Exposé Online banner

Sonar with David Torn — Vortex
(RareNoise RNR087, 2018, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-03-30

Vortex Cover art

A musical world filled with complex mathematical rhythms, odd angles and planes, sharp corners and geometric surfaces, these Swiss practitioners have created their own place in multi-dimensional space. The band functions essentially as a four-piece complex rhythm section of two guitars, bass, and drums, with the somewhat unique distinction of having all their strings tuned to C or F# in pursuit of a minimalist ideal. The members feed a shared polyrhythmic style that features few chords and no solos, shifting effortlessly from gentle harmonics and washes into deft interrupt-driven hard-edged telepathic complexity. They have groomed their sound over three full length studio albums now, and the essence of this new album is the same as their previous efforts, with one very important change. In my 2014 review of the band’s Cuneiform debut Static Motion (which is a perfect title for what Sonar does) I wrote: “I occasionally wonder what an additional lead instrument, like a sax or violin, could contribute to their sound. The skeletal minimalism which is one of the beauties of Sonar’s craft would of course be lost, but the occasional interception of a melodic lead instrument might add something worthwhile to the mix of ideas.” That’s precisely what Sonar has done on Vortex. The melodic lead instrument in this case is not a sax or violin, but the visionary and heavily effected guitar work of one David Torn (also the album’s producer), who creates seemingly on-the-fly improvisation and loops that soar above, through, and within the rhythms created by guitarists Bernhard Wagner and Stephan Thelen, bassist Christian Kuntner, and amazing drummer Manuel Pasquinelli, who holds it all together. Something like this is exactly what Sonar needed, to build upon their strengths and previous achievements, and keep their sound fresh and vital. The six long tracks here represent an important milestone in Sonar’s development, offering a powerful extension of their concept.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): David Torn, Sonar, Stephan Thelen

More info
http://sonar-band.bandcamp.com/album/vortex-w-david-torn

Latest news

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cast - Originallis – For their latest, Mexican proggers Cast have delivered a super-sized collection of 16 songs spread across two CDs – a Flower Kings-like effort, with similar strengths and weaknesses. For some...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues