Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Sonar with David Torn: Vortex
Guitar whiz Henry Kaiser introduced fellow plectrist David Torn to Sonar, a Swiss quartet with Stephan Thelen and Bernhard Wagner on guitars, electric bassist Christian Kuntner and drummer Manuel Pasquinelli, thinking that they would all make some fantastic music together. Vortex, recorded over three days in Switzerland, proves him spot on with his idea. With loops within loops and rhythms within rhythms, this mass of guitar noise and muscular drumming is a load of big electric fun. More about atmosphere and feeling than heroic soloing or pyrotechnic displays of rapid-fire unisons, the rock-oriented fusion of Vortex succeeds rather nicely at imparting a sense of purposeful unity as the ensemble explores and elaborates on the minimalist compositions. Stephan Thelen is the main composer, working with Torn on Monolith and Swiss composer Don Li on the combustible Part 44. Highlights include the shifting grooves of Wave and Particles, the super-charged title track which features more dynamic movement than the other pieces, and the peaceably angular Monolith, which Torn describes as floating along, “like a cross between Miles Davis and Jon Hassell.” Closing the show is the odd-metered Lookface!, a group improvisation laced with Hendrix-isms and staggered beats, ending with a startlingly quiet and meditative passage that fades slowly back into silence. With Torn’s grit sprinkled over Sonar’s sparkling textures, the results seem to have made everyone happy. Well worth a listen.
RareNoise RNR087; Stephan Thelen, Bernhard Wagner (g) Christian Kuntner (el b) Manuel Pasquinelli (d) with David Torn (el g, live-looping, manipulation); Maur, Switzerland, February 15-17, 2017; Part 44/ Red Shift/ Waves and Particles/ Monolith/ Vortex/ Lookface!; 56:14. www.rarenoiserecords.com