More great reviews of our new CD Black Light are appearing worldwide.
Meanwhile, we are busy writing and rehearsing material for a new album on Cuneiform Records (September 2017).
M A R C H 2 0 1 6
Thanks to all who helped make our mini-tour of Germany such a great experience.
Here two concert reviews (in German) from Freiburg and Ulm:
Sonar im Freiburger E-Werk
Ein Sound, der archaisch-rituelle Welten assoziieren lässt und dabei die komplex gestalteten Klangsprachen von heute nutzt
und zelebriert. Der trancenahe, meditative Erlebnisräume und klare Kompositionstechniken zusammenführt. Sonar aus der Schweiz machen es möglich.
Das international hochgelobte Quartett gab jetzt im Freiburger E-Werk ein Konzert der Extraklasse. Die vier Musiker flechten einen Minimal-Rock, der,
obwohl beeinflusst von Steve Reich, Glenn Branca oder King Crimson mit Adrian Belew, eine völlig eigene Note, einen Personalstil, besitzt. Ohne Hast
legen die beiden Gitarristen mit ihren speziell (im Tritonus) gestimmten Instrumenten schillernde Riffs und fragile melodische Sequenzen übereinander.
Weite Spannungsbögen, polymetrische Landschaften sind Hauptmerkmal dieser durchkomponierten Musik. Darin eingebunden das Spiel des Rhythmusteams: Der
Bassist verwöhnt mit knorrigen, voluminösen Noten und stimulierenden Ostinati, während der Drummer stets aufs Neue mit ungeraden Metren, verfeinerten
Rock-Mustern, einer raffinierten Reduktion und der Präzision eines Uhrwerks besticht. Beachtlich, wie diese Formation innerhalb schwebender Soundscapes immer
wieder durch Dynamik dramatische Spannung bewirkt. Sonar erlauben den körperlichen Kick ebenso wie das luzide, wache Hören. Viel Jubel. (Udo Andris)
Zahlen statt Melodien
Das Schweizer Quartett "Sonar" liefert im Club Orange kraftvolle Musik ohne Effekthascherei ab - und wird dafür belohnt.
So hätte sich der polnische Dichter Stanislaw Lem die Musik zu seinem in Hollywood verfilmten Science-Fiction-Roman "Solaris" wohl vorgestellt, die das
Schweizer Quartett "Sonar" aus ihrem neuen Album "Black Light" jetzt im Club Orange in der Ulmer vh vorstellte: Töne so präzise wie ein Uhrwerk, ausserirdisch
fremd und nah zugleich und perfektionistisch, als würden Roboter die Instrumente bedienen und die Zuhörer in einen Sogwirbel ziehen, aus dem es bis zum Ende des Konzertes kein Entrinnen gab.
Diese eidgenössische Band der Extraklasse musste vom Macher des Kunstwerk e.V. Klaus Köhler lange umworben werden, bis sie auf ihrer aktuellen Europatournee
doch nach Ulm kam, wohl wissend, dass hierzulande die Schar von Fans experimenteller Musik eher überschaubar ist. Aber wie immer vor den Kunstwerkkonzerten
konnte Köhler mit einem tollen Fünf-Gänge-Menü, von seiner Frau gekocht, in seinem Haus in Böfingen locken, sodass das Quartett gestärkt am Freitagabend den
Club Orange betreten konnte und ein hoch konzentriertes Konzert ablieferte, an das man lange denken wird.
Das Konzept der Schweizer Jazzmusiker ist einfach, aber äusserst schwer umzusetzen: Songs zu komponieren, die nicht auf Melodien basieren, sondern auf Zahlen,
Strukturen und Symmetrien. Kann so eine Musik grooven? Und wie, das bewiesen die beiden Gitarristen Stephan Thelen und Berhard Wagner, Christian Kuntner am
Elektrobass und Schlagzeuger Manuel Pasquinelli zwei Stunden lang mit einem postminimalen Soundritual, das auch Stilmittel aus dem Jazz und Progressive Rock in
sich vereinte. Schon der musikalische Einstieg mit der Nummer "Enneagram" hämmerte sich regelrecht in das Gedächtnis des Zuhörenden rein. Bei dem Donner grollenden
Tiefenbass von Christian Kuntner war man an den legendären Bassisten Dan Berglund des viel zu früh verstorbenen Esbjörn Svensson erinnert, der seinem Instrument
geradezu pyschedelische Töne entlocken konnte.
Diese kraftvolle wie präzise Musik kam ohne Effekthascherei und musiktechnischem Brimborium aus - die Schweizer Musiker liessen nur ihre Instrumente sprechen
und die hatten - um im Bild zu bleiben - viel zu sagen. Das wurde vom Publikum mit reichem Applaus belohnt.
Das Quartett hat seinem Namen "Sonar" viel Ehre gemacht. Schliesslich versteht man darunter auch das Orten von Gegenständen im Raum (und unter Wasser) mittels
ausgesandter Schallimpulse. Und wahrlich schallimpulsiv und dröhnungsfrei war dieses Auftaktkonzert des Halbjahresprogramms 2016 vom Kunstwerk e.V. in der Ulmer Volkshochschule.
(Michael Peter Bluhm)
J A N U A R Y 2 0 1 6
"Sonar never buy into any of the conventional tropes of rock music, and produce their complex meanings in the generative Reichian interplay of their four voices, rather than
by appeal to any established significations....However intellectual the music's inception, this shouldn't suggest that
it is dry or unaffecting: it is austerely and precisely beautiful, invoking an aesthetic that is extraordinarily engaging exactly because it is not like anything else. Black Light is the opposite of generic: it is utterly
particular, in its form and in its effects. There is no higher praise I could give to an album." Thanks to Oliver Arditi for his Black Lightreview on oliverarditi.com.
Thanks to all who have included our new CD Black Light on their best of 2016 list.
Thanks to Robert Steven Silverstein for his Black Light review and interview with Stephan Thelen on www.mwe3.com
D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 5
"Black Light is as perfect an album and as fulfilling a musical experience as one could hope for. It creates chaos by being precise. I called it
progressive Sufi music and believe it to be a gem that will energize and relax in equal measure. Sonar is the sound of progressive rock/jazz of the
highest and most exquisite quality and Black Light is an album that will enrich the lives of people who listen to music rather than those who merely hear it."
Thanks to Reuben Klein for voting Black Light as one of eight albums of the year on the-ear.net.
Thanks to Annie Grossmann, deputy editor at Prog Sphere, for listing Black Light as one of the best CDs of 2015.
Sonar's music "explores deep dark corners of the psyche in a manner that few other groups are capable of." Thanks to Roger Trenwith for his Black Light review on
The Progressive Aspect.
N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 5
"Rarely does a band come along that is doing something genuinely unique; that defies easy comparison. Cue Sonar, [...] a quartet from Switzerland that consists of
guitarists Stephan Thelen and Bernhard Wagner, Christian Kuntner on bass, and Manuel Pasquinelli on drums. Their music draws influence from among others King Crimson
and Steve Reich, but sounds like neither. Combining the ethos of minimalism in a rock band setting, and utilising a unique system of tuning the guitar in tritones,
the result is surprising. Your first listen will leave you puzzled as nothing seems to be happening here. The songs go on for ages, and all sound the same, at least
that's what I first thought. How wrong I was." Matt George, www.dprp.net
"I'm not sure what just happened, but this is one of the most inspiring things I ever listened to. I had my head full of strange and surreal imagery just
because of this completely unique approach of unconventional music. I felt like being caught in a labyrinth of melodies, haunted by 'the unknown'" Ernesto Lucev, Bandcamp commentary
"On its third album the Swiss instrumental quartet pushes its singular sound to new heights - both musically and sonically...
Sonar's music manages to groove despite its asymmetrical metric complexities - and sometimes groove hard - due to drummer Manuel
Pasquinelli's uncanny ability to coax out core pulses and render them intelligible to the tapping toes and sympathetic hips of even uninitiated listeners. Sublime!"
Thanks to Barry Cleveland for his excellent
review of Black Light on www.barrycleveland.com.
"[Black Light] has enough energy stored in it to power a small Midwestern town for the foreseeable future and isn't easy to categorise, but it's hard to turn off....every track is a small masterpiece." Thanks to Reuben Klein for his enthusiastic review of Black Light on www.the-ear.net.
S E P T E M B E R / O C T O B E R 2 0 1 5
Sonar is very proud to announce the release of their third full-length album Black Light.
Cuneiform Records, one of the finest labels for forward-looking music, released the album on CD and vinyl on October 16, 2015.
The CD is available in a standard version or with a limited special edition slipcase, available on the band's Bandcamp site or
at live gigs including the CD release event.
The vinyl version is a double LP in a gatefold sleeve with two bonus live tracks, also available on Bandcamp or at live gigs.
The album was recorded and mixed by the 3 time Grammy Award winning producer David Bottrill (Peter Gabriel, Tool, King Crimson) and mastered by John Cuniberti.
"this is one terrific album that should absolutely not be missed - mathematical music that still manages to touch the heart and soul,
even as the group's four members are some of the most focused and selfless players you'll hear this - or any other - year." John Kelman (All About Jazz).
"Two guitar currents circulate and sparkle hypnotically, warm deep basslines hit with assertiveness and groove, drums pound with finesse and might.
Luminous, alluring, dangerous....Sonar is a highly creative and original nocturnal entity constantly evolving in order to provide immersive and
challenging instrumental music that stimulates the mind, body and soul."
Thanks to Nocturnal Ghost for the great "Sonic Exposure" on Igloo Magazine
"This album is PHENOMENAL. What I love about this music is how meticulously composed it is and in no hurry to develop; morphing continuously, slowly and deliberately.
The grooves, syncopation and harmony are superb (Tritone-tuned guitars!) and the initial melody on "Orbit 5.7" absolutely crushes me.
"Black Light" is an undulating polyphonic, polyrhythmic and polymetric mass of texture and mood. It's subtle, sophisticated and inspired. I very highly recommend checking it out.
Listen with headphones whenever possible. Listen again. And again. Repeated listening will deliver more gifts than you could hope to receive after simply one listen. Or one-hundred..."
(Matt Tate, Black Light Facebook review, October 2015).
"...this is above all deep textural music that evolves in several directions in many dimensions simultaneously. But it's not all simply
texture, as melodies do germinate out of the skeletal rhythmics and bloom into colorful kaleidoscopic patterns while the framework behind them
continues to evolve and morph into something greater in scope and depth. There is something new and magical revealed with each successive listen to this
recordng, you'll never want to take it off, and if one is really obsessive, you may end up playing it over and over in a loop for hours on end."
Thanks to Peter Thelen for his fine review of Black Light on www.expose.org
Thanks to Sid Smith for including Sonar (music and interview) on his Podcast No. 15 from the Yellow Room. Listen to the podcast on
progzilla.com, the section with Sonar is from 24:15 - 40:20.
Thanks to Gerald Langer for his review (in German) of our concert in Würzburg, Germany,
and his review (in German) of Black Light. Gerald also shot quite a few photos
of the Würzburg concert, which are all on his website Music-On-Net. Here are four of them:
Thanks to: Karl Ackermann for his Black Light review on the All About Jazz website,
Thomas Kohlruss for his review (in German) of Black Light on babyblaue-seiten.de and to Christoph Merki for
his Tagesanzeiger review (in German) of our Black Light CD release event on September 29, 2015, at the EXIL club in Zürich.
M A Y / J U N E 2 0 1 5
Sonar plays Don Li's Part 44 on June 27th in Bern, Switzerland. Check out the
Orbital Garden website for details.
David Bottrill wrote about recording Sonar's new CD Black Light on his updated website.
"The music is at once simple and complex, polyrhythms over melodies over thunderous bass and a drummer who can seem to split his own body in half to play in two or more
different meters at once. Such a great time watching, helping to record and mixing them."
M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 5
Thanks to Markus Stegmayr for including Static Motion on his list (in German) of 10 Platten gegen akutes Hipstertum on the
Alpen Feuilleton website. Thanks also to
Maelstromzine for their review of Static Motion.
David Bottrill has finished mixing Sonar's new CD Black Light in Toronto and John Kelman
has finished writing the liner notes in Ottawa, so this CD is a real Swiss-Canadian production.
George Grella wrote: The impossible record.
Complex, minimal instrumental grooves that are so loping and locked in place that the slightest variation
of articulation, the briefest solo, have monumental effect. Seventy minutes of watching the movement of the
most beautifully made clock you've ever seen.
N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 4
In November 2014, we will be rehearsing material for our next CD, scheduled to be recorded in January 2015.
Our goal is to have all pieces ready by December 11, when we play a complete run-through of the CD live at
Bühne S (Bahnhof Stadelhofen) in Zürich.
O C T O B E R 2 0 1 4
Thanks to Jean-Paul Gavard-Perret for his
review (in French) of Static Motion on les immortels and for his poetic
review (also in French) of Static Motion on les blogs de l'art helvetique contemporain.
Thanks to Pirmin Bossart for his fine review (in German) of Static Motion in
the Swiss magazine Jazz'n'more.
Anil Prasad's article on Sonar in Guitar Player Magazine is now
"An anti-hero's masterpiece ... a revolutionary shot across the bow ...
an album that radically reinvents instrumental interplay ... with so many forms of contemporary music seemingly satisfied
to simply regurgitate weary and weathered tropes, Sonar has defied the norm by crafting something singular and magical."
Thanks to Jeff Miers (high-profile music critic for The Buffalo News (New York)) for his stellar
review of Static Motion.
Thanks to Ingo Andruschkewitsch for the Static Motion review (in German) on
Thanks to Arno Oehri for his truly wonderful review (in German) of
the Sonar gig in Liechtenstein on May 17th.
Thanks to everyone who came to our CD release party on April 24. Markus Reuter opened the first set with a
beautiful soundscape after which Sonar played 5 pieces (Tromsø, Static Motion, Twofold Covering, Landslide and Triptych). Markus joined us for
the entire second set and together we played 4 pieces (Steel Cathedral, Continuum, Tranceportation and a new piece called Angular Momentum) as well
as an encore (String Geometry). Our special guests were Sid Smith (who will write a review of the gig for Prog Magazine) and Anil Prasad, two of the most prolific
Prog journalists who met here in Zürich for the first time. The gig was filmed, so you can expect a YouTube video of at least one of the pieces soon.
On April 26, Markus, Tobias Reber and Sonar drove to a studio in Bern to record Markus' remarkable composition Falling for Ascension.
Thanks to Mr. Badlands for his review (in German) of Static Motion on rollingstone.de
Thanks to the enthusiastic audience at the Perlaton Vol 2 Festival in Zürich for making the first gig of our tour such a memorable event.
They proved once and for all that you can dance to our music, even if it's in 33/8.
Thanks to Nikola Savic for calling Static Motion "one of the five great albums you should hear in 2014" on
Thanks (again) to Mike Chadwick for playing the track Twofold Covering on his excellent JazzFM program
The Cutting Edge.
M A R C H 2 0 1 4
"...the music is stripped down to bare bones, although those bones articulate a structure of remarkable depth and complexity, built from complex polyrhythms and tense, ambiguous tonalities...
There is, as intended, great tension and power in the music. One of the most remarkable, rigorous, and truly original records I've yet heard."
Thanks to Oliver Arditi for his stunning review of Static Motion
"With progressive rock experiencing a significant resurgence, Sonar remains a rare outfit looking ever forward,
with unrelenting emphasis on the true meaning of the word "progressive." There may be no 'trons, epic songwriting
or instrumental pyrotechnics, but Static Motion - a clear evolution of Sonar's core concepts first heard on A Flaw of
Nature - is an album whose slow-build approach to dramaturgy, couched in intrinsic minimalism, reveals plenty more with each and every listen."
Thanks to the prolific John Kelman for his review of Static Motion on the All About Jazz website.
Thanks to Frank von Niederhäusern for his review (in German) of Static Motion in the Swiss cultural magazine
F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 4
"Static Motion bewitches with unique sonic rituals that beautifully combine mystery and power. This is simply captivating music by four skillful guys who think outside of the box and defy classification..."
Thanks to Nocturnal Ghost for his great review of Static Motion in
Thanks to the mighty Sid Smith for his review of Static Motion in Progrock Magazine and on his own
The track Zero Tolerance (from Static Motion) was used on the
HELMUT LANG Fall 2014 Collection Runway Show. Click here if you want to see how the models cope with a 33/8 rhythm (The track starts at 5:35)
We are genuinely touched by the large number of people who have written to us to give their respect and appreciation. "Life-altering", "utterly luxurious", "a new perspective" were some of the generous words that were used to describe
our music. Thank you all for your support and for inspiring us to continue to do what we believe in.
A tritonic salute goes to the one and only Anil Prasad, not only for writing the liner notes for
Static Motion, but also for his new interview with Sonar on www.innerviews.org, the first and longest-running online music magazine.
"Minimalism Perpetually on Edge - Sonar's "Static Motion" is the featured CD review on the
Caught in the Carousel website. It is also featured in
Stereo Embers Magazine. Thanks to Dave Cantrell for an amazing read.
The multi-media website Sound Colour Vibration called Sonar "one of the most exhilirating listens of 2014 ...their snake-like harmonizing a fascinating gift to the spectrum of modern rock music. There's a raw energy that resides within
the fabric of the groups core, jolting out of very intricate rhythms and melodic patterns to project a non-traditional sense of
collective energy. Highly technical and expressive, this is some of the best rock music I have heard in years." Read the whole article
Thanks to Mike Chadwick (The Cutting Edge, Jazz FM), Gregory Kampf (La Villa Strangiato) and many other wonderful people
for playing tracks from Static Motion on radio stations throughout the world.
Thanks to Michael Ross for his article "Introducing: Sonar" on his excellent website
Cuneiform records has released STATIC MOTION
(the title track of our
upcoming album) on YouTube.
The video was produced by Nordhang Film and shot at the band's rehearsal room in Zürich.
About the CD, Anil Prasad (innerviews.org) wrote "I'm honored to have written the liner notes for
Static Motion, the upcoming release by SONAR on Cuneiform Records. It's truly outstanding
music with a deep story to tell. Releasing in January 2014. I think you'll find it to be one of the most intriguing instrumental albums you've
encountered in a long time."
M A Y 2 0 1 3
Back from our Spring 2013 Tour...We had a fantastic time with 8 concerts in Switzerland, Germany and England
plus 4 days of recording at the great Ocean Sound Recordings Studio on Giske island in Norway. Thanks to all the wonderfully
supportive people who came to our concerts. Read two reviews of our April 30th concert at the Vortex in London:
Ian Greatorex review: here Mike Bearpark review: here
Watch a live performance of "A Flaw of Nature" (
the title track of our first album) on YouTube
(filmed by Michael Taylor at Band on the Wall in Manchester, 2 May 2013)
Watch a live performance of "Twofold Covering" ( a track that will be on the new album) on YouTube
(filmed on iPhone by Graham Bailey at Band on the Wall in Manchester, 2 May 2013)
Thanks to: Ian Greatorex for listing A Flaw of Nature as the 6th best prog album of 2012 on progarchy.com , La Villa Strangiato (progressive rock/jazz radio show in Canada) for playing Sonar tracks,
Vasilis Pavlidis for listing A Flaw of Nature as the 3rd best album of 2012 on www.mic.gr (Greece),
Aris K. (Mic.gr Music Portal Greece, Off Radio) for listing A Flaw of Nature as the 8th best album of 2012,
Robert Steven Silverstein for a new Sonar review and interview on www.mwe3.com
N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 2
"Live at Bazillus" recorded at the Bazillus club in Zürich. This show was also the release party for our first video "Tromsø", directed by Pascal Reinmann.
Watch it on YouTube or Vimeo.
J U N E 2 0 1 2
Recording the EP Skeleton Groove in Bern on June 10th.
M A Y 2 0 1 2
Thanks to Mike Chadwick for frequently playing Sonar tracks on his excellent Sunday evening program
The Cutting Edge on JazzFM (6/13/20 May). Mike is one of our great heroes:
he later helped us to play at the Band on the Wall in Manchester and at the
Capstone Theatre in Liverpool. He also continued playing Sonar tracks on JazzFM (8 July 2012, 13/20 January 2013, 10 March 2013, 8 December 2013, 26 January 2014, 30 March 2014)
A P R I L 2 0 1 2
CD release party for A Flaw of Nature in the EXIL club in Zürich. Our special guest was Sid Smith (who wrote the liner notes) and who introduced us in a legendary speech.