SONAR – Live at Moods (2018) review
Live at Moods (2018 – 7d Media – Europe)
The momentous mathematical polyrhythm tritone masters present you with a striking live show at Moods Jazz Club (Zurich, Switzerland) played on May 24, 2018. If you were bowled over with their last studio release ‘Vortex’, with producer, guitar extraordinaire David Torn as a member, then you will want this, which also features Torn on every cut. STUNNING!
‘Live at Moods’ has three compositions from ‘Vortex’ (‘Waves and Particles’, ‘Red Shift’, and ‘Lookface’) and one from their album ‘Static Motion’ (‘Twofold Covering’). Also included is ‘Tromso’, which was originally without Torn on Sonar’s debut album ‘A Flaw of Nature’. And a bonus called ‘For Lost Sailors’, which is an ingenious improvisation by David Torn. Six showcase pieces to thrill and supercharge the audience/listener’s senses. Most cuts at over 10 minutes, the CD opens with ‘Twofold Covering’ ( a work that was written with the guitar pattern played half as fast and two octaves below the duplicated bass line). Add in the out of this world guitar soundscaping and wizard lead of Torn, the precision Fripp-like tritone guitar genius of founder, composer, and master of Sonar, Stephan Thelen, and life is fantastic! (see You Tube link provided at top with bandcamp link).
As a five piece, Stephan Thelen: Tritone Guitar/ Bernhard Wagner: Tritone Guitar/ Christian Kuntner: Tritone Bass/ Manuel Pasquinelli: Drums/ and David Torn: Electric Guitar & Live Looping, the band has never been better. They have a magic carpet now, and these last two releases (‘Vortex’ and ‘Live at Moods’) have been one exclusive ride in the greatest of all universes. All without keyboards. Every song is done with amazing precision, full blown enthusiasm, great intelligence, and a much deserved dignity. Pasquinelli shows not only an incredible steadiness on drums, with dozens of webbed rhythms, but also a powerful ability with fills and short solo work within a maze of music (re: ‘Twofold Covering’). The three tritone artists (2 guitarists, 1 bass) have a naturally honed skill to create beautifully balanced structures of music, while Torn is often given freedom to dive, dart, soar, and tangle his technical pathfinder guitar virtuoso.
It is evident that Torn has put a new spark plug into the engine of Sonar, but to be fair, the writing of Stephan Thelen and execution of all of the members are what allows any of the things to exist and thrive in the band. ‘Live at Moods’ is a topflight concert and it is a privilege to listen to it on a CD, on a fine stereo, where the listener can absorb, embrace, and enjoy this stellar performance as it was delivered. Can we all beg for a live DVD of one of these shows? HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Reviewed by Lee Henderson 12 – 13 – 2018