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Nodo Gordiano - Sonnar CD (album) cover

SONNAR

Nodo Gordiano

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.04 | 67 ratings

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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

tszirmay | 4/5 |

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