Here is a short list (compiled by Sonar's main composer Stephan Thelen) with some of the key influences on their music:
1) King Crimson: Starless and Bible Black/Fracture (from the album Starless and Bible Black, 1974)
I listened to this album on LP in a record shop in Zürich when it came out in 1974. Accidently but significantly, the slightly confused lady working at Musik Hug put on side 2 of the album.
The music I then heard was definitely beyond anything that that young teenager could understand at the time, but it totally fascinated him and put a spell on him that has lasted up to this present day.
2) Yes/Chris Squire: The Fish (Yessongs, 1973)
This great piece has 4 key elements of Sonar's music : the odd-metered time signature, the guitar pattern played only using natural harmonics, the crisp & precise drumming and a monstrous bass sound.
Yessongs was probably my first musical true love.
3) Glenn Branca: Structure (1981)
Glenn Branca's multiple electric guitar ensemble was a very strong influence on Sonar, not so much the actual music but Branca's ideas about sound and alternate tunings.
4) Scorn/Mick Harris: Time Went Slow
Mick Harris is a master of dark and spooky instrumental music of the ambient kind and this track is one of his best.
5) Bela Bartok: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, String Quartet No. 4
Bartok is probably my favorite classical composer. The books on his music written by Ernö Lendvai were very important for my musical education.
6) Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians, Proverb, Different Trains
For me, Steve Reich is the most interesting minimalist. From him I learnt that the best compositions develop organically out of ONE single idea.
The ideas that Steve Reich based his early pieces on are so good that he hardly had to write any music.
7) Nik Bärtsch's Ronin: Modul 44, Modul 45 (Holon)
Nik lives very close to where I live in Zürich. In the first years of the new millenium, I became really interested in the minimal groove music of Don Li and the early Swiss minimal scene. The early phase of Nik's band Ronin (first a trio
, then a quartet, then a quintet) was very radical and immensely interesting. His second album for ECM, Holon, is arguably his best and these two tracks stand out.