Chapman Stick play in this track.

Komm süsser Tod, komm sel'ge (2:24) is Sean Malone's Chapman Stick interpretation of Johann Sebastian Bach's werke verzeichnis numbers 478 (Komm, suesser Tod, komm, sel'ge Ruh!). In addition to a distinct classical color generated by several independent diatonic melody lines from the Chapman Stick, the composition also has spacey atmospheric ambiance generated by the same instrument.

The eight track, Rivers Dancing (7:35), is one of the two most excellent songs in the album, in my opinion. Opened up by Ron Jarzombek's heavy glissando semiquaver guitar notes and Sean Malone's powerful metal semiquaver bass liners, the composition immediately creates a sense on how wild the water torrent in big rivers is. At 1:37", the tempo slows and an interlude between metal and jazzy tunes takes place. At 3:16", Messrs. Malone, Snelwar, and Reinar insert a somewhat Middle Eastern ambiance into the composition for almost 30 seconds, which is overtaken by Glenn Snelwar's metal demisemiquaver guitar notes. Back into jazzy liners (Trey Gunn's touch guitar is dominant in this interval), the composition was ended by Ron Jarzombek's roaring glissando quaver and semiquaver guitar notes. There is no doubt that the polytempo and polyrhythm sonata is a perfect personification of the river's zigzagging water stream in my ear drum.

Srikara Tal (9:16) is the worst composition in the entire album in my view. Dominated by computer generated tribal drum rhythm, the magical atmospheric sounds produced by Sean Malone's Chapman Stick as well as keyboards, John Myung's Chapman Stick, and Trey Gunn's touch guitar loose its content.

The album is closed by a soothing and relaxing composition, titled Grace (7:34). Started by nice multi-intricate guitar liners, the track has somewhat baroque Bach-like flavor. A delicate ballad played on the Chapman Stick that gradually dissolves into Fripponic soundscape, take the song to where it began.

Lastly, before I completed my review, it is very interesting to note a quote by Glenn Herbert Gould (a Canadian pianist, noted especially for his recordings of the music of J.S. Bach, his remarkable technical proficiency, unorthodox musical philosophy, and was one of eccentric as well as most celebrated pianists of the twentieth century) in the album inner sleeve: "The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenalin but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity. Through the ministrations of radio and the phonograph, we are rapidly and quite properly learning to appreciate the elements of aesthetic narcissism - and I use that word in its best sense - and are awakening to the challenge that each man contemplatively create his own divinity". Indeed, to understand this complicated, but beautiful album you will need to hear it couple of time. You will not get the essence of the album and appreciate how genius Sean Malone is by just hearing on the first run.

I'm looking forward to review Gordian Knot's second album - Emergent - in the near future. Meanwhile, happy listening to Gordian Knot's self debut titled album.

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

Having been satisfied with "Emergent" I chased back the debut album and finally I got it. 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. When I finally got "Emergent" I was blown away by the album and I then wrote a review about it at this site. This debut album released in 1999 also impressed me at first spin. The music is a blend of jazz-rock, metal and King Crimson during Belew era (starting from Discipline album). Having completed enjoying two albums of Gordian Knot I reconfirm the fact that Sean Malone is a great composer.

With big names like Trey Gunn (King Crimson) and John Myung (Dream Theater), this album has secured its position even before I listened to the album yet. There was a risk, actually, by being overwhelmed by big names because if the music is just mediocre it would sound worst due to high expectation. Fortunately, it does not apply here with this album. In fact, what happened to me was: "No wonder the music is excellent because it's played by talented and brilliant musicians."

The album opener "Galois" (2:05) is named after a mathematician and it initially did no impress me due it's just an exploration of keyboards by Sean Malone. But at many spins I can grab the nuance of this opener to set the overall tone of the album. It reminds me to the nuance of King Crimson "Three of A Perfect Pair", ambient-wise. What follows is really an excellent composition "Code / Anticode" (6:44) with guitar-driven melody. Oh no .. it's not actually not something typical guitar solo instrumental as I can get the overall subtleties of this jazz-rock fusion type of music. On this track, Malone plays stick and keys, Reinert on drums, Gunn on touch guitar, and Jarzombek on guitar. I can hear clearly the interlocking guitar solos between Gunn and Jarzobek which makes this track truly wonderful. On bass guitar side, Malone plays the basslines tightly and dynamically. Drumming is also really cool.

"Reflections" (6:49) tones down the tempo and this time is the trio Malone, Reinert and Jarzombek, with Jarzombek is given a task on guitar solo. The guitar acoustic part is good. "Megrez" (4:00) is a slow track with great and tight bass lines in repetitive chords with ambient nuance accompanying guitar work. "Singularity" (4:43) is definitely my favorite as this has a progressive metal elements in jazz-rock mode. The music flows beautifully and energetically featuring great guitar solo and dynamic basslines. The music offers break which reminds me to King Crimson style.

"Redemption's Way" (6:58) is a unique track using tabla as main rhythm section through out the song. Enjoying the tabla combined with powerful basslines is already great. But not only that, as this track provides stunning guitar solo and wonderful textures and soundscapes. There are segments that remind me to King Crimson's "Discipline" album especially on the way guitar is played. "Kom Süsser Tod, Kom Sel'ge" (2:24) is another ambient bridge that, again, reminds me to King Crimson "Three of A Perfect Pair".

"River's Dancing" (7:35) is DEFINITELY A WOW!!! track with powerful and dynamic composition using gamelan Bali pentatonic notes as rhythm section which brings the music in fast tempo. Oh my God ..!!! I cannot believe with how brilliant Sean Malone is in composing this great track. It has all the dynamics as well as uniquness in terms of sounds. The guitar solo as well as the acoustic guitar are all great. The bass guitar work is also powerful. "Sri kare Tal" (9:18) is another ambient track with repetitive rhythm section in ethnical notes layered wonderfully by Myung's stick and howling guitar work. I like this track especially with the subtleties of bass guitar work. The song becomes more attractive when drums finally enter into the music as well. "Grace" (7:34) is nice guitar outfit that concludes the album.

Overall, this debut album of Sean Malone's project is definitely an excellent album with 4.5 stars. The key attraction is not just the composition, but the soundscapes and nuance of the music is excellent as well. Highly recommended.Keep on proggin' ..!

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

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Modern prog fusion supergroup, founded by great Cynic bassist Sean Malone. On this debut album participated Warr guitar genius Trey Gunn (ex-King Crimson), drummer Sean Reinert (Cynic), John Myung (Dream Theater, Chapman Stick-as guest) and two morw Warr/stick guitarists!

So, can you imagine instrumental neo-fusion prog ,played by 3 Warr/stick guitars,bass and drums? No keybords!

Yes, the music is exactly what you imagine: strongly influented by King Crimson complex mix of heavy progressive, some psychedelic moments, few metal sounds, cold and nervous atmosphere of modern world. Songs structure is half fusion,half improvistaion, with some guitar soloing.

Absolutely great debut! Should be interesting for modern KC lovers, must have for Trey Gunn or Sean Malone fans. Very recommended for everyone searching for fresh and modern prog, running out from neo-prog cliches!

Review by aapatsos
4 stars A perfect balance

Gordian Knot must be one of the very few low-profile "all-star" projects. The project-vision of a single man, Sean Malone, that keeps shifting members from one album to live performances and then to another album. A pretty odd situation that has undeniably worked out for him.

Listening to this album for about 10 years now, it does not seem to have missed anything from its initial shine and brilliance. With a line-up about which most of the big rock/metal bands would be jealous, Gordian Knot deliver an inspired album full of musical blends, a range of influences and improvisation. The "Cynic" rhythm section (Malone on bass and keys and Reinert on drums and percussion) is the rock around which the talent of the "guest" members is unveiled. Surprisingly, the Cynic-based extreme moments are very few and mainly fusion music prevails. The contribution of each member to this project is noticeable and especially the a-la King Crimson playing by Trey Gunn and the metal-fusion elements from Watchtower/Spastic Ink leader Ron Jarzombek. Both guitarists make their mark on this release where the blend of the styles produces an intriguing result.

It is interesting to observe the differences between the tracks: the album starts with a space/dreamy intro based on creaky keyboards, and ends with a mellow instrumental track based on relaxing melodic guitar themes. In the mean space, jazz/fusion, experimental metal and sophisticated acoustic passages all take in turns. Code/Anticode and Singularity are fine examples of metal/fusion and borrow some of the brilliance of Spastic Ink while Reflections is directly influenced by the 80s and 90s King Crimson era with the addition of multiple acoustic guitars that dominate the sound. The quiet but obscure atmosphere of Megrez carries the personal stigma of Gunn and should definitely appeal to KC fans.

Redemption's Way and Srikara Tal come as a surprise as they are based solely on tribal, African- and oriental-like rhythms on which the melodic slide guitars (on the former) and the obscure bass lines (on the latter) progressively build. Komm süsser Tod, komm sel'ge is another short relaxing moment, where Malone arranges a J. S. Bach composition to fit the atmosphere of the album before the storm breaks with Rivers Dancing. The track begins in the vein of a Cynic-paced tempo with various soloing guitars improvising, before going on to continuous tempo shifts from speedy to slow and back again, ending with melodic solos. Possibly, this is the most experimental composition of the album.

One of the most balanced experimental albums I have come across, Gordian Knot impresses with its quality of musicianship and blend of influences, from melodic rock to acoustic and then on to jazz/fusion and spacey, obscure passages. It thoroughly deserves 4.5 stars and fans of either jazz/metal/fusion, experimental instrumental rock or King Crimson will probably enjoy it.

Review by Tapfret
5 stars Important metal/fusion gateway

Sub-genre:Experimental/Post Metal (Some metal, but leaning towards eclectic fusion with international flavor) *Reclassified Eclectic Prog in 2020
For Fans of: Canvas Solaris
Vocal Style:None
Guitar Style: Varying styles both acoustic and electric. Metal guitars present on roughly half the album, but not the dominant force.
Keyboard Style:None
Percussion Style:Standard rock kit with the addition of tabla and bells
Bass Style:Primarily come from the low end of Malone's Chapman stick.
Other Instruments:Chapman Stick and Warr guitar
You are not likely to enjoy this album if: you are expecting the metal elements of this album to be as aggressive as that of Malone's work with Cynic

Summary: The landscape of Metal/Fusion would be very different without the creations of Sean Malone. His best known work prior to Gordion Knot was with Cynic and his Jazz/Fusion solo album Cortlandt. Both are highly important in his evolution, Cynic's Focus being equally so within its own Extreme Metal genre. There are those that may claim that what we see with Gordion Knot is more of Malone just providing his own personal resume of styles and a showcase of ability to "play well with others" rather than solid compositional body that facilitated further metamorphosis of the Metal/Fusion landscape. Clearly the latter is the more true of this exclusively instrumental project. This is a body of work that continued metal's push away from convention.
Gordion Knot comes with a Progressive Rock/Metal all-star cast that includes Trey Gunn, Ron Jarzombeck, former Cynic mate Sean Reinert and even a guest appearance from John Myung. Each player brings trademark stylings to the table with Trey Gunn adding some of his mixing/engineering skill. The chefs provide a menu that is both contrasting and balanced. The distorted guitars do not dominate the palette. Percussion is rugged but tasteful. Songs built with a primarily metal motif are tempered with mellow sections that allow for digestion of the complete piece. Several songs are textured with strong eastern influence that includes use of Indian percussion. The songs Redemption's Way and Srikara Tal are highly reminiscent of Shakti, the former being an ensemble of 3 tap style instruments with weaving counterpoint. The albums closer is Malone's coup de grace solo stick piece Grace, which reminds strongly of the solo guitar work of Michael Hedges and his bass counterpart Michael Manring.

Final Score: This is a project that noses right up against perfection but may not be for all. Sometimes contrast is lost in trying not to offend. The metal side in me really wanted to hear the metal grind out a little harder. But the door to opposing styles is thrust open for many that would not otherwise open it. This is more about international fusion with metal than jazz/metal fusion. As the years have passed, this album has solidified its place as one of the most important albums in my collection.

Latest members reviews

3 stars With a great combination of musicians, starting with Trey the Great Gunn, this ensemble known as the Gordian Knot have created a wonderful instrumental album, obviously remarking the extraordinary way of playing the warr guitar, stick and chapman stick by three incredible bass players: Trey Gu ... (read more)

Report this review (#1031729) | Posted by Memo_anathemo | Tuesday, September 10, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Seldom is the solo project that delivers such a praise-worthy, enjoyable and respectful ensemble of fine composition. This one stems from the unnoticed mind of Sean Malone, bassist for Cynic. Indeed Cynic itself is a powerful group, whose reputation would easily top Gordian Knot, however, I've fo ... (read more)

Report this review (#489682) | Posted by Aspiring hope | Sunday, July 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 4.5 stars really Experimental Post Jazz Rock Metal Fusion or something like that! How about just excellent instrumental music. This band doesn't really sound like Tool or any other Post Metal band that I have heard. They actually really don't sound like any other band I have heard at all ... (read more)

Report this review (#182725) | Posted by digdug | Wednesday, September 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of the best instrumental albums I've ever heard. The collective of musicians here (guys from Cynic and Crimson) have really created a masterful album with this one. The music is complex but catchy, and the soloing is great. There is also an exotic influence, which is understandable judging on ... (read more)

Report this review (#152441) | Posted by King Crimson776 | Friday, November 23, 2007 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Lets start this review with positive arguments. This is good music, mostly. The other review praise this much. I wouldn't so much. There is actually nothing special in this. Maby if you are a rock oriented listener this might be even awsome but actually there is nothing new here. They say that th ... (read more)

Report this review (#102319) | Posted by pirkka | Sunday, December 10, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars What do you get when drummer Sean Reint (Cynic), guitarist Ron Jarzombek (Spastic Ink and Watchtower), guitarist Glenn Snelwar, King Crimson's Trey Gunn (Warr guitar) are put under the leadership of Sean Malone (Focus period of Cynic) and have John Myung as a guest? What would someone expect w ... (read more)

Report this review (#101038) | Posted by sularetal | Wednesday, November 29, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Without a doubt of those works which it is possible to be said that they are complete, so that it very has varied sounds and rich adorned, to a certain extent is a delight of sounds as a salad with sufficient elements nothing forgets in this work, without a doubt what the names of the people t ... (read more)

Report this review (#88656) | Posted by Shelket | Friday, September 1, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Gordian Knot is an instrumental musical project featuring some very talented musicians. If you like instrumental albums like both Liquid Tension albums- then you should probably pick this album up. Sean Malone, who has been involved in some heavier musical projects plays bass here- and very w ... (read more)

Report this review (#83571) | Posted by Drew | Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Sean Malone is one of most diverse bassist I know. He could be easily the second Jaco Pastorius, but for some amount of time he was associate with death-metal scene because of his contribution in bands like _Cynic_. _Gordian Knot_ was started so that Sean could flex his playing on bass guitar ... (read more)

Report this review (#17767) | Posted by | Monday, July 26, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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