Gordian Knot

Berkeley, California, US
Artist / Band / Musician
Progressive / Nu-Jazz / Death Metal
Sensory Records
Gordian Knot is a collective unit that presents instrumental music which defies the typical shred-or-be-dead approach. Gordian Knots players, all consummate virtuosos, work together for the good of the song and an integrated end result. Solo spots are present, but they are well-placed within the more important body of the composition. Above all, Gordian Knot creates inspiring, memorable, coherent music with a high emotional charge. Though all players contribute something irreplaceable to the group, it is the vision of Sean Malone that sparks each songs creation.

Seans work over the years has spanned enormous sonic breadth. He has played as a session member for groups ranging from Brazilian jazz to English pop. One of his most remarkable achievements was as the recording/touring bassist for Floridian technical metal unit Cynic during their Focus period. Since their disbanding in 1994, Sean has continued as a studio bassist, performing on over fifty records to date. Throughout all this, he has authored two booksDictionary Of Bass Grooves and A Portrait of Jaco: The Solos Collectionfor the Hal Leonard Corporation. Seans work in the academic world is also remarkable, having had papers on theory and music cognition published, and given presentations at prestigious conferences such as the Society for Music Theory and The Glenn Gould Conference. He currently teaches Music Theory at the University of Oregon while he completes his Ph.D. Its a wonder he was able to write, assemble and record the self-titled Gordian Knot debut amidst all this activity. That record, released in 1998, saw Sean team up with luminaries like Sean Reinert (Cynic), Trey Gunn (King Crimson), Ron Jarzombek (Watchtower, Spastic Ink) and John Myung (Dream Theater). The album was not so much a showcase for Seans extraordinary capabilities on the bass and the Stick as it was a cohesive, focused, and balanced recording that featured his skills as a composer. Whether in a supportive or lead role, each member contributed to music that can only be described as a solid team effort. The music itself revolved around an esoteric axis, visiting spiritual, contemplative, and tense plateaus.

Now, in 2002, Gordian Knot is ready to present its second release, Emergent. Similar to the debut, Emergent is what Sean describes as instrumental music written from a vocal perspective. There is structure similar to vocal music where you expect verses and choruses, though the verses are through-composed solo sections, and choruses retain an integrated melodic framework. In other words, its not just jamming. However, being a band with a constant aim to move forward, there are some new textures and approaches to this album, as well. Sean: On this one, the compositional arc is larger. Its contains a wide gamut of textures, and theres a little more focus on melody, something to bring it all together.

To describe the performance level within Emergent, one need only look at the current incarnation of the group: Sean on bass, onetime Cynic bandmate Jason Göbel on guitar, and the legendary Yes/King Crimson drummer Bill Bruford. This is the trio Sean describes as the core group, with a mind-blowing array of guests helping to fill out the sound: Steve Hackett on guitar (Genesis), Jim Matheos on guitar (Fates Warning), and fellow Cynic players Paul Masvidal (guitar) and Sean Reinert (drums). Playing with these musicians is something Sean describes as simply incredible. Regarding Brufords participation, Sean describes what it felt like to weave his bass lines around the drum acrobatics of one of the crafts most highly-regarded talents: Bill Bruford is one of the most original, creative, and influential musicians in the genre. I grew up listening to Yes and King Crimson, and now to collaborate with him is something almost beyond description. Im not embarrassed to admit that as I reflect on our recording sessions, theres always some sense of disbelief. While recording, he described the music on this disc as the kind of music our fans wish King Crimson would write, only we havent gotten around to it. Im grateful he thought enough of the music to participate

Having the sound rounded-out by co-producer Scott Burnsknown largely for his work in early 90s extreme metalmakes the end result of Emergent something Sean and the rest of the members can rightfully be proud of. Theres no one more dedicated than Scott, I wouldnt think of trusting this project to anyone else. Though the music was recorded partly in Seans current hometown of Eugene, Oregon, several other studios were used when necessary. The smooth, unified, seamless feel of the entire album says a lot for the compositions and the chemistry between the players. One song that was recorded in Los Angeles, A Shamans Whisper, will be of particular interest to many, as it marks the first time all four Cynic members Sean, Paul Masvidal, Jason Göbel, and Sean Reinert have recorded together since 1993.

While one listen will convince, Sean feels that Gordian Knot deserves pause before labeling it as one of your typically thrown-together super-group albums that are quite common lately: This is a long-term project. A lot of thought and consideration goes into the music and whos playing on it. This is really a showcase for everybody, but its not just an excuse to simply play solos. This is a decidedly different kind of project; one that by necessity consists of many players, but by design aims to create multi-layered, integrated compositions.
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