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

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Nick Kizirnis - Into the Loud – If you ever wondered what's up in Dayton, Ohio, Nick Kizirnis may be able to offer some clues with his first solo release Into the Loud. A veteran of numerous other Dayton area bands (Cage,...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues