Title - ‘Sontaag’ (Esoteric Recordings)
Artist - Sontaag
Sontaag - Richard Sontaag (instruments, composition, concept, co-production) and Ian Fortnum’s (story, lyrics, voice, concept) - have just-released their self-titled debut; a progressive effort centered around a sci-fi narrative. Indeed, in what the guys themselves describe as an “epic, trans-media hybrid” and a work in which “sonic cinema meets e-book, pod-lit in cyberspace,” Sontaag the album is a prog concept album that ranks very highly with those that know these things.
Believe me, from the off this album encapsulates all there is to be musically had when it comes to such other albums of its ilk. We begin with a rather ambient intro complete with 70’s synths and the background of rainfall, before Fortnum’s spoken word narrative is upon us. Said narrative speaks of the inhabitants of the planet MP-5 who seemingly need to provide harmonic, ambient music for “The Great Harmodulator.” To those not in the know this is a huge machine created by the Ancients which can synthesize energy from harmonic sound and reanimate extinct planets! Hey, I’m just telling you what I hear, nothing more!
Moving on and the album powers along like a speeding train on an ever-decreasing track, bringing us two serious rock opera moments in both ‘Spaceshifter’ and ‘Interstellar Genocide.’ With production courtesy of Killing Joke’s Youth, you can definitely see his influence as the album progresses. Inclusive of other more intense tracks such as ‘The Minor Keys Of Anguished Weeping,’ ‘Serena Serenarum (Parts 1, 2 & 3),’ and ‘The Skull-Scraping Caterwaul,‘ Sontaag the album is chock full of 70’s-esque distorted guitar work and frenetic drum beats.
Although it has to be said that the change of pace in ‘Glissandor’ - where flamenco style guitar is melded with some bouts of xylophone - is still left of center, but rather appreciated. Anyway, with the definitive musical highlight of the album being the epic closing track, ‘Memoria Tenere,’ Sontaag the album is one for the ages; these ages, for sure.