Exposé Online banner

Sonar — The Bill Laswell Mix Translations
(7d Media 1812, 2019, CD / DL)

Sonar with David Torn — Tranceportation Vol​.​ 1
(RareNoise RNR113, 2019, CD / LP / DL)

by Jon Davis, Published 2020-02-14

The Bill Laswell Mix Translations Cover artTranceportation Vol​.​ 1 Cover art

It could fairly be said that if you’ve heard one Sonar album, you’ve heard them all. Their basic idiom is quite fixed, with repeated grooves in varying meters topped by interlocking guitar parts, though they manage to eke out many variations on the theme. When they started working with David Torn on Vortex (2018), things changed a bit with the addition of highly textural wild-card guitar added into the fold. The Bill Laswell Mix Translations hands the tracks from Vortex over to master sound manipulator Bill Laswell, who gives us two lengthy tracks which might be said to give us a different view on the source material, the sonic equivalent of viewing the music through a new lens. It is still very much a Sonar album, and is eminently listenable in the same way as the original.

Given how well Vortex worked, and how well-received it was, it’s no surprise that Sonar and Torn decided to continue the partnership, and Tranceportation Vol. 1 is the result. And while it is instantly recognizable as Sonar, somehow they’ve managed to outdo themselves. Without substantially altering their modus operandi, the group has produced what may be their finest album yet. It’s a little hard to say exactly what sets this apart from the previous releases, but I would put the opening track, “Labyrinth,” in the top position of everything they’ve recorded. It’s fourteen and a half minutes of tight rhythms, minimalist repetition, and subtle atmospheres, all spiced up with a hefty dose of Tornsanity. “Partitions,” “Red Sky,” and “Tunnel Drive” present three more variations on the ideas presented, further evidence that this combination of musicians works quite well. Will I eventually tire of hearing Sonar do the Sonar thing? Maybe, but that point hasn’t been reached yet, and if the next one is as good as this one, probably not even then.


Filed under: New releases, 2019 releases

Related artist(s): David Torn, Bill Laswell, Sonar, Stephan Thelen

More info
http://sonar-band.bandcamp.com/album/tranceportation-vol-1

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Strawbs - Deep Cuts & Heartbreak Hill – I don't think even the most rabid Strawbs fan (maybe not me, but I'm close, so I should know) would say these two albums represent the band's peak. That being said, there are still some...  (2007) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues