Sonar: Static Motion

Twinkling tritone harmonics! Palindromic clusters! Swiss precision!

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This Swiss quintet waste little time setting out their stall on their second album. Derived from composer Stephan Thelen, Bernard Wagner (guitars), Christian Kuntner (bass) and Manuel Pasquinelli (drums), tracks such as Continuum and Shadowplay have a deceptive intensity, evincing a zero tolerance policy when it comes to anything approaching flabby soloing.

Consisting mostly of twinkling tritone harmonics deployed in palindromic clusters and formations that sparkle and beguile, each player maintains an exacting precision on their parts while enjoying freedom to improvise within this framework. Not a single note is out of place during these nine tunes.

Unbelievably taut, and unyieldingly direct (as with Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin, another Swiss-based outfit) the excitement resides in rhythmic displacement and resulting tension. It’s far from being a cerebral exercise: Thelan has seeded the assembled pieces with wry quotes from the likes of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, King Crimson and ELP, scattering them like so many Easter Egg bonus features.

Had MC Escher made music instead of drawing impossible and perplexing perspectives, it would likely sound like Sonar.