The second instalment of the collision of soundworlds known as Sonar and David Torn arrives by design rather by accident. Whereas Vortex was the result of Torn’s exploratory guitar finding a home amongst Sonar’s cyclical minimalist grooves after the music had initially been written for the Swiss quartet, Tranceportation sees the two elements writing together with the express intent of structuring the pieces to enable space within which Torn’s coruscating whirlwind of guitar could operate.
Opener Labyrinth, at nearly a quarter-hour in length, has the time to develop from familiar understated beginnings, and then proceeding with an ever-increasing sense of urgency, as the hirsute guitarist’s howls and waves of fury crash on a rock-solid undertow, powered by the driven yet subtle rhythm section of Manuel Pasquinelli on the drums and Christian Kuntner’s pulsing tritonal bass figures.
If you are familiar with this yin and yang pairing, both on album, and from the revealing live concerts they have performed, then what you will hear on Tranceportation may at first seem familiar, but the added purposeful energy within these grooves soon becomes apparent as Labyrinth plays out. Stephan Thelen’s compositions leave all the right spaces in the latticework for David Torn to exploit, and with Partitions, Torn turns in an almost ballad-like part, in a nice contrast to the layered angst of the previous track.
Red Sky sees a more considered opening to the second half of the album, coming together as a Kosmische jigsaw puzzle being assembled without mechanical contact before our very eyes (or ears!). Torn trips the light fantastic, caressing the puzzle pieces with feathers as they form from nowhere, falling slowly, gently into place on an ever-shifting ground. The track has an ethereal quality as it melts away as indistinctly as it arrives.
The Swiss know a thing or two about tunnels, and concluding track Tunnel Drive takes us back, deep into the Alpine rock of the reassuring base sound of Sonar, who seem to exist in a world without time. David Torn lights the way through to the other side, and the only criticism I would have of this album is that it is not nearly long enough. Luckily for me, and you too, I hope, the recording session resulted in over 80 minutes of music being committed to zeros and ones, hence the “Volume One” of this release. We await Volume Two with anticipatory glee, scheduled for release in May 2020.
01. Labyrinth (14:26)
02. Partititions (5:37)
03. Red Sky (11:14)
04. Tunnel Drive (7:42)
Total Time – 38:59
David Torn – Electric Guitar, Live Looping
Stephan Thelen – Tritone Guitar
Bernhard Wagner – Tritone Guitar
Christian Kuntner – Tritone Bass Guitar
Manuel Pasquinelli – Drums, Percussion
Record Label: RareNoise
Country of Origin: Switzerland
Date of Release: 29th November 2019