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Sonar: Live At Moods

Read "Live At Moods" reviewed by Chris M. Slawecki

Recorded Live at Moods jazz club in Zürich (Switzerland) in May 2018, this set reconnects guitar electronics visionary David Torn with the band Sonar. Torn played with Sonar on their previous album Vortex, and this live set picks up three tunes ("Waves and Particles," “Red Shift" and “Lookface!") from that earlier collaboration. How does Sonar make their music sound so different? For starters, founding guitarist Stephan Thelen and Bernhard Wagner play guitars, and Christian Kuntner plays bass, in ...

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Sonar: Live At Moods

Read "Live At Moods" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Swiss experimentalists Sonar found a new groove on their album Vortex (RareNoiseRecords, 2018): the marriage of their intricate pattern playing with the American guitarist/live looper David Torn's raw emotional abandon created a rich synthesis. This live album is a celebration of that sound, but it is much more than a live version of their collaboration in the studio. Opener “Twofold Covering" starts out in fresh territory, adding Torn to a track from Sonar's Static Motion (Cuneiform Records, 2014). ...

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Sonar with David Torn: Vortex

Read "Vortex" reviewed by John Kelman

It might be all too simple to explain away Sonar, the Swiss twin-guitar/bass/drums quartet now in its eighth year together, through a series of touchstones. King Crimson, by way of that band's co-founder/guitarist Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft? Check. The influence of Nik Bartsch and Don Li's innovative meshing of Steve Reich-ian minimalism with deceptively complicated polyrhythmic and isorhythmic rock/funk grooves, where as much as can be is made of as little as possible? Double Check. Guitarist and primary composer Stephan ...

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Sonar with David Torn: Vortex

Read "Vortex" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Swiss art rock/minimalist band Sonar have always had a way with a groove, combining repeating patterns (frequently in mixed meters) into a hypnotic blend. In this they have a lot in common with Steve Reich's Musicians (in the new-music world) and fellow Swiss Nik Bärtsch's Ronin (in the jazz world). Sonar has always sounded like a rock band, but somewhat restrained. With American guitarist/looper David Torn as producer and collaborator it has found its id: music with a rougher, more ...

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Sonar: Black Light

Read "Black Light" reviewed by Karl Ackermann

By virtue of its experimental and often convoluted definition, progressive jazz seems to require an increasingly larger umbrella. Under that broadly encompassing category, the Switzerland- based quartet SONAR is a noteworthy and unconventional standout. Black Light is their fourth release (but only the second to be made widely available) and for those who have followed the artistic development of the group it is all the more revelatory an experience. SONAR has nuanced the more percussive tone of Static Motion (Cuneiform ...

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Sonar: Static Motion

Read "Static Motion" reviewed by John Kelman

At a time when more recordings are released than ever before, it's rare to find a group that not just changes the way music is made, but the way it's defined. That description could easily fit Swiss pianist Nik Bartsch and his longstanding group Ronin, its Ritual Groove Music jettisoning overt virtuosity and conventional form for ultra-disciplined structural constructs and a deeper kind of interaction amongst its members. The same can be said, however, for Sonar, whose A Flaw of ...