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

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

The Residents - Petting Zoo – This collection is billed as a collection of the Residents’ more “accessible” tracks. I think it’s safe to say this is not an attempt to grab mainstream mass appeal, for even...  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues