Sonar - "Celluloid"
(self-released 2008, SON314)

From Aural Innovations #40 (September 2008)

Sonar are a Hungarian quartet who play an all instrumental brand of rock that incorporates space rock, electronica, trance, progressive rock and some ethnic influences. The band consists of Bálint Szabó on guitar, Marcell Kovács on synths, samplers and Rhodes, and Balázs Csáky on bass, plus four different drummers credited on different tracks, though one of them, Bence Bolygó, must have come on board full time because he's listed in the lineup on the Sonar Myspace page.

After a brief intro of spacey electronic experimentation and the kind of off-kilter grooves that the Finnish band Circle defined, the music segues smoothly into "Peloton", which is a beautiful spacey, trancey melodic instrumental. Searing guitar licks, heart pounding bass and outstanding incorporation of electronics. And I like the way the band alternates between quieter ambient sections and heavier rocking parts, the latter bringing to mind a spaced out version of U2 with electronics added to the mix. Other highlights include the seductively melodic "Katamar", which works itself up to high levels of uplifting intensity. I really like the mixture of guitar styles that contrast in interesting ways with the electronics. "Weloce" is part head boppin' spaced out and funky dance piece and part intense and briefly dark doomy Prog, with just a wee bit of hip-hop scratching thrown in for good measure. Lots of thematic transitions that all come together nicely and all within the boundaries of a 5 minute piece. Impressive. "Central Station" is a deeply meditative but still melodic trance-ambient piece. But after a bit it starts to rock out in ways that really brings to mind fellow countrymen Korai Orom. "Deltroid" is one of the most high energy tracks of the set, mixing blazing and bubbling trip guitars with spaced out and totally freaky synths and in-yer-face drumming… these guys are on FIRE! "Üveg" features searing acidic rock and trippy grooving funk. And "Dubai" is another excellent high energy rocker that sounds like a space rock version of U2.

Sonar excel at composing solid melodic hooks and building various interesting rock and electronic constructions around them. Overall they strike me as a combination of U2, Porcupine Tree and Korai Orom. Stripped down to its basics the music would probably be classified in the mainstream press as "Alt-Rock". But with the addition of the electronics, spacey vibe, and imaginative compositional complexity, Sonar have created an enjoyable hour of meditative and rocking pleasure.

For more information you can visit the Sonar web site at:
Visit the Sonar Myspace site at:

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz

Here's another opinion.....

Sonar is a great new instrumental Hungarian band in the flavor of Colorstar and Korai Örom but with their own unique flavor. I am really into their new CD. All but one of the tracks from their debut CD-EP are included here in what I believe are rerecorded versions. Sound is very modern, clean and expressive. The band is 3 main guys (Bálint on Guitars, Marcell on programming, synths and Rhodes, and Balázs on basses). They are backed up by 4 different drummers on various tracks and two vocalists (who both only appear on tracks 3 and 9). The CD starts off with a very spacey beginning before taking off. Peloton starts things off and is a very synthesizer driven track. Very groove based but also quite spacey and electronic. Kalamar is next and starts more slowly and spacey but is a beautiful and melodic track with spacey guitar. The vocals come later in the track and are quite ethereal if you can recognize them at all. Welance will for sure remind you of Colorstar. It features a really nice synth solo at the end. Monofob starts slow and spacey but builds nicely and has some really cool delay guitar. Central Station, which was on the EP again, stands out as a great track. Such beautiful melodic guitar to accent the synthesizer drone until the sitar like synth takes over. Special ending. Deltroid starts with an intense synthesizer and some fast uptempo drumming as the delay guitar takes the song in another direction. After the cool heavy guitar riff kicks in this one gets very psychedelic and then suddenly sort of jazzy with some nice Rhodes piano but it is a short section and this is very much a guitar track. Üveg has perhaps the heaviest guitar on the record but it still maintains quite melodic and a little funky at times as well. They really work the synths into their music in a brilliant way, sometimes dominating and other times just accenting the music as is in this track. Popp has a guitar very much like Pink Floyd's Run like Hell that starts this track off but then it changes (although he does make use of a similar delay guitar). Nice melodic spacey track. Dubai, also from the EP, is next and one of the more uptempo and rocking tracks. Abstro ends the CD in a very harmonious and spacey way. I am not sure what it is I like about these tracks but they are all about 5 minutes long and just cool short melodic grooves that are interesting and spacey and just cool songs. Check this band out.

Reviewed by Scott Heller

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