Gordian Knot - _Gordian Knot_
(Sensory/The Laser's Edge, 1999)
by: Paul Schwarz (9 out of 10)
When I heard that Cynic members Sean Malone and Sean Reinert (bass / chapman stick and drums respectively) were collaborating on a project again, it is needless to say that I was intrigued and excited by what the result might yield. When I further found out that the project, masterminded by Malone, would not only be instrumental but also feature guitar/stick contributions from members of Dream Theater, Watchtower and King Crimson, my anticipation and interest were further heightened. I myself am pleased with the results this collaborative project have yielded. Atmosphere building is a concern and is achieved in some tracks by the use of well-manipulated keyboards, while at other times the interplay of guitars, drums and bass is all that is needed to carry the listener from one plain of exquisite musical beauty to the next. There is a considerable amount of experimentation, though less of a dynamic range (in terms of going from harsh to gentle) than was present with Cynic, especially with somewhat syncopated time signatures and technical, often beautifully melodic, guitar leads and overlapping acoustic and electric structures. One experimental aspect of the album is the part which also lets it down slightly for me. This is the use, on "Redemption's Way" and "Srikara Tal", of a drum machine producing a continuous, unabrasive tribal rhythm behind the interplay of guitar and bass, though Reinhert adds additional drum fills to the latter. This is different, but I find the machine-like feel it captures doesn't mesh well with the playing and, as the tracks progress, that one rhythm can really get to bore and slightly irritate me. These tracks are, however, minor let downs on an album which contains diverse and moving tracks like "Code/Anticode", "Reflections", "Singularity" and the track which harks back most to Cynic, "Rivers Dancing". The quality, not only of playing but also of writing, is excellent. Though it is evident that all the contributors to this project are of a standard technically that many can only dream of, none of this sounds "wanky": there is no self-indulgence at the sacrifice of musical quality. _Gordian Knot_ is a revealing and moving musical journey and one which I think anyone with a critical appreciation of music should allow themselves the pleasure of experiencing.

(article published 5/19/1999)


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