Sonar is a progressive, post-minimal band from Switzerland. Their name stands for SONic ARchitecture. The band's music is always played live without any sequencers, loops or computers, using a minimum amount of equipment.
Besides being passionate musicians, SONAR’s four members Stephan Thelen (guitar), Bernhard Wagner (guitar), Christian Kuntner (electric bass) and Manuel Pasquinelli (drums) have backgrounds as diverse as performance art, software engineering, and mathematics, all adding to the eclectic mix of influences that make up this truly unique band.
The group SONAR was born in 2010. The two Zürich-based guitarists Stephan and Bernhard met one evening when Stephan was playing and Bernhard was in the audience. They immediately found that they shared many common interests, so it wasn’t long before they started playing together.
They key idea for the musical concept came, when Stephan remembered that he once tuned his guitar in tritones in order to perform a piece that otherwise would have been technically impossible to play. They found that the natural harmonics of this tuning had a very unique, mystic sound quality.
The next step was also rather bold, at least for these two individuals, who had played extensively with effects and loops all their life: they decided to put away all their electronic gadgets and concentrate on the clean sound of an electric guitar.
Further decisions were to radically concentrate on polyrhythms and isorhythms and to avoid intentional virtuosity in favor of group interplay.
Knowing that Sonar needed a very deep bass sound to counterbalance the high-pitched guitar harmonics, Stephan invited his friend Christian Kuntner from Radio Osaka, a band they had both played in.
Bernhard had met a young drummer, Manuel Pasquinelli, at one of Nik Bärtsch’s workshops, thinking that he would be the perfect drummer to play the polymetric beats that they were imagining.
At the end of their first rehearsal, it was perfectly clear that this project would be very exciting and that exactly the right people had found each other.
After about half a year of rehearsals, Sonar played a few concerts in Switzerland and went straight to the studio to record « A Flaw of Nature », an album that was released in 2012 on Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin Rhythm Records label. Thanks to Nik’s connections around the globe, Steve Feigenbaum, head of Cuneiform Records (USA) became aware of Sonar and eventually signed them to his label. Thanks to the wide distributional net of Cuneiform, Sonar’s 2014 album « Static Motion » and their 2015 follow-up « Black Light » (produced by David Bottrill) led to international acclaim, dozens of excellent reviews and concerts in the USA, UK, Germany, France, Austria, Rumania and (in 2017) Japan.