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NODO GORDIANO

Rock Progressivo Italiano • Italy


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Nodo Gordiano biography
Founded in Rome, Italy in 1994

NODO GORDIANO project begins its run in 1994 after the meeting between Andrea De Luca (bass, vocals), Alessandro Papotto (wind instruments, vocals) and Tony Zito (drums). The first line up was completed with the arrivals of Roberto Proietto (guitars) and Fabio D'Andrea (keyboards). The band, during 1995 and 1996, plays basically GENESIS and KING CRIMSON covers and Radio Rock, with other private networks, promote live gigs in important live exhibitions in Rome.

In 1997, after the keyboardist departure, the quartet creates and records for promotional purposes the music that would be in the first omonimous studio album, produced by Lizard Label the following year, and gigs with John Wetton playing KING CRIMSON covers. In 1998 the band collaborates with BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO (playing also live with Francesco Di Giacomo and Rodolfo Maltese), appears on national networks, plays live extensively and exhibits in several Alternative Rock Festivals.

In 1999, a few months after official first out, Alessandro Papotto and Tony Zito leave the project to engage themselves in other musical projects. Andrea De Luca, after Roberto Proietto defection, continues in NODO GORDIANO musicians search and collects new ideas for the next band incarnation.

In 2002 the new thing appears. Andrea meets the drummer Carlo Fattorini (Der Blaue Reiter, Magog) and Fabrizio Santoro (guitars, also with Magog e Oak). Now the band plays as a trio, open, like in NODO GORDIANO best tradition, towards any form of musical adventure. Among other collaborations, during the first 10 years, the names of Antonello De Zelis, Roberto Gavazzi, Giordano Rossini, Max G.B. Tommasi and Alberto D'Annibale have to be mentioned for their contributions. A direct recording of KING CRIMSON's Lament (with Andrea Amici, Leviathan, playing keyboards) has been chosen in 2003 in order to appear in the 3CD box The Letters, devoted to KING CRIMSON fans. The boys collect audio materials for the studio album, Flektogon, but before arriving at the final cut NODO GORDIANO unexpectedly runs into Alea.

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NODO GORDIANO discography


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NODO GORDIANO top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.81 | 15 ratings
Nodo Gordiano
1999
2.61 | 19 ratings
Alea
2005
3.85 | 69 ratings
Flektogon
2009
4.01 | 121 ratings
Nous
2014
4.04 | 67 ratings
Sonnar
2020
4.26 | 41 ratings
H.E.X.
2021

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NODO GORDIANO Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 H.E.X. by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.26 | 41 ratings

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H.E.X.
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Staartvandehond

4 stars The crew for the Nodo Gordiano has been renewed once again, with the entry of Davide Guidoni from Daal (Drums, percussion and keyboards) who joins the veteran Andrea De Luca (vocals, bass, acoustic and electric guitar, synthesizers e saz) and by Filippo Brilli (Sax) H.E.X. it includes all the musical experiences that over the years have allowed the Roman group to produce, in over 30 years of career, six works (including the present one) very different from each other. We therefore find the solid Crimsonian foundations of the beginnings, as well as the many derivations with an experimental flavor collected in subsequent works that now represent a further starting point for new shores. The sensations that arise from listening to this album are many and surprising, precisely because the elements involved are so many and the structure of the two suites "Heng" and "Kou" is anything but predictable. It almost seems to sail at times from the parts of certain cosmic couriers, only to end up in the most consonant and reassuring waters of the crimson king.

H.E.X. is a compendium of elements that make it grandiloquent: orchestral symphonic colours, psychedelic smokes, electronic and ambient elements, ethnic colors, some touch of dark, Floydian landscapes and sounds that are sometimes square and robust and at other times still delicate and melancholy, all also set within a single track.

So here is "Heng", still the highest expression that the group has ever conceived, futurist and electronic, with its dark and enveloping synths and with its long Crimsonian shadows. 26 minutes of chasing electric sequences and majestic, seasoned with a nervous Jacksonian sax, which makes the song even more eclectic and with a thousand facets ... now meditative, now energetic, now incredibly slow, tense and icy and still intensely romantic at the end, with the synths of De Luca in the background that draw dreamy landscapes.

Equally disturbing and iridescent "Kou" which opens with the reassuring sound of chimes, and then leaves room for a first meditative, ethnic part, with Mellotrons in the distance that draw disturbing clouds that creep between the acoustic guitar chords. soon the sounds are strengthened and give life to angular and jagged musical structures thanks to the interaction between the electric guitar and the drums and the Sax. The second part of this immense suite is perhaps the most attributable to the classic styles of progressive, with the Crimson King in the foreground, however, has always been one of the reference points of this band.

H.E.X. Perhaps more than in the past it has an experimental face but at the same time "reassuring", leaving little space for form and much for substance.

The album, as you may have understood, is a work of high value, made up of continuous fluctuations, always in search of something elusive like a kind of labyrinth full of symbols, abstractionism and dejā-vu. I was very happy to get lost in the maze of this record.

 H.E.X. by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.26 | 41 ratings

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H.E.X.
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Aenima-x

5 stars H.E.X. (Lizard, 2021) marks an even more radical departure from the clich's of the group's music, totally renouncing the use of the voice as in the previous Sonnar, and showing a spiritual and inner tone very rare in today's music.

Inspired by the timeless contents of the Book of Changes, the work, entirely instrumental, consists of two suites by Andrea De Luca and Davide Guidoni, assisted by the eclectic saxes of Filippo Brilli.

The first suite, "Heng", a sonorous story of hexagram 32, describes the concept of duration through the widespread use of arpeggiators, in order to decompose the vertical harmonic structures into sequences of individual events, the presence of numerous sections in polyrhythm and the appearance of natural flow backgrounds (water and wind), so as to depict the complexity and synchronicity of existential dynamics, suspended between duration, fragment, contrast and simultaneity.

The second suite, "Kou", expression of hexagram 44, reproduces the experience of encounter and relationship in its various moments, from the remote and unconscious approaching, to communication and contact, recreating the flow of connected emotional and vital energies to the experience of the other. In the second part it opens up to the dimension of the temporal perspective and panic illusion, characterized by transport into a dreamlike and forgetful collective universe, in which, in the end, the individual experience is shattered and reabsorbed.

Both are a masterpiece of atmospheric and mysterious spiritualism !!

We start with the spectral electronics of HENG (**** /) which simulates ethereal and timeless landscapes. The sense of mystery is not used to generate fear in the listener, but, on the contrary, to encourage a communion with the forces of the infinite and the eternal. Electronic instruments embrace a form of spiritual and solemn, but rather interior music. than external, which is introspective rather than spectacular. The sound is sometimes inert and sometimes infinite: there are no usual melodic references, the mood is dramatic and infinite.

It is surprising that it is a three-person line-up: The deus Ex-Machina Andrea De Luca (bass, guitars, synthesizers), is accompanied once again by Filippo Brilli (Sax) Davide Guidoni (drums, Percussions), and together they embroider a dense emotional carpet at times galactic, soaring high up to touch the clouds.

KOU (*****) distorts even more the stylistic coordinates of the group: The intro proceeds slowly, to the millennial rhythms of the cosmos, in a disturbing sense of emptiness. The music of the group explores metaphysical caverns, reaching out towards the essence of things, in search of the inner sound of which the oriental gurus say. the listener is anxiously awaiting a divine response for the first few minutes of the suite, which punctually arrives with a riot of Crimsonian Saxes from Poseidonian memory. The frantic noises of the percussion get louder and louder still, but they are only a passage towards the end of the record, a cosmic turmoil, a spiritual orgasm that slowly fades ...

... at the end the quiet has been restored ...

H.E.X. it's a journey into the super-human world. With this work, Nodo Gordiano try to condense and push to extremes the stylistic and expressive characteristics of the previous five albums, proposing a work that opens up new perspectives in the future creative activity. In my personal 2021 top five!

 H.E.X. by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.26 | 41 ratings

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H.E.X.
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Avant/Cross/Neo/Post Teams

4 stars What an authentic heavy jazzy tighty creation massively flavoured with mid-70s King Crimson essence but little texture of orthodox native Italian progressive vibes, it's kind of a common opinion by a progressive rock fan though. "H.E.X." was released in the last month of 2021 as the sixth full-length album by an Italian virtuoso combo NODO GORDIANO. I'm very glad that I can have such a fascinating album this yearend, and additionally that the frontman of NG Andrea has notified me of this release (thanks Andrea!). Mixed feelings can be seen even deeply in the sleeve pic, which remind us of such tough circumstances all over the world, especially for lots of artists. However, this opus filled with their strong intention to beat the current situation out and to produce 'ultimate' artistic explanation also makes us happy. It's another moment for us to be on the same ground with them.

This album consists of two long (26 minute) suites. The first shot "Heng" gets started with a brilliant scene of sound in the similar vein to Close To The Edge, that express us their energetic potentiality saturated with progressive rock pioneer colours. The following powerful heavy metallic sound appearances would be solidified by their 'British' progressive roots like Genesis or King Crimson. Anyway let me say we cannot easily grab any 'native' 'unsophisticated' Italian flavour but can slightly feel some touch of Italian jazz rock vanguard like New Trolls or Area, although I don't know if they have got into such an Italian jazz rock scene. Crazy deep tight rock representations (leaning towards the masterpiece Red) on the latter phase stimulate our inner heart drastically but the last dark ambience like Roger Waters simultaneously cools our heated brain down smoothly and softly.

"Kou" involves more of diversity than the previous gem. The departure vision reminds us of the similar atmosphere to Discipline King Crimson, full of tribal, oriental modalities by xylophones or percussion. The middle part features dramatic, theoretical sound disclosure fully utilized with saxophones, bass, or drums. Filippo's saxophone playing tastes crazy awesome and definitely gives their soundscape and themselves incredible thickness and depth. The latter synthesizer-oriented quirky quietness strictly lures us into mystic temptation. It's sorta surprising for the audience that even such a non-essential component for them should be created and produced in a precise, elaborated manner. In the last part we can witness their impressive ethnicity drenched in a repetitive, hallucinogenic sound organization deeply in the surrealism. They would say such a tough reality must be over in near future, just by every single progressive rock fan all over the world.

Thanks to all NODO GORDIANO members for providing a fantastic dream like "H.E.X." on behalf of Progarchives.com.

 H.E.X. by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.26 | 41 ratings

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H.E.X.
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by nick_h_nz
Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars [Originally Published At The Progressive Aspect]

In my review for Nodo Gordiano's fifth album, Sonnar, I mentioned in my introductory paragraph that it had been six years since we'd last heard from the band. I ended with the thoughts that 'between [Natalia Surovina's] 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.' With the exception of the absence of Surovina, it would appear I have my wish, as almost exactly a year later the same line-up have released Nodo Gordiano's sixth album - appropriately titled Hex. Or, rather, H.E.X. (which is revealed to stand for 'Hic Erant Xoana').

H.E.X. is a very different album from Sonnar, however, consisting of only two tracks, each exactly 26-minutes in length. Their names, Heng and Kou are two hexagrams from the I Ching (specifically the 32nd and 44th). On the other hand, 'Hic erant' within the album title is Latin for 'here were' (as in 'hic erant leones' - here were lions). Xoana were primitive statues carved or scraped from wood, and I'm not sure what they have to do with the album, although I'm sure their presence is deliberate, rather than simply something esoteric beginning with 'X' to fit the title. Perhaps it's a play on the Zhou dynasty, given their use of the I Ching. As for the lengths of the song, well they must mean some-thing too. I'm going to guess that it perhaps refers to how old the band might be? Looking on the Bandcamp page, the debut album was released in 1999, so it's not inconceivable the band had its beginnings 26 years ago. There are no vocals, so there is nothing really to help decipher the mysteries of the album and song titles, but ultimately it doesn't really matter - at least not to me. The music is so magical, I don't need meaning for it to be meaningful.

As for the music, well anyone who is familiar with the band, or who read my Sonnar review, will know that Nodo Gordiano make music in the great tradition of King Crimson. While those Krimson tones still abound in H.E.X., it opens with sounds far more reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream. Fillipo Brilli almost sounds like he is caught between channelling Mel Collins and Dick Parry. In fact, while 26 years would take us back to 1995, the music of Heng takes us back a further 20 years, to 1975 ' sounding somewhere between the albums released that year from Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream. I may well be reading too much into it, but I can't help but note that Rubycon is comprised of two tracks of almost equal length, and that Shine On You Crazy Diamond is split into two parts that add together to a total length of exactly 26-minutes. Keeping in mind Rubycon, or perhaps rather the Rubicon, Heng begins suitably with some wonderfully watery sounds, before the synths emerge in a manner of those aforementioned bands on their 1975 albums. In the I Ching, Heng stands for perseverance, duration and constancy. And this seems entirely appropriate for the sixth album from a band that has been around over twenty years.

After some squalling sax, in the fourth minute we've transitioned to a more industrial and mechanistic sound, which is an almost Krautrock bridge to the next section, and the return of the sax. This time the sax is less tempestuous, and more sublime - and we're taken on a dreamy and spacey journey redolent with the muzik of the kosmische and psychedelia. Davide Guidoni injects some jazzy energy when the drums kick in, but as much as his drumming was almost impossible to ignore on Sonnar, on H.E.X. it's very much a seasoning for an already incredibly tasty dish. In fact, as much as I've singled out the sax, it is the synths, along with some very meaty bass licks from band leader Andrea de Luca, that provide most of the enjoyment, expression and impression here. Watery sounds return around the ten-minute mark, dreamlike and languid, floating and calm. Perhaps it's worth noting that Xun is also associated with the lotus, but we don't dwell with the lotus eaters, and soon make a spirited break from this island of tranquillity.

Interestingly, neither hexagram 32 (Heng) or 44 (Kou) contain the trigram Kan, which represents water in nature; but both have Xun as their lower trigram, representing wind in nature. The other trigram that makes up Heng is Zhen, which represents thunder in nature. The thunder appears around the 15-minute mark, as Nodo Gordiano finally let loose the Crimsonesque tendencies that they are known for. The payoff is amazing. Even though I've thoroughly loved Heng up until this point, the explosive nature of this section definitely has more impact because of how long it took to reach this point. It's just as impressive and impactful when it drops away. It's no surprise either that when it drops away is when the wind sounds make their appearance. As well as being appropriate in terms of Heng's composition (as either a hexagram or musical piece), they're once more reminiscent of Pink Floyd, bringing a nice bookending feeling to the piece. Though it never sounds like either, Heng's beginnings are reminiscent of Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts 1-5, and it's endings of Parts 6-9.

Perhaps coincidentally, while Xun is wind in nature, it is wood in element (which I can't help associating the wooden Xoana). Kou begins with some percussion which has a wooden sound. Well, perhaps not wood, but given how electronic so much of H.E.X. sounds, the percussion has a decidedly more organic and natural resonance. Kou has a very different feel to Heng, and is more reminiscent of the avant stylings of Art Zoyd. While Heng still sounded, for all its differences, very much recognisably Nodo Gordiano, Kou is less so. Even when Brilli brings in the sax, it's less Krimson than Van der Graaf Generator. The only way I could attempt to find a common reference point between Heng and Kou is that Kou reminds me at time of Art Zoyd's Le Mariage du Ciel et de l'Enfer collaboration of sorts with Roland Petit, and Pink Floyd, too, worked with him. Where Heng is of wind and thunder, Kou is of wind and heaven - and there is definitely something stately and majestic about this piece. It is full of ominous grandeur, that recalls the common etymology of awesome and awful. Kou is the meeting point between the hauntingly beautiful and horrifyingly ugly. While Heng will be an easy listen for most Nodo Gordiano fans, I suspect Kou may be harder. Personally, I love it, and in a way the dichotomy between Heng and Kou works like the yin and yang of every hexagram in the I Ching. Given that Kou is the hexagram for coupling and meeting, this makes it even more appropriate.

One final note, in the I Ching, Heng and Kou are the hexagrams that appear in Xun (wind) on either side of Sheng. Sheng represents ascending and pushing upwards. And with H.E.X., Nodo Gordiano are certainly pushing upwards. Even though I was wishing for a new album from this line-up of the band after Sonnar, I did wonder how they could follow up the brilliance of that album. H.E.X. answers that, and more. It exceeds every expectation I had. So' how does the band follow this? Oh well, anyway the wind blows, doesn't really matter, to me, to me'

 H.E.X. by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2021
4.26 | 41 ratings

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H.E.X.
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by tszirmay
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Nodo Gordiano's latest work will take no prisoners with 2 tracks both exactly 26 minutes long (how Swiss of you!), no silly pop music from this group, a trio of the most gifted musicians Rome has to offer. Andre de Luca is a slick multi-instrumentalist, providing monster bass lines, assorted keyboards and electric guitars with great skill and gusto. Drummer extraordinaire Davide Guidoni (also known as 'Bruford di Roma' (an internal joke) is considered as one, if not the champion of Italian percussionists, having a superb career already with numerous prog bands and a long list of recordings. Filippo Brilli handles the saxophones as a true student of the legendary Mel Collins. The spirit of King Crimson is firmly entrenched in their artistic vision, and we are the happy audience for it. Experimental prog is always a joyride when done at this level of commitment and creative juicing. Both tracks are fully developed, taking their sweet time to lay the foundation and build up the crescendo. Deliberate, mature, structured and self-confident.

"Heng" sets the general tone effectively, slowly but surely ramping up the frenzy with unabashed vision, until the maelstrom becomes outright explosive (around the 16-minute mark), with a plethora of short sax blasts to spice it up. Throughout Davide keeps the sounds and notes in line, effortlessly marshalling the beat. Howling synthesized winds serenely put this lavish piece to bed and a little suspended reflection as a "lights out".

"Kou" begins even more ominously, a crystalline flick of the wrist on the guitar, flowing over an eerie synth cloud, percussive raindrops of sound, building deliberately into a clearer definition of the road ahead, as the musical fog lifts. At the 9-minute mark, the mists have parted, and the furious saxophone enters the fray, like a crazed tornado, doom-laden and disturbing. Filippo does not content himself with a brief appearance, preferring to really blow like it's the end of the world. Ominous, dense, almost creepy, this is quite an achievement. Crimson fans will soil their pants out of pleasure, for sure! By the 15-minute mark, the storm has passed and the ozonated keyboard swells indicate the calm ahead. The mellotron choir outro is to die for, unsettling and otherworldly! Amazing track.

52 minutes of creative instrumental prowess, one of those recordings whereby each audition will divulge new sounds, new feelings, and new interpretations, thus never growing bland or taken for granted. A perfect soundtrack of our current times.

5 bewitching spells

 Sonnar by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.04 | 67 ratings

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Sonnar
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Review Nš 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*)

 Sonnar by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.04 | 67 ratings

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Sonnar
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

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!

 Sonnar by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.04 | 67 ratings

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Sonnar
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by nick_h_nz
Collaborator Prog Metal / Heavy Prog 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.

 Sonnar by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.04 | 67 ratings

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Sonnar
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

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.

 Sonnar by NODO GORDIANO album cover Studio Album, 2020
4.04 | 67 ratings

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Sonnar
Nodo Gordiano Rock Progressivo Italiano

Review by Staartvandehond

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! Only Poet!" (4/5) begins the album in a quite dark and mystical atmosphere, in a crescendo enhanced by the use of various keyboards and guitars, to continue dynamically with Natalya's voice which underlines the various rhythmic changes and humoral of the song, up to a rather unusual ending for an open track of a disc. "Limbic Rendez-vous" (5/5) is pure crimson jazz rock matrix, with references to seminal groups such as embryo, but more markedly rock. Andrea di Luca's bass here finds an absolutely spot-on arrangement, the instrumental is embellished with fantastic work by Filippo Brilli at Sax, but it is worth remembering the excellent work of Davide Guidoni (Daal, Taproban) on percussion, making dynamism and technique for the entire album. Guidoni himself signs the next "Charun" (3,5/5) (an Etruscan mythological creature) an experimental interlude to soothe souls; here the matrix is ​​totally changed by entering with both feet in experimental and tribal territories, so near to the various Art Zoyd and Univers Zero, but in fact it is only one break for the next piece de resistance: "After Dusk" (5/5) is the center of the work: a suite of over 20 minutes that collects, elaborates, refines 25 years of the group: a summary of the new course of the group divided into eight chapters: a) Promenade b) Debut c) Hey, Mr. Professor! d) Sgalambro's Ghost e) Pometine f) Pale Gallery g) Transhipment h) Nightdrive. here is everything you could want from a modern progressive track: NODO GORDIANO pushes the dynamics to the limit, alternating them in an excellent way and always organically, without any forcing, in a majestic composition that flies away, leaving the listener delighted by so much grace. One of the most beautiful songs of the last 5 years imho. "Vanth" (4/5) (again an Etruscan mythological creature !!!) a calmer atmosphere moves, regular, with a fresh and melancholy guitar, which in the middle of the piece remains alone, duet with another guitar as was his shadow, slightly reminiscent of the Fripp - Belew duets of the "Discipline" era. "Sonnar" (4/5) is the closing piece, the title track (accompanied by a wonderful video clip) a conclusion with a melancholy atmosphere initially, and then explodes masterfully, Andrea's guitars and bass draw dramatic rhythms, and emphasize never banal lyrics: "Places, faces, stories Are just two steps apart So the sun creates its mirror Freedom overcoming The inertia of the start What's beneath, it's always queerer Shine! invokes Natalya Suvorina in a convincing vocal rehearsal, while the song closes softly in the same way it began. "Sonnar" is a musical bomb, this fifth album is much better than 2014's "Nous", work with which I met the band; they wrote beautiful heterogeneous music, with a good dose of originality, leaving me in a state of ecstasy!
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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