Sean Malone is a master at what he does. His skill is unsurpassed, and he shines like a supernova on Emergent. This is one of the finest examples of progressive rock you will likely ever hear. Hard to classify, and impossible to take out of your CD player, Emergent is an unbelievable album. By surrounding himself with some of the finest musicians on the planet, Bill Bruford, Steve Hackett..etc…Sean Malone has crafted a record that demands multiple listens. This is a technically perfect collection of music, from the hypnotic and cathartic Muttersprache to the staggeringly beautiful Grace, every song on this disk is a masterpiece. The musicianship put forth on Emergent is a perfect example of musical synergy, these guys can play. Without sparring back and forth for solo time Malone and crew weave intricate patterns and play off of each other so well at times it seems like they are a single entity. Every music fan should own this album. If you don’t, get it now. You won’t be disappointed.
In 1999, former Cynic bassist Sean Malone startled the metal and progressive rock world with the self-titled debut release from his Gordian Knot project. Featuring a lineup of renowned musicians it blurred the distinction between rock and metal – Gordian Knot is a defining statement for the genre. Featuring Malone joined by members of King Crimson, Dream Theater and Watchtower. Three years in the making, Gordian Knot’s follow-up release, Emergent, pushes the envelope even further. Sean Malone is once again surrounded by a stellar cast including Jason Gobel, Bill Bruford, Steve Hackett, Jim Matheos and more. Sensory/Laser’s Edge. 2003.
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This is my first purchase of a CD in 2003 – And what a CD it is! This is just what the doctor ordered to start up the year! If you don’t have this yet – get it now! It is brilliant! Exceptional! Sean Malone has it for sure. Also nice to see Hackett and Bruford working together again on a modern, non-nostalgic effort, shows that these guys still have it too. Jason Gobel and Jim Matheos play fantastic also. If you are a guitar player you should definately check this out. This CD smokes & burns with superior musicianship and writing!
Beautifully written, flawlessly executed, Sean Malone’s second Gordian Knot project “Emergent” is a stunning achievement. Once again, he has assembled a top-notch lineup (including notables Bill Bruford, Jim Matheos, and Steve Hackett, along with various Cynic alumni), and the excellence of the results simply cannot be understated. Malone has a talent for constructing compositions that are, first and foremost, beautiful, and the virtuosity of the respective musicians is at all times carefully directed towards the greater good of the composition. This is most clearly reflected in the solos, which are never about anything more than advancing the composition itself.For those who are familiar with the first Gordian Knot project, this one is a bit heavier, largely a result of replacing Trey Gunn’s Warr guitar with a greater emphasis on the guitars of Hackett, Matheos, Jason Gobel, and Paul Masvidal on one track. But in many ways this is a strength of this album, which has a more organic feel than the first. If this album is to be compared to anything, it perhaps fits best with some of the finest offerings of the classical genre.But even these comparisons fail. This album is an absolute masterpiece, a stunning work that demands attention. I recommend Emergent in the strongest possible terms; among the hundreds of albums in my collection, I can think of none that I would recommend above it. You do yourself a service, and support an emerging musician of the highest caliber, by ordering it immediately.
I very rarely call any album absolutely perfect, but the mysterious entity known as Gordian Knot has practically redefined the term. The first album from Sean Malone’s exquisite brainchild was a stunning instrumental work that I’m still hearing new things in, and somehow this disc has managed to top even that. Incredible, dynamic, masterful, a mind-expanding sensory journey for the ears: I could throw out descriptions all day and not quite convey the sheer absolute brilliance that is Emergent.Ok – that last sentence may be exaggerating a little, but this is unquestionably an album that instrumental rock or jazz fans (or anyone who appreciates incredible composition when they hear it) will be sorely lacking if they don’t hear. I’m almost lost for words. The instrumentation is plain – guitars/bass/keys – but the execution covers part of the rock, metal and jazz camps all at once. It’s heavy, it’s ambient, it’s forceful enough to shake some walls if played loud (slightly heavier overall than the first), but sprinkled with a few moments of peaceful brilliance so gorgeous they have to be heard to be believed. Case in point – a live version of the previous disc’s closer, “Grace,” enhanced with layers on layers of Chapman Stick that build higher and higher to the heavens. It’s one of the most rapturous things to be heard on this earth. On the other end of the spectrum: “Muttersprache” and “A Shaman’s Whisper,” a crazed mix of furious guitars and driving beats – though still lightened with some moments of rest before the next storm comes. GK is full of fireworks, but fireworks of the most sublime kind: they’re found in otherworldly performances and phenomenal compositions, and any instrumental pyrotechnics add to the whole subtly, not with wild abandon.In 54 minutes (or 50 on the American edition) this disc runs a wider gamut of tones than I even expected: “Arsis,” two minutes of calm solo bass. “Some Brighter Thing,” a slowburn of sweeping grandiosity that stays ineffably down to earth throughout. “Fischer’s Gambit,” slow moody half-funk with a Mediterranean edge, courtesy of some masterful acoustic guitar. “The Brook The Ocean,” a wild ride that goes from calm to frenzy and back again without blinking an eye. That track inevitably seems like more of an intro since it wanders off into a Bill Bruford drum solo without resuming (and quite a head-spinning solo it is, just try to count to it!), but it’s all right, since the thing it leads into is “Singing Deep Mountain” – a masterpiece in itself, and possibly the most wonderful GK track ever. This is the one that’s got it all. Slow-building grooves. Wild surges of soaring guitars. Rock-solid bass work that’s a gem of harmony all its own. It’s even got vocals, wordless “aah”s that provide the perfectly sweet topper for everything else. Then it fades into more of that heavenly ambience, spending the last minute in utter blissful peace.I guess that’s a good way to end the disc, but if you’re obsessed enough to pop for the Japanese edition, you’re also treated to the brilliant “Surround Me” as a bonus. This one is four extra minutes of rock beats and crunchy guitars weaving in a fluid jazz mode, and every bit as worthy as the regular tracks. Too bad it’s a rarity.Any more words from me will be redundant to those who’ve heard this marvel already, and inadequate for those who haven’t. Listen, enjoy and discover for yourself.
It’s been a long wait for _Emergent_, which was delayed (and delayed!) for a long time before finally being released. Now that I have it, I can definitely say it is everything I expected it to be and more. While similar to Gordian Knot’s first release, _Emergent_ is far more realized and astonishing. Fluid, heavy, bold – so pure in manifestation that it is nothing less than genius.Although Gordian Knot was a project initiated by Chapman Stick player and bassist Sean Malone, it would be a mistake to credit the album’s brilliance solely to him. Malone has recruited an amazing team of musicians, but they are embraced into this project rather than performing as session players. The chemistry between these musicians is so dense its like gasoline fumes distorting the air. Songs unfold in a musical arena where each player listens and adapts to the others, baiting with challenges and responding to twists. The music is clearly composed, but it has that spontaneous tension and exuberance of improvisation. You cannot describe this music in a nutshell. Different styles of music are so seamlessly integrated that picking them out is basically impossible. You really just have to listen. The instrumental interplay is so tight Robert Fripp would probably stop and take notice. _Emergent_ is heavier than _Gordian Knot_ was, but not really in a “metal” kind of way.Consider the lineup: Sean Malone (bass, Stick, keys, guitar), Bill Bruford (drums, percussion), Jason Gobel (guitars), Sean Reinert (drums, percussion), Steve Hackett (guitars), Pat Masvidal (guitars), Jim Matheos (guitars). Careful, you’re drooling. Solos are abundant: the album probably has around 30 in its 53 minutes, but they don’t “feel” like solos — they are merged into the total compositional framework in such a way that it all feels surreally organic. Gordian Knot is anything but a showcase of exhibitionism. The music here is a perfect balance of structured backdrops and individual freedom so perfectly realized that both elements overlap with one another and become indistinguishable. The symbiosis of all musicians involved is probably the most entrancing part of _Emergent_. Featuring all the members of Cynic, “Muttersprache” cultivates the affinity between their jazz tradition and an almost atonal metallic flail… which alternates with the pure lunar energy of the gorgeous middle section. Here, the V-cymbals are sparkles of distant starlight set against musical breaths and undulations across the ether. And when that one ascending melody comes in (you’ll know the one) it is impossible to allay shivers. In “Fischer’s Gambit”, with absorbing curls of rhythm and Jim Matheos’ proto-andalusian guitar cadences. A deep rhythmic tension intensifies these placid expressions, giving the song a desperate, edge-of-the-seat excitement even while slow and beautiful. “A Shaman’s Whisper” is a fusion crunch-monster, rife with jaw-dropping guitar interplay and rendered amusingly exotic by the complex, alien melodies and worldly drumming of Bill Bruford. On this track, Reinert performs on the kit and Bruford is heard on slit drum for a dual-percussive quality which you have to love.For the best example of the magic chemistry shared between Malone and Bruford, the riveting neo-jazz of “The Brook The Ocean” cannot be topped. Where Malone and Bruford share an intense rhythmic collegiality, trading off solos before coming together with a dazzling violence.The soft-piano intro of “Some Brighter Thing” does not warn you that a slamming dissonance is about to gush from your speakers. The band comes together at last for some complex prog-like melodies and deep crunch. The main theme of this track is slippery and spine-tingling. “Singing Deep Mountain” builds on and on until the breaking point at around 7:00, where Steve Hackett’s devastating guitar solo unleashes a wave of dense rhythm and sublime, wordless vocal melodies (quite electronically processed so they barely sound like vocals). Unless you get the Japanese edition, _Emergent_ ends there. If you’re insane and get the Japanese import (like me…insanity is cool), you are blessed with the fortune of listening to the sublime “Surround Me”, which is largely a Jason Gobel composition, peppered with sparkling arpeggios and graceful, articulate bass playing. There is a live version of “Grace”, which was the last song from the first Gordian Knot album. There is no audience noise so it doesn’t detract from the album’s atmosphere. It is a solo performance featuring Sean Malone, honestly it approximates visual art. It’s easy to soak in the celestial atmosphere but paying attention to the sonic richness here reveals the beauty of texture and ambience that Malone is capable of creating on his own. Equipped with the mighty Stick and an Echoplex, he ingeniously creates so much layer you’d believe three or four musicians are up on that stage. This halcyon performance is the most sublime moment on the album and one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. Brilliant, challenging, complex, and truly progressive — _Emergent_ is one of the best albums ever and I get the feeling there will be no better album released this year. (surprises are always possible, though…)