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Emergent

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(17 Reviews)

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  • 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.

    Posted on March 16, 2010