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Sculpting Sound into the Strange and Beautiful

Nous II "Review Downbeat (Feb 2020) 4.5 / 5 stars

NOUS is the brainchild of Christopher Bono, a roots-guitarist-turned-compositional dynamo whose work has found favor among classical, metal and prog audiences. After spending years developing his 2014 orchestral full-length, Bardo, he launched Nous as a ve- hicle for unbridled experimentation through communal musicianship; each incarnation of the project features a different conceptual starting point and a different set of musicians (improvisers Billy Martin and Kato Hideki. have taken part in previous configurations of the ensemble). But for Nous II (Our Silent Canvas 032; 47:16; 4.5/5 stars), Bono wrangled the same core players who appeared on 2014’s Nous I: drummer Greg Fox, multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily, percussionist Thor Harris and guitarist Grey Mcmurray, as well as an assortment of guests, including ambient pioneer Laraaji. Informed by post-rock, Nous II ranges from uplifting and majestic (“Here In My Chest It Is What It Is”) to caustic and anxi- ety provoking (“World Map One”), with plenty of vibrant textures and shapes in between. A worthy listen for anyone with an open mind and an unquenchable desire for music that can’t be categorized.