Gordian Knot
Gordian Knot



by Dancin' Man USER (40 Reviews)
January 16th, 2005 | 72 replies

Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Gordian Knot is the brainchild of Sean Malone, formerly of Cynic. It is him along with other amazing innovators in the prog metal genre playing what they want, how they want.

Sean Malone (Cynic) Ė Bass, Stick, Keys
Sean Reinert (Cynic) Ė Drums, Tabla
Trey Gunn (King Crimson) Ė Warr Guitar
Ron Jarzombek (Watchtower/Spastic Ink) Ė Guitar
Glenn Snelwar Ė Guitar, acoustic guitar
John Myung (Dream Theater) Ė Stick

This is a serious all-star line-up.

Iíll explain ďStickĒ. It was invented by Emmett Chapman and is often called the Chapman Stick. That is what I first heard it as when I went to a Blue Man Group concert and had my uncle (a retired hair metaler) explain it to me. It is a 10 string guitar that uses both hands to tap around instead of using a pick like a normal guitar. For more information go to [url]http://www.stick.com/[/url]

A Warr Guitar is a 12 string guitar similar to a Chapman Stick except that it uses 6 bass strings and 6 guitar stings. Trey Gunn is probably the most well known player of a Warr guitar and is also the only person to have their own artist model. For more information go to [url]http://www.warrguitars.com/[/url]

Tabla is a percussion instrument from northern India used to accompany the sitar. Danny Carey of Tool plays this instrument too as does his teacher, Aloke Dutta. There is the Dayan and the Bayan (Right and left hand drums). The Dayan is about 2/3 the diameter of the Bayan.

Just under 1 hour

Galois, the album begins with a soundscape of squeaks and squeals and low drones. Itís pretty interesting but nothing special. Good opener. Code/Anticode though, launches you straight into the guitars. An interesting riff is quickly joined by the rest of the band. This being an instrumental album, the band has to keep changing and playing interesting parts to keep things interesting. They do an excellent job. There is an interesting jazz/fusion type section in this song and the really do a nice job showing what youíll get. There is lots of riffing but also lots of mellower soundscapes. This is a pretty jazzy song and you only get a taste of the metal to come.

Reflections begins with a great chord progression and you can hear the metal. A nice part about the album is how they arenít afraid to really use every player. These guys are great and do a great job playing what they know how to. Glenn Snelwar did most of the writing on this track and it shows. He is the resident classical/acoustic guitar player and has a nice repeated riff that really holds this track together. Another jazzy track but leaning more towards metal. Megrez begins much like the album with a feedback/noise soundscape that flows into some slow riffing. One of the mellowest songs on the album. The bass in this song is killer.

Singularity is a strange track. Very metal but with a Hammond organ sound in the keys. Itís nice how you can sort of tell whoís playing what. I have a strong feeling that the solo here is Ron Jarzombek. In fact every time I hear a shred solo, I have a feeling itís him because I donít know if pinch harmonics can be done on a Chapman stick. There are also stick solos though that are really cool. This is a very solo-y song. A great part is the rhythm shaker part. You know the little eggs with sand in them? Yeah, those. This a an excellent song. Itís a great one to know what this CD really sounds like. Redemptions way should be named the Tabla song. Itís so cool. This is another great song. Sort of a tradition on this album it seems.

Komm SŁsser Tod, Komm Sel'ge was actually written by Bach but Gordian Knot made it their own. It does feel a bit too slow and gets cheesy. In my opinion, the worst song on the album, worse than Galois and that isnít even a real song. Rivers Dancing is an excellent one though. Very atmospheric and quickly tears into some great riffing. There is a trade off part where Iím not sure who but I suspect John Myung and Sean Malone switch back and forth. Same sound on the instruments and they both play stick, but I canít be sure. The song takes a great break to slow down and present more melody then picks up again, then slows down again. The song ends somewhere in the middle.

Srikara Tal has a very Middle Eastern/Indian feel. I definitely like it. It is also the longest song on the album by almost 2 minutes. I have a feeling it is Glenn Snelwar who does the imitation of Sitar just because of what I read on his website. He seems to be the most versatile guitarist in terms of style. This song is a must for Tool fans. It uses the slow build to heavy formula and is very reminiscent of the Reflection/Disposition/Triad section. The song could get repetitive but there are lots of little changes throughout. It takes the last 45 seconds to die down and fade away.

Grace, an apparently hidden track, begins with some acoustic guitar sounds but they have a strange tone so I think itís probably a Stick through an acoustic simulator pedal. This song has that cheesy positive feel of 80ís easy listening. Iím not really a fan. About halfway through, it begins to sound like church music which is much more interesting especially with the organ sounds. The song finishes in that style.

The semi track by track.

Recommended tracks
Rivers Dancing

This album is great but has a few spots where it sound really cheesy. Itís unfortunate too because the rest of it sounds so good. The musicians all come together really well though and when the songwriting is good, which is most of the time, they sound amazing.


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user ratings (141)

Comments:Add a Comment 
December 25th 2004


So far I've only heard "Reflections", which I'm very impressed with. I'm really starting to dig this stuff. Very good review FF I'm gonna get this and Emergent:D

Dancin' Man
December 25th 2004


Thank you. I spent a while researching the instruments (as I hope you can tell)

December 25th 2004


I must congratulate you on this review, excellent work

December 26th 2004


Good review, kept from being very good by the big block paragraph style Only hole I can pick that isn't opinion is that the Stick isn't necessarily 10 strings. You can get several different breeds of Stick, and the Grand Stick has twelve. I don't know if he's playing a Grand Stick here, but I think he does most of the time.

Anyway, this is an excellent album. I think I prefer it to Emergent, though that may be just for sentimental reasons (Reflections and Singularity were the first two Gordian Knot songs I heard, and the former remains one of my favourite songs of all time). I'm not too bothered by this cheesiness you talk about, either, and not just because I'm a fan of Manowar-style cheese. I simply don't think it is all that bad; Sean Malone seems to be able to pull off feel-good cheese without annoying me. For example, in the last track proper of his solo album, there's feel good acapella "na na nana"s over the music, but it doesn't sound cheesy, it just sounds right.

Anyway, enough rambling. Good review, excellent album.

December 26th 2004


Good review of one of the best prog-metal albums around. I don't listen to it nearly enough.

December 26th 2004


I think Grace is entirely Sean Malone and Stick, I also think that ending music of Grace sounds way better when Sean used it for Frames on the Aghora cd.

The stick sound gets easier to pick after a while, due to the way it's played (hammer-ons and pull-offs) it doesn't have the same attacky sound at the start like a guitar. It also seems to have a more rounded waveform if that's something you can visualise.

I find this cd harder to listen to in places and so I prefer Emergent. And if anyone's interested the bonus track from the Japanese version "Uniguity Road" is a jazzy piece, but it seems very random and in my opinion, it's one of GK's worst songs. I almost always skip it when it comes on.

Cool review, but please break it up into paragraphs.

[QUOTE=Bartender]For example, in the last track proper of his solo album, there's feel good acapella "na na nana"s over the music, but it doesn't sound cheesy, it just sounds right.[/QUOTE]
Same as in Sing Deep Mountain (best GK song IMO).

December 26th 2004


Rivers Dancing is one of my favourite songs of all time, though I have yet to get this album. I'll try to track it down before I spend all of my Christmas money. Good review, though try to break it up into paragraphs a bit. Sean Malone and Sean Reinert are musical heroes of mine, and the rest of the lineup isn't exactly bad. :P

Dancin' Man
December 26th 2004


fix'd for Bartender. It's the semi track by track. Like PAAA's reviews but not as good.

Per Ardua Ad Astra
December 30th 2004


[QUOTE=Fast Fingers]fix'd for Bartender. It's the semi track by track. Like PAAA's reviews but not as good.[/QUOTE]


Good review man, good job on the instruments. I'm with blue though, I prefer Emergent.

December 30th 2004


The (Instrumental Prog Metal/Jazz/Rock) part of the title made me immediately think of Cynic, and it seems rightly so ;) . I love Cynic's album Focus, even though I haven't played it in years.

Very nice review, I'm very interested in hearing their music, so another band added to my todo list... (I wish I never found these forums -- too much stuff to check out!).

Dancin' Man
June 24th 2005


How did this get bumped without a post? Apparently I submitted this review after all the comments. Anyway, I still think this album is awesome. I prefer it over Emergent.

June 24th 2005


This sounds damn good. The stick instrument sounds very interesting. I think I might actually look into it and see what it's like to play.

I loved Cynic and can never argue with jazz/metal fusion. I need something by these guys. Right now. Very good review.

September 5th 2005


Album Rating: 4.5

just got this album . . . there's a definite "tribal/mystic" feel to it on a lot of the tracks, and i love it , 4.5/5 . . .

Dancin' Man
September 13th 2005


I lied. Everyone listen to Code/Anticode right now. It will win forever. The stick playing there is phenomenal.

May 18th 2006


Like many people, "Reflections" was the song that got me into Gordian Knot... And to this day it remains one of the best songs ever. It reminds me of Cynic's "Textures".

River's Dancing has the most chaotic,spiralling solo ever. No words describe how much I build up in anticipation waiting for that part...

Great review by the way Dancin man, I'd probably give this album a 4.5.... Some parts just seem lacking...

September 22nd 2006


This album gets better and better every time I hear it. Great review.

September 23rd 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I first heard them through Code/Anticode, then Reflections.

Every song on here is a masterpiece, including the two minute vignette "Komm Susser Todd, Domm Sel'ge". My favorite song at the moment is probably "Redemption's Way".

Phenomenal album, too bad the next album was a letdown. It made this album a whole lot better.

September 20th 2008


Album Rating: 4.0

I've been listening to this heaps together with the new Cynic, such an incredible album.

Digging: Moor Jewelry - True Opera

January 16th 2009


Album Rating: 3.0

Smells like wankery.

Not the Dream Theater variety, but the artsy type.This Message Edited On 01.16.09

January 16th 2009


Album Rating: 3.5

i actually was going to call my highschool band Gordian Knot, but then this cd was released. i was like wtf f u sean malone.

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