July 23, 2024

Sonar – Live At Moods – improvising progressive jazz album impresses

7D MEDIA        16th November 2018

I’m fond of live albums. They give a band a chance to show its chemistry without the temptation to burnish the rough edges (though some can’t help themselves…). This set offers up a band improvising and tugging at the edges of its work in lengthy pieces.

Opening on a slow bass pattern, an insistent Krautrock guitar figure is added and keyboards begin to swirl. So far, so jazz-prog. The temperature hots up and the piece keeps throbbing as the band improvise; solos arriving and leaving, patterns tried and abandoned extrapolated. The group-mind journeys through these pieces making it an involving listen.

Recorded live at Moods Jazz Club in Zürich, Switzerland, on May 24th 2018, the band is joined by a guest, David Torn, an electronic guitarist and responsible for looping effects. I’ve not heard the previous four studio albums, so I can’t tell you if Torn makes a difference but I sense that the live performance does and the evening is very organic in flow. Torn’s guitar seems to flow with feeling and this works nicely in the structured polyrhythms of the rest of the band.

This is jazz, just played in a progressive rock / Krautrock idiom. The band push and explore ideas, things get distorted, the envelope gets pushed. Yet it stays in head-nodding beat territory and the noodling is substantial. The pieces, averaging ten minutes have plenty of time to explore and extrapolate in front of an appreciative but contemplative live audience. The mood is fairly consistent and territory is investigated and marked out by this band, creating a superb mood of musical stimulation.

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