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Sonar With David Torn: Tranceportation (Volume 1)

Dan McClenaghan By

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The Swiss band Sonar released Vortex (RareNoiseRecords) in 2018, bringing American avant-garde guitarist David Torn along for the ride. The addition of a third guitar to Sonar's two guitar / bass / drums lineup was a crunchy, hypnotic, funk-grooving, hard-driving multi-layered success. A follow-up of sorts, Tranceportation (Volume 1) brings more of the same, and then some.

While Torn was originally employed as the producer of Vortex, he apparently found Sonar's music for the planned recording compelling. It pulled him in, the way Jupiter pulls in Mercury-sized moons. He brought his guitar. The results included more complex texturalizations and layerings and soaring, out-of-this-world soloing that hadn't originally been part of the plan. Spontaneity (and Sonar's inexorable energy) was the name of the game.

For Tranceportation (Volume 1), the music was composed with Torn's guitar contributions in mind. The sound has a locked-in, repetitive, trance-inducing quality, in contrast to Torn's otherworldly harmonics and live looping. On an initial listen the "progessive rock" tag might come to mind. Big, hard, heavy bass and drums laying down something similar to Swiss pianist Nik Bartsch's ritual groove music, behind a guitar approach which sounds like modernistic—or maybe futuristic—robotic surf rock, over which Torm paints wide swaths of neon luminescence.

Tranceportation (Volume 1) is a mesmerizing, modernistic electric guitar fest of the first order, a forty-minute blast taken from the eighty minutes worth of bold sounds laid down during a marathon five day session. A Volume 2 is planned for release in 2020.

Track Listing: Labyrinth; Partitions; Red Sky; Tunnel Drive.

Personnel: Stephen Thelen: tritone guitar; Bernhard Wagner: tritone guitar; Christian Kuntner: tritone bass; Manuel Pasquinelli: drums; David Torn: electric guitar, live looping and manipulation.

Title: Tranceportation (Volume 1) | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: RareNoiseRecords

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