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Nodo Gordiano - Sonnar CD (album) cover

SONNAR

Nodo Gordiano

 

Rock Progressivo Italiano

4.07 | 53 ratings

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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*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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