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Gordian Knot Emergent

By Vinnie Apicella, Contributor
Monday, February 17, 2003 @ 12:02 AM


(Sensory Music)

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There was something that struck me as I read along the press release while listening to GK’s second all instrumental. Sean Malone, bass and stick man -- “stick” operating much as would the bass or guitar, only the strings are tapped, not plucked, to achieve a more percussive and broader sound -- and we’ll call him “Project Manager” here, as rightful organizer of the latest GK collaboration, only don’t suggest it’s only a “project…” A noteworthy piece of description from Malone followed: “There is structure similar to vocal music where you expect verses and choruses, though the verses are through-composed solo sections, and choruses retain an integrated melodic framework…” Ah, simple then. Let’s do instrumental music and give more headway to the instrumentation. Okay, then strike the equal balance of technical tactics from within, so as to justify an all-instrumental performance in the first place… Sounds easy, but then why aren’t more bands doing it? We all know they could play, why not pull in the reigns, pattern the playing to the song, and save the solos for scenery? But then are we still doing Progressive music?

Anyway, “Emergent” initiates the discussion firstly, and all throughout the eight tracks, that are of a generally mid-range to slow variety, and answer themselves in a usually systematic way -- but then when we’re running rates of six to eight and beyond, there’s only so many places to duck under. “Arsis” is a mild intro track which leads into “Muttersprache,” a mixed bag all its own; beginning with bludgeoning guitar riffs and siren-like harmonics, it soon avails to a quieter lull of keys and progressive effects. “A Shaman’s Whisper” starts similarly with choppy riffs and offbeat drumming, while the solo plays above and next thing, you’re rising like a bird in flight for one of the more convoluted guitar tracks on the disc. It’s also one of more melodically crafted pieces that’s both tranquil and troublesome and also noteworthy in marking the first grouping of the former band Cynic for which Malone once played bass.

For a good example of the previously mentioned Stick instrument, track five, a “live” version of “Grace” features Malone and his instrument of choice for a beautifully presented song that holds up surprisingly, well, ‘til the faucet drip effect becomes too much to handle four or five minutes later and next… “The Brook The Ocean” seems to follow the grammatically poor character of the title; featuring an early indication of jazzed up Prog-rock, it soon slowly gives way to an undersea speak sound-alike by way of amplified bass thump that again yields to the returning utility man Malone, donning bass, guitar, keys, and loop effects for this disquieting example of untypical limb stretching.

Such continues further on for the eighth and final, “Singing Deep Mountain,” where the full ensemble of guests return to raise the stakes again for this tranquil and trippy exodus that collects momentum as it gathers steam, reshaping and restarting itself at two or three minute intervals, here, closing out in a rising crescendo of mass continuum. It’s always touch and go it seems with the many Progressive music projects that come and go these days. The fact their last self-titled did in excess of 12 grand’s not a small achievement; I haven’t heard it but it featured similar but different contributing musicians from the perfect pitch community, but I can definitely suggest this one’s more rambunctious than most, and finds a flood of different styles competing for attention off and again, giving the extra boost of excitability factor that’s quickly shorn by slimmer margined solo-ism techniques.

Features: Bill Bruford, Jim Matheos, Paul Masvidal, Jason Gobel, Steve Hackett, and Sean Reinert.

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