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SONNAR

Nodo Gordiano

Rock Progressivo Italiano


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Nodo Gordiano Sonnar album cover
4.07 | 53 ratings | 10 reviews | 47% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2020

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Only Fool! Only Poet! (9:06)
2. Limbic Rendez-Vous (6:57)
3. Charun (3:51)
4. After Dusk (20:47) :
- a) Promenade
- b) Debut
- c) Hey, Mr. Professor!
- d) Sgalambro's Ghost
- e) Pometine
- f) Pale Gallery
- g) Transhipment
- h) Nightdrive
5. Vanth (5:30)
6. Sonnar (8:23)

Total Time 54:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Filippo Brilli / winds, saxophone
- Andrea De Luca / guitar, bass, keyboards (1,2,4,6)
- Davide Guidoni / percussion, keyboards (3,5)
- Natalia Suvorina / vocals

Releases information

Label: Lizard (cd0168)
Format: CD, Digital
November 30, 2020

Thanks to Davels666 for the addition
and to silly puppy for the last updates
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NODO GORDIANO Sonnar ratings distribution


4.07
(53 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(47%)
47%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
38%
Good, but non-essential (13%)
13%
Collectors/fans only (2%)
2%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

NODO GORDIANO Sonnar reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Gordian Knot remains defiantly untied and defiant as ever! My Italian pals Nodo Gordiano are back after a long six-year lull, Andrea de Luca still running the show with some new changes, as drummer Carlo Fattorini and guitarist Fabrizio Santoro are both gone. The mid-period King Crimson mood and style is still alive and well, thank you. Andrea handles his usual booming bass as well as guitar and keyboard duties, winds player Filippo Brilli is 'brilli-ant" as he does a fabulous Mel Collins-like performance throughout. But here comes the kicker, the drum stool is handled now by one of the finest drum/percussion masters on the Italian peninsula and beyond: Davide Guidoni. For those of you unfamiliar with this powerful Roman beat guru, here is a short list of his prog achievements: Pensiero Nomade, Taproban, Gallant Farm, Alberto Rigoni, The Far Side, Claudio Milano, Doracor, Nuova Era, Ozone Player, as well as his main gig with Daal and his B-Rain project. Suffice only to state that he is up there, not far from the Bruford/Peart/Bozzio/Colaiuta realm. The man is a beast as well as a super nice guy. There is little doubt that this new album will reach new levels of 'sons and fascinations' (to paraphrase Simple Minds' French words). While Nodo started out in 1994 as a KC and Genesis cover band, the 2009 "Flektogon" album really blew me away, and I have been a fan ever since. The 2014 release of "Nous" was an even higher step in the evolution of the band. This new album has all the hallmarks of continuing the tradition of complex, brooding, contrasting shimmers of familiar and often unfamiliar sounds.

The opening track serves to set the sonic table, featuring layered keyboard carpets propelled by that deft percussive touch, slashes of guitar reverberations, full of melodic dissonance and ominous feel. The female vocals of Natalia Suvorina take some getting used to, not really my style of tone (more a voice than vocals, if you see/hear what I mean) but they are there for a reason. A blistering 7-minute ride, "Limbic Rendez-vous" shifts into another gear altogether, revving up the engine, a platform for some ravaging sax work from Brilli, bruising bass and a drum barrage for the ages. Its raw, yet melodic, jumpy but structured. Hard jazz-prog with superlative control and dynamics. Midway through, the sequencer synths lead the brief witch like vocals, as the fuzzed bass carves some nasty lead grooves, more like prime Hopper or Babbington. Delirium ensues, sounding almost like classic Gong, with the Malherbe-like sax sprouting chaotic fantasy. The short "Charun" serves as a set-up for the massive 20-minute epic "After Dusk", a foreboding clock of dread, loaded with a flurry of metallic percussion that would make BB proud, as if some creeping monster was surging out from the Amazon jungle. The added mellotron bursts only add to the suspense. Here is the core piece as introduced earlier, a gigantic epic of colossal width and length, a crosscurrent of everything you can think of as progressive, from one end of the spectrum to the other extreme, all set up as individual vignettes. When the rash guitars kick in, shouldered by the clinical tik-tok of the drums, the energy level raises itself to insistent levels. This materializes into quite the hurricane, not unlike KC, s classic and my all-time favourite "Sailor's Tale", with various mood changes, alternate dimensions and surprising dynamics. When Natalia whispers, it comes off as a clever foil, especially when Andrea shows up on his slashing electric guitar, doing a most admirable job, all the while keeping the bossy bass low end furiously in place. The man with the strings. Two more pieces finish off the recording, "Vanth" choosing to explore a more modern groove, whistling synth front and centre, coddled by the menacing mechanical drum patterns (not a drum machine but a human machine) and large swaths of mellotron. An incessant and obsessive slice of genius, with an overt Brufordian guidance, this is quite the show, perhaps even more Crimson than the King itself. A grandiose finale is in order, the tittle track takes no prisoners, germinating from a gentle e-piano lilt that allies itself with a sonorous guitar phrasing, sounding like a jam version cousin of Zep's "No Quarter", as it evolves into a more concise arrangement, Davide operating like an octopus gone wild, all culminating into a breezy outro, where the e- piano waves a lovely and poignant arriverderci.

A tremendous piece of work that should find favour with the Frippian hordes, or anyone else who enjoys great drumming, fabulous bass, powerful guitar and exhilarating sax work. With this effort, the band has risen to even higher levels of style and maturity, offering a more psychological work, laden with detail as they keep getting better and better at their craft.

4.5 Roman cameras

Review by Matti
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Sonnar is the fifth album by NODO GORDIANO, but the first one that I listen to. The band from Rome already has a long history with several changes in the line-up. Here the creative unit is formed by Andrea De Luca (stringed instruments and keyboards) and Davide Guidoni, probably best known from Daal, who plays percussives and keyboards. On board are also Filippo Brilli on wind instruments and Natalia Suvorina as a vocalist.

I might as well start by saying that the music screams King Crimson. Not the early era (except '21st Century Schizoid Man' perhaps) but the more experimental and edgier output. The rhythms are very complex, the atmosphere is often quite sinister and there's a certain "free jazz + avant + metal" spirit reminiscent of what's heard in Crimso's music, and what could be called Crimsonesque. The female voice on this hard boiled album isn't any softening feature either. Mostly the music is instrumental, and hardly ever song oriented per se.

The 9-minute opener 'Only Fool! Only Poet!' starts promisingly with a creepy atmosphere but the vocal parts sound mostly too cold and monotonous to make the piece significantly better than it would have been as an instrumental. The second track has an intense sound full of saxophone a la King Crimson or VdGG. There are some moments with brief backround vocals to underline the schizoid frenzy. 'Charun' is a deeply sinister, nightmarish instrumental with interesting percussion.

'After Dusk' is a 20-minute epic containing eight movements, according to the leaflet. After the free- jazzy intro ('Promenade') comes a vivid portrait of a "21st century schizoid girl", one of the coolest and grooviest moments of the album. Unfortunately the epic has very little for me to enjoy. The Crimsonesque intensity is way too constant without much space to take a breath. Also the calmer and slower sections maintain the dark and hostile atmosphere, and the fresh melodies are absent. Sorry, not my cup of tea. Too bad I don't even like the vocals, as you may have guessed at this point.

'Vanth' is a dark-toned instrumental with a psychedelic feel. My favourite is the title track in the end: it has fascinating, esoteric moments of spaceyness, and the vocal parts add a needed, more or less song oriented element to what is basically another instrumental.

Two stars might be closer to my subjective level of enjoyment, but I add one star and recommend this album for those progsters that appreciate the avant flavour and Crimsonesque hard edge.

Review by andrea
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Sonnar" is the fifth studio album by Roman band Nodo Gordiano and was released in 2020 on the independent label Lizard Records with a renewed line up featuring, along with founder member Andrea De Luca (strings, keyboards), the fresh energies of Filippo Brilli (winds), Davide Guidoni (percussion, keyboards) and Natalia Suvorina (vocals). According to the band, this album is dedicated to the inspiring works by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and was conceived "as a hypnagogic journey... divided into three parts revolving around the experience of the Other, separated from each other by demons who, as in the tomb of the Anina, guard the mystery of the Outside, and ends with the verses of the Vedic hymn to Surya, a memory of the solar symbolism that, even in darkness, pervades it". The overall sound is dark, challenging and every now and again it could recall King Crimson with a pinch of Oriental flavour, as you can guess looking at the evocative artwork by Davide Guidoni...

The opener "Only Fool! Only Poet!" features lyrics adapted from Friedrich Nietzsche's "The Song Of Melancholy" (In "Thus Spoke Zarathustra") and starts softly... The pace is slow, the almost mystical atmosphere takes you to a desert land where in a cave there's a sorcerer who is singing. To escape from the blinding light and the glowing glances of the sun you dive like an eagle into a dark inner abyss as the echoes of the music soar towards the sky trying to reach the dark side of the moon... The following "Limbic Rendez-Vous" is an instrumental track (vocals here are used just as in instrument to add a touch of colour) drawing you into an emotional labyrinth where memories get lost like a lizard in the middle of a battle of glass tears...

Next comes "Charun", a disquieting instrumental track where percussions take the lead conjuring up obscure tribal rites. The title refers to Etruscan mythology where Charun is one of the psychopomps of the underworld, a demon whose responsibility is to guide newly deceased souls from Earth to the afterlife...

The long, complex suite "After Dusk" (20:47) is divided into eight parts: a) Promenade; b) Debut; c) Hey, Mr. Professor!; d) Sgalambro's Ghost; e) Pometine; f) Pale Gallery; g) Transhipment; h) Nightdrive. This piece, featuring nightmarish atmospheres and hermetic lyrics, if I'm not wrong, is freely based upon "Toby Dammit", an episode from the horror anthology film "Spirits Of The Dead", directed in 1968 by Federico Fellini and staging a personal, modern version of a short story by Edgar Allan Poe entitled "Never Bet The Devil Your Head". The music and lyrics evoke an eerie 21st century schizoid girl, a man haunted by painful memories and ghosts, silent shadows moving around at night and a desperate race with the devil on the edge of madness...

The title of the following "Vanth" refers to a chthonic winged figure in Etruscan mythology, a female demon that is often accompanied by Charun. It's a nice instrumental piece full of tension and mystery leading to the final title track. "Sonnar" features lyrics freely taken from a Vedic hymn to the god of sun and begins softly. The mood is dreamy, then the rhythm rises while an invocation emerges from the darkness like a revenant fount from the past as flames of fire burn and blaze and places, faces and stories melt into the light...

On the whole, a very good work, even if it might need many spins to be fully appreciated.

Review by Rivertree
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR PSIKE Team & Band Submissions
4 stars uno spettacolo, vero e proprio! I suspect NODO GORDIANO (Gordian Knot) is the child of multi-instrumentalist Andrea De Luca. When searching through the band history, which started sometime in the mid 1990's, he seems to be the sole constant. Focused on developing experimental rock music, partially close to the likes of some Rock Progressivo Italiano giants, and King Crimson as well. After Dusk for examples features some clear references. This compact disc is distributed by Lizard Records and comes with a fine packaging. Designed by drummer Davide Guidoni aka Dave Daal, quite new to the crew. He's obsessively, eh okay, let's say at least extensively using the cymbals, this needs getting used to. Whatever, Davide moreover manages some keyboard work too. All in all that's an impressive entry to the band, I would say.

'Mere fool! Mere poet!', the album's kick-of turns out to be a reference to Friedrich Nietzsche. This melancholic track shows Natalia Suvorina on the vocals for the first time. It's a fine accessible mid-tempo track, decorated with psychedelic tinged reverb guitar. Eh, so much for the first minutes though. The somewhat untamed behaviour vanishes over the course, making way for variation in tempo and mood. And that's the preview for the following flow in general. The label 'experimental' definitely fits, not only because they dare to add backward vocals for examples. Widen the boundaries is the motto here. The aforementioned extended After Dusk suite proves this as no other.

The lovely title track finishes this album, closes a melancholic circle. I'm impressed, so much different layers and impressions, takes time to capture everything. Some DAAL influence is unmistakable, but it's a rather unique affair for sure. Accessible melodic and avantgarde styled moments are alternating, jazzy elements here and there, the band Herd Of Instinct is similar in approach, I'd say. Regarding this production NODO GORDIANO won't make friends with every progressive rock fan, moreover surely though with those who are underway on eclectic and avantgarde paths most likely.

Review by 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.

Review by nick_h_nz
COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
4 stars [Originally published at The Progressive Aspect]

For much of Italian band Nodo Gordiano's existence, Andrea de Luca has been the only constant, and after a six year absence, he is back again with a new line-up, and a new album ? Sonnar. Of the three Nodo Gordiano albums I am familiar with (having not heard the first two), this is almost certainly my favourite (I am refraining from claiming it my favourite outright as it is still very recent in my affections, and there is always a chance that as the novelty wears off, I may change my mind. At this point, though, that seems doubtful).

Nodo Gordiano play an eclectic symphonic style of music that is possibly most closely compared to King Crimson in terms of experimentation and intent, if not exactly in sound. And if we are keeping with the Krimson comparisons, then the new man on the drummer's stool is Italy's answer to Bill Bruford. Davide Guidoni is an absolutely fantastic percussionist and drummer, and one of the best you've probably never heard of. For me, as much as I already loved the previous albums, Guidoni's presence raises Sonnar to a whole new level ? and is one of the main reasons that I believe the album will maintain its prime position as my favourite album from the band. As much as Andrea de Luca provides swathes and slashes of keyboard and guitar, Guidoni is ever present in the mix (not overbearingly so, I should add).

But while Guidoni is present in opening number, Only Fool! Only Poet!, it is perhaps his most understated performance on the album. This is a gentle introduction, where the two most important features are probably the bass (again, de Luca) which underpins the composition and the vocals of Natalia Suvorina which drift over the top. Suvorina's vocals almost sound out of place, but not at all in a bad way. Rather, in a sort of otherworldly fashion. They remind me, for instance, of the vocals of Natasha Vaichuk on Pathfinder, by Japanese band Early Cross. It's a sort of alien tone and presence that takes time to adjust to ? or, at least, it did in my case. I won't say there was ever a time I didn't like the vocals, but it took me some listenings before I became used to them. In a way, as much as I love this song, it's a bit of a false start, as there are only hints (mostly from Guidoni) of the sonic bombast Nodo Gordiano are capable of creating. It's neither the beauty of Exiles nor the beast of Larks' Tongues in Aspic, but caught somewhere in between.

For me, as much as I do very much like Only Fool! Only Poet! (and would never dream of skipping it), the album truly begins with Limbic Rendez-Vous, which starts with a clatter and a squawk from Guidoni and Filippo Brilli. And did I say Suvorina sounded alien in the opening number? But I'll tell you what ? I absolutely love the vocals (if I can even call them that) on this track. Limbic Rendez- Vous is an absolutely fabulous track which has all the Marmite qualities of any great track. You'll either love it, or you'll hate it. It's brilliant and it's bonkers, or maybe it's brilliant because it's bonkers. The music pounds the listener with barrage after barrage of pummelling drums, and beating after beating of bruising bass. And Brilli's chaotic saxophone attacks over the top are sublime. After that workout we need a respite, and Charun provides that to a degree. It's quieter, but no less unsettling. The percussion is superb. Unfortunately for me, since I enjoy it so much, Charun is way too short.

This is not something I could complain about for the following After Dusk, the album's epic at almost twenty-one minutes. Again, I love the vocals here. It seems it was only the opening number where Suvorina sounded out of place ? but perhaps it is because her voice is used almost more as another instrumental layer in Limbic Rendez-Vous and After Dusk, and is not always so prominent in the mix. Her contributions are absolutely essential to this composition though, and provide some of the most entertaining moments. There is a lot going on in After Dark's eight movements, but nothing is ever lost or even misplaced, as the band use space and dynamics well, so that no part ever becomes overbearing. There are as many moments of great restraint as there are of great intensity. Perhaps most surprisingly is how upbeat and optimistic the song can be at times, given that the time after dark is most often depicted as ominous and threatening. But while those attributes are present, they are tempered by the more positive moments, making this a remarkably balanced listen. Every member of the band has time to shine, and for their contributions to be brought to the forefront. It's hard not to think this song will be the main attraction for most listeners.

After Dusk is followed by Vanth, which I guess, along with Charun, provide a pair of aural bookends, both being shorter instrumental numbers. Vanth is very different in sound from Charun, though. In my mind, both seem to generate the idea of a malevolent shadowy figure trailing behind me, just out sight. That which cannot be seen, but which can be felt, somehow scarier than what can actually be seen. Nothing is scarier than imagination. However, while the evil felt real in Charun, Vanth portrays a more cartoonish vision. It's a Scooby-Doo villain, rather than anything darker of more hostile, and the music is appropriately Mystery Machine psychedelic. But that's not to say it's no good. In fact, I really like the way that (even if only in my own mind) Charun presents the spectre of something wicked this way coming, but After Dusk, it's unmasked to be nothing so sinister after all.

The album concludes with the title track, and it's another highlight in an album full of highlights. The delicate introduction belies the power and passion that Sonnar contains. Surovina returns to full on singing mode, and like Only Fool! Only Poet!, that alien tone that is a little unsettling, but just works. If, like me, you are unsure of how you feel about Surovina's vocals on the opening and closing tracks, all I can recommend is to keep listening. I think they are fabulous, and would not be so effective if they fitted more conventionally with the sound of the music. Between her vocals, Brilli's stunning sax, de Luca running all over the place on bass, guitar and keys, and the powerhouse of Guidoni on the stool, Nodo Gordiano have what seems to me to be their best line-up yet, and have what seems to me to be their best album yet. I sincerely hope that not only does de Luca retain this line-up, but that they manage to follow up this album with another ? and hopefully one that we don't have to wait quite so long for.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
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!

Review by VianaProghead
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Review N 428

As happened with some other bands, I was contacted by Nodo Gordiano to review their last album, "Sonnar". But, when I was contacted by the band I was a bit busy at the moment, preparing some other reviews planned before. So, it's only now that it's possible for me, to check and review the album. Thus, here they are my public apologies to this band.

The Nodo Gordiano project was born at the beginning of 1994 from the meeting between Andrea De Luca, Alessandro Papotto and Tony Zito. Initially, Nodo Gordiano was a band specialised in King Crimson and Genesis cover songs. They began to get noticed in the Roman private radio environment and in the main live events. In 1997 the group composed and recorded for promotional purposes the material that would become the first studio album of the same name, released in 1999 and accompanied live John Wetton, performing covers of King Crimson. In the following year, having transformed the band into a sextet, Nodo Gordiano collaborated with Banco Del Mutuo Soccorso, appeared on national television networks on the occasion of Banco's 30th anniversary and participated in different festivals in several places.

Nodo Gordiano is a true progressive rock band in both adjective and literal sense. There's not a single moment of pop approach in their music. They do have a quite eclectic approach in their music, but their variety of eclecticism is one geared towards being approachable and fairly compelling. The best reference I can compare them is with King Crimson. But this isn't strange due to the past of the band. Dark and heavy moods combined with few symphonic passages. The music is rather dark and essentially instrumental. As the band members' state, they like to explore improvised and experimental several styles of rock music. But, Nodo Gordiano turns out to be more than a King Crimson clone. Just listen to the vocal work and you can get the picture. Anyway, vocals are generally in Italian, but are kept to a minimum.

So, "Sonnar" is the fifth studio album of Nodo Gordiano and was released in 2020. The line up on the album is Natalia Suvorina (vocals), Andrea De Luca (guitar, keyboards and bass), Filippo Brilli (winds and saxophone) and Davide Guidoni (keyboards and percussion). Andrea De Luca and Davide Guidoni are the only composers of the album.

According to the band, "Sonnar" is dedicated to the works by the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. The theme is mystical, mysterious and melancholic. The overall sound is dark, challenging and again it can recall King Crimson with a touch of an Oriental flavour. Andrea De Luca is the master builder, but he is brilliantly surrounded. This time the vocals are in English and not in Italian. The deep and melancholic female voice contributions apply to the mood of the album. The style is closer to the psychedelic jazz than the usual rock progressivo Italiano. The addition of a saxophone is sublime and recalls me strongly Van Der Graaf Generator in its way of creating heavy and threatening atmospheres.

About the individual tracks, "Only Fool! Only Poet!" features lyrics adapted from Nietzsche. It has all the ingredients of what is to follow, elaborate drums and percussions, sustained bass, melodic guitars and warm vocals. This is a nice opener. In "Limbic Rendez-Vous" the atmosphere changes due to the introduction of the saxophone. It's a piece with complex structures and rhythm patterns supported by the beautiful but at the same time weird voice of Natalia. This is a more experimental piece. But with "Charun" it even becomes weirder. It's a disquieting instrumental where percussions take the lead conjuring up obscure tribal rites. The amazing percussion work and the heavy keyboard work on the piece makes me think in Swedish Anekdoten. This is another fascinating piece. "After Dusk" is divided into "Promenade", "Debut", "Hey, Mr. Professor!", "Sgalambro's Ghost", "Pometine", "Pale Gallery", "Transhipment" and "Nightdrive". This is the opus magnum of the album, a long and very complex suite. It has countless rhythm changes, sometimes frenzied, some impressive saxophone and drum parts the brass abounds and guitars reverberate majestically. This is a spectacular track that deserves your close attention, one of the highlights of the album. "Vanth" is a very simple piece with crescendo and decrescendo guitar arpeggios and a trembling Mellotron work. It's a nice instrumental piece full of tension and mystery that leads to the final title track. "Sonnar" closes the album smoothly with electric piano chords and a first ethereal guitar then more muscular and finally a long sung passage and a tremolo guitar which recapitulates a little the beautiful journey that we just did. It has great emotive vocals from Natalia, with a sense of the 70's prog rock.

Conclusion: I'm not very comfortable to talk about the music of Nodo Gordiano, once this is my first contact with their music. However, I really liked very much of the album and I really think they are treading the right path. "Sonnar" may not be considered a masterpiece, but from what I read before, this is probably their best work till now. So, Nodo Gordiano surprised me with "Sonnar", an album made with great passion and ability. This is a musical journey between the meditation on the individual values and the transfiguration of the reality. As a whole, this is a very good work, despite it might need many spins to be fully appreciated. It's a solid intriguing realease that deserves to be explored.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

5 stars NODO GORDIANO is an Italian group active for at least 25 years. their proposal is a cross of various colors, from the complex sounds of the Cremisi prog, to the instrumental experimentation of GYBE and Djam Karet, some flash of German cosmicity, and of course some good Italian rock. "Only Fool! Onl ... (read more)

Report this review (#2497167) | Posted by Staartvandehond | Tuesday, January 26, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The return of Nodo Gordiano takes place after 6 years, currently the group is a duo composed of bassist and founder Andrea De Luca and drummer Davide Guidoni (Daal), with the precious help of guests Natalia Suvorina on vocals and saxophonist Filippo Brilli. This fifth work of theirs is in some ways ... (read more)

Report this review (#2483726) | Posted by Aenima-x | Wednesday, December 9, 2020 | Review Permanlink

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