Gordian Knot - "Emergent"
(Sensory 2003, SR3016)

From Aural Innovations #23 (April 2003)

I normally don’t like to compare a new release to the previous releases, but in this case I think it’s important to do so. Let’s put this cd into historical context. The first Gordian Knot cd was an incredible piece. A collective of incredible musicians all centered around the playing and writing of Sean Malone (bass, Chapman Stick). While it has since come to be labeled as technical prog, it never sacrificed melody for technique. It has a very fresh sound, accompanied with absolutely monster playing. It’s an absolutely overpowering cd.

So that brings me to ‘Emergent’. On first listening, I thought: sophomore slump. In fact, a number of folks pointed out to me that it just was not as good as the first one. I gave that some thought and took a bunch more listens.

The core group of ‘Emergent’ consist of Sean (bass, Chapman Stick, keys), Jason Göbel (guitar), and Bill Bruford (drums). Rounding out the sound is, Steve Hackett (guitar), Jim Matheos (guitar), Paul Masvidal (guitar) and Sean Reinert (drums). For a quick pedigree list: Bill Bruford is well, uh, Bill Bruford. Steve Hackett played with Genesis and recorded a number of solo pieces and Jim Matheos comes from Fates Warning. Sean Malone, Jason Göbel, Paul Masvidal, and Sean Reinert all worked together in the band Cynic.

Back to the review. I think ‘Gordian Knot’ is so indelibly etched in my mind, that I was unprepared for Sean to do anything else. In point of fact, ‘Emergent’ is very typical of Sean’s writing and playing. Even though it’s the newest, that does not automatically put it in competition with ‘Gordian Knot’. It’s just the newest string of ideas.

Very simply, ‘Emergent’ is a gorgeous blend of fast intricate bass and Chapman Stick lines, heavy, heavy distorted guitar riffing, and admirably restrained Bill Bruford drums. The playing is quite well done. Fast or slow, everyone stands out. With these guys, it seems that every note is an event to be savored. Even though it’s a bit on the heavy metal side, no one is buried and there is no overpowering mix. The compositions are melody oriented and there is no real flash for the sake of flash. After a bunch of listens, I’m getting the payoff: simply wonderful.

For more information you can visit Sean Malone's web site at: http://www.seanmalone.net.
Emergent is distributed by Sensory, a sub-label of The Laser's Edge. You can visi their web site at: http://www.lasercd.com.

Reviewed by Louis Hesselt-van-Dinter

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