Their second collaboration with guitarist and composer David Torn and fifth overall, Swiss avant-garde act Sonar deliver another uncompromising yet highly enjoyable experience. Tranceportation (Volume 1) continues what was laid down in Vortex only 18 months ago, combining artificial yet inventive looping with virtuosic, organic instrumentation.
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There’s one word I really must use to talk about this album, so I’m going to get it out of the way now. ‘Tranceportation (Volume 1)’ is taut. The guitar playing is taut. The bass playing is taut. The drumming? Oh you know it’s taut. The whole record feels stretched to its breaking point, any out of place note from Sonar or David Torn and the whole thing is liable to snap.
The guitars and bass are playing tritones, which a quick visit to my search engine of choice tells me is also called The Devil’s Interval. Spooky. They’re called that because they’re unsettling, and this is how ‘Tranceportation’ gets under your skin. It’s like how top perfume’s often have an unpleasant undercurrent that keeps drawing you back.
Those tritones find themselves in a sort of minimalist rock groove; more groovy than Nisennenmondai, but more restrained than Endless Boogie. The foundation is of course the rhythm section. Bass and drums lock into their own trance, the former lumbering and confident, the latter nervous and fidgeting. This leaves the guitars to, for lack of a better word, jam. The pair occasionally trade guitar licks, but more often than not you’ll hear one of them matching the drummers energy, ramping up the tension to an almost unbearable degree.
When release comes, it’s in the form in the change of rhythm. Halfway through the third track, 'Red Sky', the bass is suddenly a bit lighter, shifting everything along with it. But before you know it, it's taut again.
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- Tranceportation (Volume 1) by Sonar with David Torn
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