Sonar - Black Light (2015)
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Progressive Rock, Experimental Rock, Minimalism | Cuneiform Records #Rune 414
Sonar and their mesmerizing/infuriating (choose depending on your perspective) music exploded on a unsuspecting world with Cuneiform's release of their album, Static Motion, 2 years ago. An instrumental rock quartet consisting of 2 guitars, bass and drums, they are a progressive, post-minimal, instrumental band from Switzerland. Their name stands for SONic ARchitecture, alluding to their intention of creating polymetrical soundscapes and highly structured aural spaces. Sonar's music is played live without any sequencers, loops or computers using a minimum amount of equipment: 2 guitars, a bass guitar, 3 small amplifiers und a basic drum kit. No effects are used to keep the music as clear, direct and immediate as possible. The group is very concerned about timbres, tension and release, group dynamics and instrumental interplay...
The group toured throughout Europe upon the release of their last one and more shows are planned, including their second US tour in 2016.
Cuneiform Records released the album on CD and vinyl on October 16, 2015. The album was recorded and mixed by the 3 time Grammy Award winning producer David Bottrill (Peter Gabriel, Tool, King Crimson) and mastered by John Cuniberti.
"this is one terrific album that should absolutely not be missed - mathematical music that still manages to touch the heart and soul, even as the group's four members are some of the most focused and selfless players you'll hear this - or any other - year." John Kelman (All About Jazz).
"Two guitar currents circulate and sparkle hypnotically, warm deep basslines hit with assertiveness and groove, drums pound with finesse and might. Luminous, alluring, dangerous....Sonar is a highly creative and original nocturnal entity constantly evolving in order to provide immersive and challenging instrumental music that stimulates the mind, body and soul." Thanks to Nocturnal Ghost for the great "Sonic Exposure" on Igloo Magazine
"This album is PHENOMENAL. What I love about this music is how meticulously composed it is and in no hurry to develop; morphing continuously, slowly and deliberately. The grooves, syncopation and harmony are superb (Tritone-tuned guitars!) and the initial melody on "Orbit 5.7" absolutely crushes me. "Black Light" is an undulating polyphonic, polyrhythmic and polymetric mass of texture and mood. It's subtle, sophisticated and inspired. I very highly recommend checking it out. Listen with headphones whenever possible. Listen again. And again. Repeated listening will deliver more gifts than you could hope to receive after simply one listen. Or one-hundred..." (Matt Tate, Black Light Facebook review, October 2015).
"...this is above all deep textural music that evolves in several directions in many dimensions simultaneously. But it's not all simply texture, as melodies do germinate out of the skeletal rhythmics and bloom into colorful kaleidoscopic patterns while the framework behind them continues to evolve and morph into something greater in scope and depth. There is something new and magical revealed with each successive listen to this recordng, you'll never want to take it off, and if one is really obsessive, you may end up playing it over and over in a loop for hours on end." Thanks to Peter Thelen for his fine review of Black Light on www.expose.org
Sonar Biography by Dave Lynch (All Music)
Swiss experimental rock quartet Sonar (whose name is a portmanteau of "sonic" and "architecture") comprise guitarists Stephan Thelen and Bernhard Wagner, bassist Christian Kuntner, and drummer Manuel Pasquinelli. The bandmembers bring an array of talents uniquely suited to creating Sonar's precise and rhythmically complex yet spacious and streamlined post-minimalist sound, harmonically idiosyncratic with the guitars and bass tuned in tritones (an interval given the Latin name diabolus in musica -- the devil in music -- during medieval times). The California-born Thelen is a strong admirer of the early- to mid-'70s (Starless and Bible Black) and early- to mid-'80s (Discipline) editions of King Crimson, and participated with the Venezuela-born Wagner in Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft seminars in the '90s. Thelen (Sonar's principal composer) also studied classical guitar, and he earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Zurich. As a solo artist, Wagner performs and records using innovative live looping processes; he is also a software engineer. Kuntner and Pasquinelli are participants in a wide variety of bands and projects, and both are former students at the University of Arts in Bern.
Influenced by Fripp's arpeggiated and riff-centric post-minimalist structures, guitarists Thelen and Wagner cemented the concept of their own band in Switzerland in the summer of 2010, and held their first rehearsals with bassist Kuntner and drummer Pasquinelli in November of that year. Sonar played their first gigs in Zurich and Bern in June 2011, and recorded their debut album, A Flaw of Nature, live in the studio at Bern's Swiss Jazz School two months later. A Flaw of Nature was released on pianist Nik Bärtsch's Ronin Rhythm imprint in April 2012. Not letting their momentum flag (rather appropriate considering the steady propulsiveness of their music), Sonar were back at the Swiss Jazz School in June 2012 to record (again live in the studio) their next release, the four-track EP Skeleton Groove, which was released by Thelen's RepTile imprint in November -- the same month that Sonar recorded their next album live at Zurich's Bazillus Club. Live at Bazillus was released digitally by RepTile in December 2012 (incidentally, several months before the jazz venue with a 40-year history closed its doors for the last time). April and May of 2013 found Sonar on a European tour featuring dates in Switzerland, Germany, and England, along with four days of recording -- once again live in the studio -- at Ocean Sound in Giske, Norway. The sessions resulted in the music heard on the band's third full-length album, Static Motion, released by the Cuneiform label in January 2014.
01. Enneagram [09:17]
02. Black Light [05:35]
03. Orbit 5.7 [08:38]
04. Angular Momentum [09:26]
05. String Geometry [06:00]
06. Critical Mass [10:35]
Stephan Thelen - electric tritone guitar
Bernhard Wagner - electric tritone guitar
Christian Kuntner - electric tritone bass
Manuel Pasquinelli - drums