Star-studded projects often add up to very little, but Gordian Knot's eponymous debut turns out to be one of the best progressive rock albums released in the last years of the second millennium. And that's thanks to the fact that Sean Malone held onto the reins, guiding the project to its goal of finely crafted guitar-driven instrumental songs. Malone has a prog metal background, and so do most of his guests (Cynic drummer Sean Reinert, King Crimson guitarist Trey Gunn, Dream Theater bassist John Myung, along with Ron Jarzombek and Glenn Snelwar). And yet the album only has a couple of tracks that can be qualified as "metal" ("Rivers Dancing," "Singularity"). Everything else falls into the guitar craft of the likes of David Torn and Robert Fripp. "Galois" opens the set with a seductive soundscape. "Code/Anticode" is the album's main showcase, an intelligent prog rocker with a solid rhythm section and a catchy modal melody. "Reflections" manages to make a menacing metal verse and a classical guitar chorus walk hand in hand like two lovers. "Srikara Tal" and "Redemption's Way" work as a soloing frame over a slightly North African percussion backdrop. They feel a bit overstretched, but the guitar work adorning them is worth the extended durations. The album ends with "Grace," a delicate ballad played on the Chapman stick that dissolves into soundscapes to take listeners back to where they started. If it weren't for a couple of overlong or self-indulgent tracks, this album would be a masterpiece. As it is, it still deserves the attention of any guitar fan.
AllMusic Review by François Couture