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Matt Tate's review of the SONAR concert at Reggie's in Chicago (28 August 2017).


I love SONAR. I've wanted to witness SONAR live since first hearing them upon the release of "Static Motion" (2014). Desperately so. It was very clear to me, this was a band that needed to be experienced in concert to fully appreciate the music's hypnotic potential, the ebb-and-flow of the compositions, the power of that rhythm section, and the trance-inducing potential of the music. It could easily be the soundtrack to an unmade David Lynch film - the car is driving through the dark, desert night, escaping an event that has just set the story into motion (a la Lost Highway). SONAR rewarded my intuition.

To watch SONAR perform is magnificent. They are fun to watch onstage because they are excellent, yes, but also because they are having so much fun playing. SONAR's music and physical stage presence are very intense. It's often also quite restrained. In this restraint lies their power. To my ears, it does. Their restraint allows them to "simmer" as the music shifts subtlely through innumerable permutations (OK, technically "numerable") creating ever-greater tension (and release and tension), so that when they "boil," they fucking BOIL!!!

What an honor it was for my band, Pavlov3, to open for SONAR at their Chicago concert at Reggie's on August 28th and finally meet these excellent musicians in person to find they're also excellent people.

The band members themselves are great fun to watch. Stephan rocks, sways, and bends in place. Manuel is most still (as spines often must) and most busy, as his hands and sticks remain very busy and dynamic. Christian is least contained among them, often lunging back and forth and wielding his bass like a piece of heavy construction equipment. Bernhard dances in place, bouncing his head to the ? notes, almost always with a wry grin, as though he's in on a joke only he knows the punchline to. They love what they do.

SONAR's music is very Complex. Algorithmic. Dynamic. Conceptual. Cerebral. Visceral. Danceable. Unique and utterly Gorgeous (Orbit 5.7). The ground feels as though it's continuously shifting beneath your feet in opposing directions as multiple motifs and (poly)rhythms flit about your head, circulating in different orbits, vying for attention as you struggle to maintain your balance. My adviceā€¦? Give in.

Static Motion
Orbit 5.7
Twofold Covering
Part 44
Critical Mass