For their second Cuneiform Records studio album (and third overall), Swiss instrumental act Sonar once again dive even deeper into dark, adventurous King Crimson inspired territory. Not surprising that the band continues to go down this path, seeing as both guitar players, Stephan Thelen & Bernhard Wagner both took part in and met while spending time in Robert Fripp's Guitar Craft a number of years ago before forming Sonar in 2010. Along with bassist Christian Kunter and drummer Manuel Pasquinelli, the quartet have created here six lengthy, mesmerizing examples of weaving prog/jazz-fusion/avant-garde styled music that almost defies categorization.
With the two guitars, you'd think that the due would 'overplay', but that's never the case, instead opting for layers of broken chords, sustained notes, and the occasional sonic burst. Opening track "Enneagram" sets the stage, over 9-minutes of undulating magic, the tension of upcoming bombast always there but never being completed, with two guitars and bass casually weaving around each other over delicate yet tricky drum patterns. The title track is a bit more upbeat, as Pasquinelli's drumming drives some snappy, almost funky riffs, while "Orbit" and "Angular Momentum" both take the slow build road, repetitive rhythms and guitar patters gently growing in size and volume before reaching a shimmering crescendo. "String Geometry" is the closest any of these songs approach jazz, and the 10+ minute "Critical Mass" is easily the most menacing, a dark prog masterpiece filled with haunting guitar chords and repeating notes, once again with that threat of pure bombast building and building but never fully unleashed. A few live bonus tracks that follow a similar pattern are included for good measure, as the listener is able to hear just how well Sonar's style is performed in a live context.
While some listeners might get frustrated by Sonar's refusal to really 'go for it' here on Black Light, there's a certain charm to their sense of restraint that you don't hear all too often. This is classy, intricate, yet restrained music that demands your attention, but will take time to all sink in as it doesn't try to bowl you over from the outset.
Black Light 05:34
Orbit 5.7 08:37
Angular Momentum 09:25
String Geometry 05:59
Critical Mass 10:34
Tromsų [Bonus Live Track] 10:23
Twofold Covering [Bonus Live Track] 08:03