Sonar - A Flaw Of Nature
Excellent debut release by this four piece group (2 guitars, bass, drums) led by Swiss minimal composer / musician Stephan Thelen. This is released by Nik Bärtsch's label, and it have very obvious ties to Nik's esthetic, but this is more of a rock band. Think of it as a very stripped down Glenn Branca, Don Caballero or King Crimson crossed with heavy minimalistic moves and Present's "Promenade au Fond d'un Canal". Everything is perfectly calculated and precise; even the drum fills seem planned to move you slowly but inexorably towards whatever ultimate denouement this album is heading your towards. I have a huge love for minimalism and stuff that unfolds slowly, so bear that in mind, but I found this to be utterly awesome.
"SONAR is a new Post-Minimal-Rock band from Switzerland. The name stands for Sonic Architecture, describing their intention of creating musical atmospheres, polyrhythmic soundscapes and highly structured aural spaces. Sonar's music is played live without any sequencers, loops or computers using a minimum amount of equipment: 2 guitars, a bass guitar, 3 small amplifiers und a basic drum kit. No effects are used (except a touch of reverb and tremolo) to keep the music as direct and immediate as possible. The band does not consider itself a collection of soloists, rather a small chamber (groove-)orchestra, where only collective efforts matter. The instantly recognizable sound of Sonar is due to the special tuning of the guitars and the bass guitar to tritones (C / F# / C / F# / C / F#), an interval sometimes called the devil in music (diabolus in musica). A large proportion of the music is played using only the natural harmonics of these two notes, thereby creating a harmonically ambiguous musical microcosmos that the group calls "tritone harmonics"."
"You might need a moment to get used to Sonar's idiosyncratic sound world. But once you are in, you don't want to leave..." (Nik Bärtsch)
"A really fascinating blend of art-rock, groove-based minimalism and abstract mathematical theory, all woven together to great effect" (John Schaefer on New Sounds, Radio WNYC, New York)
"With the guitars and bass tuned to tritones, there's a semi-dissonant, challenging quality to the constellations of plucked harmonics that chime in orbit around each other. They create interlocking, overlapping and polyrhythmic meters, reminiscent of the early minimalist microworlds of Steve Reich and the 80s-era gamelan rock of King Crimson." (Sid Smith, from the sleeve notes of the CD)