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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Sonar - The Bill Laswell Mix Translations

Sonar have been around for nearly ten years. Since my rediscovery of their music thanks to Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout, and with the release of their 2018 album, Vortex via RareNoise Records along with their live performance they recorded at Moods Jazz Club in Zurich on Trey Gunn’s 7D Media label, they show no sign of stopping.

For this new released that was unearthed last week; Bill Laswell who is a producer, remixer, and bassist, reconstructed two tracks from the Vortex album, were done at Orange Music Studios last year in West Orange, New Jersey and was recorded four days in July of that same year in 2018.

What Bill has brought on those two tracks, some of the electronic structures to life and creating something that is intense and off the wall that you can never expect from Laswell himself. He’s not just honoring the sound and vision of Sonar’s music, but going beyond the solar system that is a million light years from home.

The genesis of the remixes came to life when Music Without Borders: Innerviews founder Anil Prasad e-mailed bassist and composer Stephan Thelen by telling him that he was meeting Bill for dinner and wondered if he could ask Bill to do some remixes by Sonar.

The answer from Stephan was yes. Stephan talked to his bandmates about it and decided which two tracks Bill can put his magic on the compositions. The evidence that is on The Bill Laswell Translations, is right inside the delicious Boston Crème Pie.

Listening to Billy’s mixes on both Vortex and Monolith, the first track has this very Tangerine Dream-sque landscape with some 8-bit video game structure before setting the controls through some far away distant planet that captures the early sounds of Pink Floyd before the chugging guitars and Bill’s mix captures the intensive grooves as the minimal sounds of Mike Oldfield meets Fripp-like guitars to set up the crime scene.

And then, all of a sudden, the electronics go into some dangerous tightrope as they kick into some mid-sonic overdrive with some creepy altitudes. I could tell that Laswell himself honors two of the masters of Vortex between Edgar Froese and Klaus Schulze. The bass becomes this looping walk as it becomes this questionnaire on the possible infinite universes that awaits Sonar.

Monolith goes beyond the stories from Arthur C. Clarke. It has these outer limit concept features some of the punching bass work while heading towards King Crimson’s Starless and Bible Black-era. Laswell’s bass punches through the controls by going through these abandoned space stations to find out what happened and what went horribly wrong.

He whooshes, swirls, and swooshing throughout the cavernous places that can be very, very dangerous. I really liked how Bill tackled two of the best compositions from the Vortex album. I can imagine it was quite a challenge. But he took it and it can make your skin crawl bit by bit. I would like to see him work with Sonar one day in the near future on the next release.

Please check out my other reviews I did on two Sonar albums from the Echoes and Dust website.

Sonar + David Torn - Vortex:

Sonar - Live at Moods

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