Sonar with David Torn, Samuel Hällkvist, Thor de Force

Sonar with David Torn, Samuel Hällkvist, Thor de Force

Jul 28, 2020 1 By Marcello Nardi

Sonar with David Torn – Tranceportation Vol. 2 (RareNoise, 2020)

Does it ever change anything in Sonar‘s music. Does it need to change it anyway. Does it ultimately matter. In this very specific moment, where pondering the word change and its branching consequences seems an inescapable condition, the quintet made by Swiss tritone-based band plus the featuring of David Torn continues exploring creepy repetitions and dwelling uneartlhy and telluric grooves in an unique way through an unique mix of hypnotic clear guitar-driven rhthms, deep grooves and haunting textures. 

Like testing the tension of elements in wind tunnels, they bend interlocking rhythms through multifarious odd measures to create a sense of peaceful pause. The quintet, made by Stephan Thelen and Bernhard Wagner at tritone guitars, Christian Kuntner at tritone bass and Manuel Pasquinelli at drums, creates a dialogue through the resonant clean harmonics and sliding glitchy sounds of legendary guitarist David Torn

Tranceportation Vol. 2 celebratas 10 years in the band’s career and their third release on RareNoise. Reaching also the mark of the third album in collaboration with the American guitarist, Slowburn might be one of the pinnacles of this collaboration. Starting with a deep bell-like pattern, mastered by the incredible bass of Christian Kuntner, they create an incredible amount of tension that demands the occasional swelling and burping playing by Torn to counterpoint. At the four minutes mark, the precise and weaving cage of guitars turns more peaceful, when Torn adds a single, sliding phrase. That glissando, facing the metronomic clarity of the Swiss quartet, creates one of the single most intense moments of their collaboration. 

Created in a single five-day marathon in 2019, Tranceportation has been released in two separate volumes, one in November last year and another in June this year. Many things have changed between the two releases. The single musicians continue to explore new possibilities, like David Torn in his recent amazing solo Fur/Torn or Stephan Thelen, who will be releasing a string quartet work later this year, again on RareNoise. Still Tranceportation Vol. 2 is so deeply complex, that it is only listener’s ear to change, finding new pathways each time, after each listening.

Sonar with David Torn – Tranceportation Vol. 2

1 Triskaidekaphilia (9:45)
2 Tranceportation (12:42)
3 Slowburn (10:02)
4 Cloud Chamber (9:40)

David Torn electric guitar, live looping
Stephan Thelen tritone guitar
Bernhard Wagner tritone guitar
Christian Kuntner tritone bass
Manuel Pasquinelli drums, percussion

Produced by Sonar with David Torn.
Recorded „live in the studio“ April 29 – May 3, 2019, at Mazzivesound


Samuel Hällkvist – Epik, Didaktik, Pastoral (BoogiePost Recordings, 2020)

Like a trip through the nature, through the branches intertwining, creating an infinite network, a polyrhythmic configuration nearly impossible yet entirely real quoting the liner notes, Epik Didaktik and Pastoral is a joyous, kaleidoscopic glance through a myriad of looking glasses. Mixing indie, progressive rock, japanese music influences, jazz, postminimal repetitions and an unexpected palette of sounds that recalls the fourth world music by Jon Hassell as well as 80s King Crimson, Danish guitarist Samuel Hällkvist creates a new relevant chapter to add to his discography. Reflective, yet humbly audacious, everything in this album gently conjures to make the listener move through a net of spiralling rhythms. 

The longtime partner Knut Finsrud at drums plays a key role in keeping a dancing flow through the inctricate score of Vägem som landet or Dekorum I: hog. Meshuggah‘s Dick Lovgren at bass delivers deep rhythms and juicy solos, like in the opening track, alternating with Anne Marte Eggen who is a member of Hällkvist‘s like band that released Live volume earlier this year. British acclaimed trumpter Yazz Ahmed, whom Hällkvist plays regularly with, delivers his gently bouncing phrasing. Luca Calabrese adds Hassell-like nuances to the upbeats in Utan Vilja , jumping back and forth, behind and ahead the beat. Katrine Amsler provides her array of unexpected sound programming that contributes to the eerie of the work.

Guitar is never pivotal, yet is more the rhythmic texture itself to take the center of the stage: try Badboll Gles as an example of this approach, a gently piano-based contemporary jazz mixed with balinese influences. Or Dekorum III: låg, a sort of uncanny trip through revolving doors, each opening through a different evolution of the starting pattern. 

There’s a sense of intimate playfulness and enjoyment through the complex scores of intricate themes. It’s an ever evolving net of rhythmic modulations, that ultimately forces the listener to sit and watch the evolutions more and more, like looking at a pastoral landscape.

Samuel Hällkvist – Epik, Didaktik, Pastoral


Samuel Hällkvist, guitars, MIDI programming
Knut Finsrud, drums
Dick Lövgren, bass (1,3,5,6,7,8,10)
Katrine Amsler, sound design, programming (1,7,8,10) Anne Marte Eggen, bass (2,4,9)

Yazz Ahmed, trumpet (1,3)
Luca Calabrese, trumpet (2,6)
Noel Langley, additional trumpet (1,3)


Thor de Force – The Build (Ropeadope, 2020)

What I love about Thor de Force, nickname of Chicago born, Danish resident guitarist Thor Madsen, is how he mixes hip-hop roots with jazz through the lens of a masterful studio producer, in a completely unique way. There’s an highly crafted work in balancing each nuance, in blinking an eye to latest revival of big synths as well as to Curtis Mayfield, from electric jazz to catchy hip hop. Elegantly refined music, ‘world’ in a certain sense, like in his latest release The Build.

Following up his Sound of the Mansion, which marked his first release on Ropeadope, Thor de Force now focuses more on funky roots, yet keeping the same organization in producing his tunes. Sketched vamps, that might not evolve in anything but a self reflection or hint to a song with occasional choruses. Take Undo I, a track that feeds in that kind of mesh up of jazz that musicians like Makaya McCraven and Jeff Parker among the others are looking at. Still Thor de Force wants to look at it from the angle of something in between the pure song and the vamp. Or similarly take the languid Essence Omnipresence. Between juicy wah-wahs and Wurlitzer intermissions, it’s always a pleasure to listen to the arrangements interacting with the congas of Mads Michelsen and the drums of Abdullah S, like in New Stella.

I started writing material for the new album around Christmas of 2018 just after finishing Sounds Of The Mansion. I put more emphasis on the writing process before recording live instruments and decking out the tracks than was my usual practice. Compositional and sonic clarity was a main focus -says Thor de Force. And that kind of immediacy is palpable in The Build.

Thor de Force – The Build

1.Machinuck 01:47
2.62 Avenue C 03:14
3.Majestic Spectacle 03:35
4.Undo I 02:27
5.Essence Omnipresence 03:16
6.New Stella 03:00
7.Fifth Heaven 03:47
8.Rug That Ties The Room 02:58
9.Inner Game 02:30
10.Out Of Itself 03:22
11.Blue Bear 02:55
12.Spiral Knowledge 03:16

Thor Madsen: Guitar, Bass, Synths, Grand Piano, Wurlitzer, Celeste, Pump Organ, Percussion, Programming
Abdullah S: Drums (3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11)
Mads Michelsen: Steel Pan (7) Congas (6, 7), Bongos (6, 7, 10), Shakers (6, 7)
Stunn Gunn: Drums (2, 7)
Liss Wesberg: Trombone (4, 6, 7, 9)
Benjamin Kissi: Vocal (10)
Boe Larsen: Grand Piano (10)