Sonata Islands Kommandoh – Quasar Burning Bright

After their virtuoso tribute to After Dinner, Wha Ha Ha and the Haniwa Allstars. Giovanni Venosta and Sonata Islands offer a collection of 6 compositions of their own, with references – sometimes strong – to other music, but in their own way and with no concessions to musical fashion – or even genre – although, as the Kommandoh newly tacked to the end of the band name, indicates there are more than echoes of Magma (returning the compliment – back in the ‘80s Magma used to warm up their audiences with Roberto Musci and Giovanni Venosta’s classic Urban and Tribal Protraits). Elements of jazz, film music, and electronic noise here happily cohabit, and overlap, with occasional detours into the Twilight Zone.

ReR Megacorp



Every so often an album comes along that just hits the spot – it might be weird and diverse, but also strangely familiar. Quasar Burning Bright from Sonata Islands Kommandoh fits that bill. Led by Italian flutist and composer, Emilio Galante, the band consists of him along with Giovanni Venosta on keyboards and vocals, Alberto N. A. Turra on guitar, and Stefano Grasso on drums.

The group’s name invokes the French band Magma, and there certainly are some Zeuhl elements to be heard. In fact, the previous Sonata Islands Kommandoh release was a jazz take on Magma. But Galante mixes up the influences of Vander and company with electronics, glitch, improvisation, and experimentation. The writing is not overtly complex as much as it is unusual. The rhythmic structure comprises repeating themes that vary in pitch and angularity. Flutes take a leading role over these as well within tracks that are synth-driven and occasionally funky to the point of being almost danceable. There is no shortage of groove.

The album wraps up with a 12-minute piece, It Ain’t Necessarily So, that is perhaps the most experimental and Magma-influenced of the bunch. It features a choir, cosmic synths, and spacious orchestration of flute, keys, and drums. It puts a strange and beautiful ending on a compellingly oddball offering.

Mike (Avant Music News)   November 20, 2020



Tornano i guerriglieri da camera della Sonata Islands con una mezza dozzina di brani dal taglio obliquo e talvolta inquietante. Come ci racconta il chitarrista Alberto Turra il “motore principale, come già accaduto in passato per questa band, è stato Giovanni Venosta che insieme con Emilio Galante ha composto il tutto lasciandosi ispirare da un precedente lavoro di Stefano Greco (programmazione ed elettronica)”. Rispetto al passato (“Nippon Eldorado Kabarett” e “Zeuhl Jazz”) si registra un ulteriore mutamento nell’organico (oltre alla novità Greco, Stefano Grasso è alla batteria) e una maggiore propensione verso suoni più sintetici e allo stesso tempo duri e spaziali. Il sentimento jazz-rock alberga ancora consistente, però un po’ meno sovrano, e si notano curiose aperture verso il funk anni Settanta (le due versioni di Mod-D QBB), ovviamente destrutturato e assimilato alle altre sragionature del gruppo. E’ sempre istruttivo sottolineare il modo in cui uno strumento “debole” come il flauto di Galante possa coesistere con il resto della strumentazione, aprendosi a dialoghi propositivi e coerenti. Le tastiere di Venosta riescono a coprire un ampio territorio, promuovono inserti jazzistici quasi canonici oppure rinnovano a fondo l’art-rock d’epoca e interagiscono con la spessa elettronica di Greco nel creare trame granulari di elevata densità. L’esempio migliore della coesione raggiunta dal quintetto è la grandiosa ripresa della gerschwiniana It Ain’t Necessarily So, resa cosmica e ambient al masimo grado nonché provvista di un finale a sorpresa che trasforma il magma in lamento gospel.


Piercarlo Poggio (Blow Up) Marzo 2021



Sonata Islands Kommandoh – Quasar Burning Bright – weird & fantastic fusion from Italy

Sonata Islands Kommandoh is a hyper-eclectic ensemble founded by flutist and composer Emilio Galante in 1998. Switching genres, approaches and even core members with each project, the ensemble explores far-reaching territory from the worlds of jazz, classical, rock, experimental and – especially on their latest album “Quasar Burning Bright” – electronic music. Some of Sonata Islands Kommandoh’s ambitious past projects include “Torre Aquila,” a multimedia project with soloist Markus Stockhausen, “Sonata Islands goes RIO” with music by avant garde veteran Fred Frith, a jazz rewriting of “Das Lied von der Erde” by Gustav Mahler, and their first release for Chant Records, “Zeuhl Jazz”, dedicated to the spirit of legendary French progressive rock band Magma. “Quasar Burning Bright” finds the ensemble in top shape, seamless weaving modal sounds and free jazz with deep-groove funk, a touch of metal and a healthy dose of synthesizers and other electronics. The resulting sound is hinted at by the album’s title, the dazzling luminescence of an invisible and far distant star surrounded by both vast space and unexpected explosions.

Burl Veneer (Music)



De temps en temps, un album arrive et tombe à pic – il peut être bizarre et diversifié, mais aussi étrangement familier. Quasar Burning Bright de Sonata Islands Kommandoh répond à ce besoin. Dirigé par le flûtiste et compositeur italien Emilio Galante, le groupe est composé de lui, Giovanni Venosta aux claviers et au chant, Alberto N. A. Turra à la guitare et Stefano Grasso à la batterie.

Le nom du groupe évoque le groupe français Magma, et il y a certainement des éléments de Zeuhl à entendre. En fait, le précédent album de Sonata Islands Kommandoh était une version jazz de Magma. Mais Galante mélange les influences de Vander et compagnie avec l’électronique, les pépins, l’improvisation et l’expérimentation. En conséquence, l‘écriture n’est pas aussi complexe qu’inhabituelle.

La structure rythmique comprend des thèmes répétitifs qui varient en hauteur et en angularité. Les flûtes jouent un rôle prépondérant sur ces thèmes ainsi que sur les morceaux qui sont pilotés par un synthétiseur et parfois funky au point d’être presque dansantes et le groove n’y manquera pas.

L’album se termine par un morceau de 12 minutes, » It Ain’t Necessarily So », qui est peut-être le plus expérimental et le plus influencé par le magma de la bande. Il comporte un chœur, des synthés cosmiques et une orchestration spacieuse de flûte, de touches et de batterie. Il se termine sur une étrange et belle offrande de bizarreries.


No BS: Just Rock & Roll  21/11/2020