ProgDay 2016

Sonar photo
Sonar

"Had MC Escher made music instead of drawing his famously impossible and perplexing perspectives, it would sound like Sonar."
- Sid Smith, PROG MAGAZINE

SONAR is a avant-progressive, post-minimal band from Switzerland. Their name stands for SONic ARchitecture, which alludes to their intention of creating polymetric and highly structured sound sculptures.

Fusing a rigorous minimal esthetic with the power of a rock band, SONAR create sonic rituals unlike anything you have ever heard before. With their slow-build approach to dramaturgy and avoidance of conventional forms, they focus on collective group efforts and a deeper kind of interaction amongst their four members.

It's music, but not like you know it. Just about everything is different with SONAR: the sound, the harmonies, the rhythms, the whole musical concept. Their instantly recognizable sound is partly 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 their 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" and that avoids conventional musical clichés. The group's rhythms are also highly unconventional and usually consist of multi-layered polymetric rhythms and isorhythms in mainly odd metres.

Sonar photo

SONAR's less-is-more approach is also mirrored in their choice of equipment: their music is always played live without any sequencers, loops or computers, using only two guitars, a bass guitar, three small amplifiers and a basic drum kit. They are just as comfortable playing in a small living room as on a big stage in front of 1000 people. Nearly effect-free (with just a touch of reverb), the band does this to keep the music as clear, direct and immediate as possible. SONAR does not consider itself or operate as a collection of soloists; rather, their efforts are oriented towards making the music more than the sum of the individual parts of the players.

By using unusual harmonies as well as complex and layered polyrhythms the group ultimately aims to let their listeners re-experience the mystery, power and magic of hearing music for the first time.


Sonar photo

In 2012, they released their first CD, A Flaw of Nature, on Nik Bärtsch's Ronin Rhythm Records label as well as the four track EP Skeleton Groove and the digital live album Live at Bazillus. Cuneiform records released their second full-length CD Static Motion in 2014. Their third album, Black Light, was recorded and mixed by acclaimed producer David Bottrill and released by Cuneiform in 2015 on CD and vinyl.

 

On The Web:

Sonar Official Web Site
Sonar on Bandcamp
Sonar on Cuneiform Records

Music To Check Out:

"Black Light" from Black Light:

"Static Motion" from Static Motion:


To hear music from all of this year's bands,
please visit the MUSIC page.

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THE BAND
slideshow

STEPHAN THELEN
(Electric Tritone Guitar)

BERNHARD WAGNER
(Electric Tritone Guitar)

CHRISTIAN KUNTNER
(Electric Tritone Bass)

MANUEL PASQUINELLI
(Drums)

THE MUSIC

Sonar New Release placeholder

Vortex (2017)

Black Light cover

Black Light (2015)

Static Motion cover

Static Motion (2014)

Live at Bazillus cover

Live at Bazillus (2012)

Skeleton Groove cover

Skeleton Groove (EP)
(2012)

A Flaw Of Nature cover

A Flaw Of Nature (2012)

THE WORD

"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. – Album of the Year 2015."
- THE EAR

"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.'"
- John Kelman,
ALL ABOUT JAZZ

"...the band’s new effort, Static Motion, is a revolutionary shot across the bow for what we might consider to be the possibilities of modern day guitar music. ...an album that radically reinvents instrumental interplay in the (vaguely, at least) rock setting.... 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."
- Jeff Miers,
THE BUFFALO NEWS

"This quartet is unlike anything you've heard before. How often can you say you've encountered a truly unique act? Rarely. Here's one that qualifies."
- Anil Prasad

"Every so often a band comes into our sights and completely blows us away... SONAR performs music in its purest form which results in spellbinding performances (that) create a bold but harmonically enjoyable musical cosmos. This is truly music as you've never experienced it before and a one of a kind musical performance."
- THE CAPSTONE THEATRE,
Liverpool, UK