The Rob Sbar Noesis
Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs
"Music creativity just got a kick in the ass his name is Rob Sbar. Fusion meets Jazz Rock with a heavy heaping of Prog elements all grace this superb first release from one of the world's truly creative musical innovators. No stranger to instrumental guitar, Rob has been showcasing his mind blowing chops and compositional genius since the tender age of 16. Since that time Rob has continued to study and learn a diverse arsenal of guitar techniques and compositional skills that put him at the forefront of today's best fusion virtuosos. As a guitarist of truly frightening skill, Rob has earned himself a Master of Arts degree in Music from Rutgers University. Rob has also studied under the tutelage of Greg Howe and world renowned composer Charles Wuorinen.
"Many styles can be heard throughout "Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs." This is extremely mature music played flawlessly with spirit and emotion oozing from every note. Many influential elements enter into Sbar music, ranging from eclectic jazz to progressive metal. Imagine Frank Zappa's mind combined with Allan Holdsworth's guitar skill and you start to get the picture of what you are in for. Rob is especially at home with fusion compositions that incorporate strong melody whilst also stepping outside of the box. His timing, emotional delivery and high virtuosity combine to make all of the tracks on "Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs" true guitar masterpieces. Rob Sbar is one of the most unusual guitar instrumental composers ever to grace our presence. Not since Vai or Gambale has there been such extraordinary sounds produced from the electric guitar.
"All the compositions found throughout "Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs" are written with a carefree spirit that takes the listener on an unbelievable journey into uniqueness. Never one to repeat himself Sbar seems to be able to pull mind numbing sequences and runs out of no where all the while keeping the main theme structure of each song flowing along like a well oiled gear. Sbar seems keen on keeping the listener a little off center he commands you to pay attention as he weaves his way through compositions with plenty of twists and turns. Highlights of the CD include:
"Lexical Gap" an avant-garde shred feast with its arpegiated sweep sequences and speed picking.
"16 Shades of Gray" a groove oriented track that incorporates a funk vibe and some cool fret board tapping.
"Media-Induced Paranoia" fusion meets prog slam fest with a pumping rhythm.
"Diet Soda, Chinese Food and a Single Yellow Daisy"- solid jazz offering with eclectic single note lines and odd meter rhythms.
"This entire CD should send out a shock wave of epic proportions to all musician/guitarists worldwide. Rob Sbar has transcended from somewhere not of this earth delivering one eclectic mix of beautifully strange and enjoyable tunes a masterpiece of originality and technical prowess!"
5 guitar picks "CD of the Month" - February 2003
Sea of Tranquility.org
"Holding a graduate degree in music composition from Rutgers University, and having studied with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Charles Wuorinen are not what make guitarist & composer Rob Sbar so impressive. These efforts may have honed his technical skills, but no amount of education could have given him the energy and passion that he demonstrates on Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs, the first CD release from The Rob Sbar Noesis.
"This is an exercise in musical drama. The extreme sounds of this rock-jazz fusion project are intensely cerebral, and visual beyond expectation. Sbar both gently massages, and emphatically attacks the guitar strings with the talent of guitar greats like Greg Howe and Steve Vai, creating a theatre of imagery that reveals new dynamic and subtlety with each listen."
"Nine tracks of dynamic instrumental composition fill this CD with complex musical experimentation that will keep your eyes, as well as your ears, open."
Score: 5 Stars
PROGNOSIS: Progressive Rock & Fusion
"Musically speaking, The Rob Sbar Noesis is something you really have not heard before. He is a shred styled guitarist that has a flare for dissonance, and awkward arrangements, sometimes bordering on the avant garde, yet never unaccessable, or incomprehensable. He shows that he is well trained in the more popular guitar shred trends, yet his purposes as a musician aligns with his vision for art and philosophy, and the typecasts are soon rendered useless, as he dabs inkblots over pastels, and creates intransigent compositions that are exclusively his own.
Imagine Zappa having actually learned modern fretwork techniques from his one time kid stunt guitarist Stevie Vai, and creating a guitar driven cd of instrumental musics inspired by Beefheart. This music is played with a slanted cacophonous purpose, intended to stimulate one's dopamine levels, leaving you to wonder, 'are they trying to do that?', cool!
This cd ventures far beyond the stigmas attached to virtuoso electric guitarists', so much so, that it really has little in common with the cluster of fretboard gymnasts that are being stamped out of the GIT factories everywhere. Rob Sbar, has much more depth of thought than to fall into such a convenient trap, his affinity for a sinister-minded creative approach makes this cd a very enjoyable piece for your aural, visual, and cerebral pleasure."- MJBrady
"... one of the most talented guitarists arisen in the last years in the United States, we are speaking of Rob Sbar."
- Sergio Vilar,
Quintessence Metal Webzine
"Rob is very talented and explodes on this CD and seems he has unrelenting control of his axe."
- Wayne Klinger
"Lexical Gap’ is a ferocious jazz shred attack that boggles the mind."
“The Rob Sbar Noesis "LEXICAL GAP" - Call the Jazz Asylum and tell them there's a maniac on the loose. This song blew me away with its funky foundation and molten shred. After cranking it up for the previous track I had to crank it even louder on this track. This guys dancing the fine line between genius and insanity, and beauty and brutality. Rob is a technical assassin with sniper like accuracy.”
" ... Rob Sbar takes the notion of the guitar instrumental album and creatively covers new ground."
"Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs bring to life a contemporary third person visual of today's constantly on-the-go society. By weaving, and yes even scaling, his guitar virtuoso around a semi-chaotic yet partially coherent song structure, Rob Sbar is able to tell stories that only our subconscious can hear and understand."
"In the end, it is easy to say that Rob Sbar offers up a very smart, smarmy, and intellectual album with Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs. If you need something other than the over bloated ego driven work of master guitar shredders, then come on into the pub and sit down with The Rob Sbar Noesis."
" ... this is one album that works on all levels and is quite enjoyable."- Jayson Murray,
For the full review click-eSpudd
"Let me start by saying that this album was a very pleasant surprise.
"The music offered here defies easy categorization, which I think is a great thing. The nine instrumental compositions that constitute the album are all smart, creative and really top notch, incorporating everything from 80's metal guitar flashes and sweep arpeggios all the way to almost lounge lizard, jazzy ennui. Dissonance is used sparingly, deliberately and the production is really excellent on every track. I hear bits and pieces of many things, but ultimately this is really 100% Rob Sbar Noesis."
"This is really killer jazz/prog fusion..."
"Want a break from brain junkfood and box office poison? Check out this album. It's really worth it..."
Rating: 9 keyboards.
Music In Belgium.net
"Rob Sbar est un virtuose de la six cordes et il aime qu'on entende. Dans son jeu et ses compositions, on retrouve la technique d'un Steve Vai et l'imagination d'un Frank Zappa. Parmi les influences de Rob Sbar, outre Steve Vai et Frank Zappa, on trouve John McLaughlin, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock et Chick Corea.
"Sur certains morceaux, comme "16 Shades of Gray", on sent également un style méga-technique comme celui de Yngwie Malmsteen. Là, il nous en met plein la vue! Dans la construction de ses morceaux, il travaille beaucoup dans un style proche de Frank Zappa, juxtaposant ainsi différentes sections musicales.
"Ecoutez "Media-Induced Paranoia" et ses alternances entre technique et douceur. Et "Blue Harvest", alliant mélodies et dissonances. Enfin, la pièce maîtresse "Diet Soda, Chinese Food and a Single Yellow Daisy" est vraiment l'illustration du style Zappa.
"Conclusion: Un disque très cérébral comme souvent dans ce style Rock/Jazz/Fusion."
- Jean-Pierre Lhoir,
Rob Sbar is a virtuoso of the six-string and he loves it, which goes without saying. As he plays his compositions, we see techniques reminiscent of Steve Vai and the imaginativeness of Frank Zappa. Among Rob Sbar's influences other than Steve Vai and Frank Zappa, we find John McLaughlin, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea.
In certain pieces, like "16 Shades of Gray," we see in equal parts a style that is inadvertently like that of Yngwie Malmsteen. Here, he gives us a great overview. In the construction of the pieces, he works a great deal in the style closely related to Frank Zappa, juxtaposing in this manner different musical sections.
In "Media-Induced Paranoia," you hear him alternate between technique and softness. And in "Blue Harvest," there are melodies and dissonances. Finally, the masterpiece, "Diet Soda, Chinese Food and a Single Yellow Daisy," truly shows the style of Zappa.
Conclusion: A very cerebral CD reminiscent of the Rock/Jazz/Fusion style.
- Jean-Pierre Lhoir,
20th Century Guitar/ mwe3.com
"Raising the spirit of vintage fusion guitar icons like Frank Zappa, John McLaughlin and Allan Holdsworth, NYC-based guitarist / composer Rob Sbar achieves a rare blend of musical styles on his 2002 instrumental CD Wagon Wheels And Atom Bombs. Sbar's deft guitar pyrotechnics are expertly balanced in the studio by Erik Feder (drums) and Matt Schaefer (bass). Not only is Sbar a gifted guitar virtuoso but he is also a wonderful storyteller who wrote a series of extensive, freewheeling dissertations in the 15 page booklet while he also designed the ultra bizarre CD cover art."
"... he arrives with his own interesting new twist on the latest fusion guitar sound. A masterful electric guitarist, music teacher, arranger and composer who's equally versed in jazz, avant-garde and hard rock, Sbar is off to a wonderful start on his kinetic debut CD."- Robert Silverstein,
Thai-VirtuosoFor the full review click-Thai-Virtuoso
"Turn to the back page of CMJ New Music Monthly, Issue No.118, and you¹ll find a full page of "geek love" dedicated to a man¹s undying devotion to progressive rock legends Rush. Even though author Rick Roberts admits it definitely doesn't get the chicks, he, and every other middle-class white male since 1974, has been enthralled by their music at one time or another.
So it's not surprising that I, possibly Rob Sbar's first and only female reviewer ever, ignore all the prog-rock bullshit on Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs in favor of what¹s really important Rob¹s sex appeal. And I'm not just saying that because he¹s tall and thin, with a masculine jawline covered in an oh-so-appropriately-yet-creatively-trimmed-goatee. Nor is it because of his long tousled mane that reminds me of my sweet stoner friends from college.
No. Rob Sbar turns me on because he plays jazz. His incessant ramblings on guitar are tolerable because they¹re laid atop a contradictory slow groove set down by drummer Erik Feder and bassist Matt Shaefer. Sure, the virtuoso runs on "16 Shades of Gray" are impressive, but that¹s not what¹s attracting the ladies. What¹s most impressive is Rob's solid music education (bachelor¹s and graduate degrees in music, thank you very much) and his intellectual and thoroughly artistic approach to his compositions. Liner notes, in lieu of nonexistent vocal lyrics, provide Sbar¹s philosophical meanderings on the album and it¹s structure for his listeners.
The interplay between band members is certainly the key to Sbar's success on this album. Let's face it, the guitar is designed as a melodic top instrument. But a full 40 minutes of guitar solos can get old really fast unless you¹re a preteen boy with the pipedream of becoming the next Steve Vai. Sbar gets it right, though, on songs like "Drowning In a Vacuum (Of Barbed Wire Solitude)," with a dichotomy that's both challenging and creative. And a few songs, like the almost Latin tinged "Blue Harvest," feature a full jazz orchestra recorded live in Philly.
We girls certainly like masters of their guitars, but not those who can¹t stop practicing their chords long enough to send a playful wink our way. Fortunately, Rob's instrumentals are lighthearted, whimsical, and free yet strong, serious, and carefully composed. And that¹s how a real rock chick likes her men."- Alicia Koledin,
For the full review click-Crusher Magazine
"El estilo de Sbar es dinámico, enérgico pero sumamente refinado. Las composiciones son intensas, con una base muy marcada y dinámica, abundando los cambios rítmicos muchas veces inesperados, sorprendentes. Hay algunos temas reposados donde saben mostrar su amplio espectro interpretativo cuidando las líneas melódicas si bién no pierden oportunidad de incluir entre ellas pasajes de mayor vigor. Encuentro a "Wagon Wheels and Atom Bom" un disco muy recomendable para los amantes de estas facetas intensas de la fusión."- Humberto Luna Tirado(Black Moon),
Sbar's style is dynamic, energetic and very refined. The compositions are intense with a marked and dynamic base of rhythmical changes, which are at many times unexpected and surprising. There are some marked contrasts and dynamics in which they show their great interpretive spectrum, taking care of the melody lines without losing the opportunity of including passages of great vigor. I find "Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs" a disk worthy of recommendation for lovers of these intense facets of fusion.- Humberto Luna Tirado(Black Moon),
For the full review click-Progressiva 70's
Koid '9 ... Le Bouche à Oreille n°44
"Il est devenu rare de trouver des musiciens vraiment novateurs, c'est pourtant le cas de Rob Sbar. Ce guitariste New Yorkais, véritable virtuose, a développé un style unique."
"La particularité de Sbar réside dans sa façon d'aborder et de renouveler le jeu de guitare. Lorsqu'il joue, il fait fumer le manche! Et c'est peu de dire. Il n'est pas virtuose pour rien et sans aucune retenue il le fait savoir à la face du monde. Sbar joue plus vite que son ombre et fait passer Yngwie J. Malmsteen pour un débutant! Les 9 titres entièrement instrumentaux sont le reflet stylistique des influences de notre homme. On passe aisément du jazz le plus pur à des titres beaucoup plus divers et variés voire funky. Zappa n'est pas loin. On peu aisément reprocher un tas de choses à cette musique démonstrative mais derrière ces compositions se cache un vrai talent car pour être franc on ne s'ennuie pas (enfin ce fut mon cas) à l'écoute de ce disque pourtant ardu. C'est un signe, non? "Wagon wheels and atom bombs" s'adresse avant tout aux amateurs de R.I.O. mais pas seulement. J'en suis la preuve!"- Denis "RIO" Perrot,
Janvier 2003 - P/53
It has been rare to find truly innovative musicians, that is, nevertheless the case of Rob Sbar. This truly virtuoso New York guitarist has developed a unique style.
Sbar's uniqueness resides in the uniqueness he approaches and renews playing the guitar. When he plays, the neck of the guitar smokes. It's the least I can say. He is not a virtuoso for nothing and without a doubt of reserve, he makes it known to the world. Sbar plays without a shadow of a doubt with the speed comparable to Yngwie J. Malmsteen on his first attempt. The nine entirely instrumental pieces reflect the stylistic influences of our man. He passes easily from pure jazz through the whole gamut and diverse variety of the more funky. Zappa is not far off. It is easy to cram together the many things that this music demonstrates but behind these compositions, we find a true talent because to be honest I have no problem (that is not in my case) listening to this disk however complex. Isn't it a sign of respect? "Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs" places him at the forefront of all enthusiasts of R.I.O. but not only them. I am the proof!- Denis "RIO" Perrot,
Janvier 2003 - P/53
"The Rob Sbar Noesis is like a combination big-band jazz fusion with some stellar playing by leader/guitarist Rob Sbar."
"A wonderful underground find ..."- Ron Fuchs,
February 16, 2003
For the full review click-Prognaut.com
"Everything on "Wagon Wheels & Atom Bombs" is highly original and complex both compositionally and technically. Furthermore, most of the arrangements are here in the state of a constant and logical development, and the frequent changes of musical direction, raised to the power of eclecticism, as well as the continuous use of complex measures, are very typical for this album. Effective contrasts between the amazingly virtuosi solos of electric guitar, that are often high-speed here, and those of bass and various percussion instruments (including drums, of course), is another key aspect of this highly innovative album. In fact, "Wagon Wheels & Atom Bombs" is just filled with wonderful contrasts, and you'll find them even on both of the boundary 'wheels' of this musical express. While short, both of them, nevertheless, are very saturated. Performed by The Rob Sbar Large Orchestra, these are extracts from the pieces that, to all appearances, are about a pure Jazz. By the way, that orchestra appears also at the very end of Blue Harvest (7). The piece itself however, as well as I Woke Up (3), is about Classic Jazz-Fusion, the taste, diversity, and intricacy of which are on par with those in the music of Allan Holdsworth (on "Metal Fatigue" just for instance), Pat Metheny, and the other best representatives of the genre. Especially mind-blowing however, are here those compositions, the musical textures of which contain the elements of Prog-Metal. These are all five of the remaining tracks, and taken together, they cover about three fourths of the CD's 'playing' space. The stylistics of three of them: Lexical Gap, 16 Shades of Grey, and Media-Induced Paranoia (2, 4, & 6), represents that unique Jazz-Metal, which I've mentioned in the beginning of the review. To be more precise, the music on each of these three compositions is about a strong blend of Modern Prog-Metal and Jazz-Fusion of a high complexity where heavy and jazzy textures are interwoven with each other the most wonderful way I've ever heard. A highly innovative, truly Modern Jazz-Fusion with elements of Prog-Metal is present on the remaining two compositions, Drowning In a Vacuum and Diet Soda (5 & 8). Both of them are as amazingly diverse, complex, and interesting as the album as a whole, though the 10-minute epic Diet Soda, which is the longest track here, is probably an absolute winner. Finally, I think I should mention that in the intro to one of the pieces on this album, there is the excellent solo of bass that, in addition, is clearly of an Eastern nature. The solos of xylophone are really evident on Lexical Gap, Media-Induced Paranoia, and Diet Soda (2, 6, & 8), those of hand percussion on the first of them, and also on 16 Shades of Grey (4), and those of glockenspiel only on the latter of them."
"Some of Rob's guitar acrobatics are unique by all means. As for the album as a whole, most of the contents of it are so original that I don't see any reasons for recalling the names of those artists whose creation would be at least partly comparable to that of Rob Sbar. However, the main merit of this album lies in Rob's outstanding compositional and arrangement capabilities. Apart from those who are exclusively into symphonic musical forms, "Wagon Wheels & Atom Bombs" should please any open-minded Prog-lover especially those who are always eager for something new in Progressive. As for me, I only regret that Rob didn't release a CD with music by The Rob Sbar Large Jazz Orchestra in addition to this one. Though I think that there are such recordings in his archive."
*6 STARS*- Vitaly Menshikov,
February 14, 2003
For the full review click-Progressor.net
Rock Progressivo Brazil - rockprogressivo.com.br
"Neste primeiro CD do guitar hero Rob Sbar, ajudados por mais dois músicos, o músico apresenta um rock/fusion instrumental essencialmente virtuoso. Pode-se dizer que Rob tem um estilo próprio, já que o que se ouve neste disco é algo realmente novo. Para os que buscam comparaçoes, Rob remete a Frank Zappa. No encarte, um texto interessante com referências à cultura americana e européia."- Cesar Lanzarini,
In this first COMPACT DISK of the guitar hero Rob Sbar, helped by two more musicians, the musician presents an essentially virtuous instrumental rock fusion. It is able to be said that Rob has an own style, since what is heard in this disk is somewhat really new. For those who seek comparisons, Rob resembles Frank Zappa. In the booklet, there is an interesting text with references to American and European culture.- Cesar Lanzarini,
For the full review click-Rock Progressivo
"Frank Zappa lives and now plays jazz! Il newyorkese Rob Sbar affiancato da una sezione ritmica tour-de-force come Erik Feder alla pelli e Matt Schaefer al basso riesce a stravolgere il jazz e la fusion con atmosfere cattivelle e con uno shred accattivante. Nove tracks al fulmicotone. Dopo una breve intro jazz e' con Lexical Gap che arriva il terremoto. Da notare anche brani più interessanti e visionari come Drowning In A Vacuum. Il sound dei Noesis e' molto grezzo, nessun effecto come reverberi o delay intaccano questo lavoro particolare. Stupenda anche la lunga Diet Soda ... Il cd e' ben confezionato e ben prodotto. Devo dire che questo disco ci fa assaporare un po' di New York, molto cupo e grezzo, ben fatto Rob!"
*4 STARS*- Matt Cafissi,
Frank Zappa lives and now plays jazz! New Yorker Rob Sbar has assembled a rhythmic tour-de-force with Erik Feder on skins and Matt Schaefer on bass together successfully infusing jazz and fusion with captivating atmosphere and impressive shredding. Nine tracks of lightning and thunder. After a brief jazz intro and with "Lexical Gap" the earthquake arrives. Also of note, interesting and visionary shredding on "Drowning in a Vacuum." The sound of Noesis is very raw, without any effects like reverb or delay to detract from this special work. Also magnificent is the long "Diet Soda." The CD is very polished and well produced. I must say that this disc captures the taste of New York a little, very profound and unfettered. Well done Rob!- Matt Cafissi,
For the full review click-Guitar Chef
The Dutch Progressive Rock Page
" ... this is an album that brings us the guitar mastery of Rob Sbar."
" ... the music was incredible, Media Induced Paranoia so excellently captured the mood suggested by the title. The combination of strong metal riffing interlaced jazzy textures was extremely effective. Drowning in a Vacuum (Of Barbed Wire Solitude) opened superbly with some Holdsworth sounding chord structuring, before moving onto the more frenzied lead section. Lexical Gap was the track which had everything - great chops, varied and interesting parts from the rhythm section and fluid guitar."
"There are no doubts in my mind that Rob is a truly gifted musician and each and every track was in itself very worthy."
"The arrangements and compositions are meticulously written and executed making this, for me, a musicians album."- Bob Mulvey,
"If you've been hankering for an '80s guitar god album with a prog twist, Rob Sbar's debut may be right up your alley. Sbar, a composer/visual artist/guitarist who has studied with everyone from axe-slinger and note-burner Greg Howe to Pulitzer prize-winning serial composer Charles Wuorinen, may be an enigmatic figure, but he's also an undeniably talented one."
"The music on Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs draws on a variety of influences. While the elaborate chord changes and fluid time shifts suggest jazz fusion as a primary reference, Sbar's guitar sound is firmly rooted in the rock/metal idiom, invoking, among others, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai and Greg Howe as touchstones. A propos of Vai, many of the compositions revel in the kind of deliberate discontinuity that Zappa's band at its best was wont to do. An avant-garde classical composer in his own right, Sbar certainly knows the Stravinsky and Varese scores from which Zappa picked up the idea of juxtaposing disparate musical sections."- Christian Carey,
"The playing is excellent by all players and the man can shred on the guitar with the best but it is the other parts of the music that I like the best."
"The CD has really cool artwork, great imaginative song titles and amazing liner notes."- Scott Heller,
Issue #23 (April 2003)
For the full review click-Aural Innovations
"Rob Sbar comes straight at the listener with a barrage of speedy fusion on Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs. Sbar has an unusual style that consists of clean-toned jazz phrasings that articulate the underlying progressions and gritty-toned leadwork that blazes over the fretboard traversing scales, sweeps, and raucous patterns."
"The compositions explore some interesting harmonization with the chordal underpinnings and soloing that has a sense of rawness about it."
"This aspect of the speedy guitar is reminiscent of some of Shawn Lane's exploratory type music with Hellborg and Sipe."
"Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs from The Rob Sbar Noesis is a divergence from reality into the nebulous dimensions of abstract, progressive fusion."
"...the advanced and progressive musical ideas that Sbar explores may be of interest to followers of progressive fusion of the abstract variety. Sbar has a very interesting style that fuses shred guitar pyrotechnics, abstract harmonization, unusual chord progressions, complex arrangements, and challenging metres that together demonstrate his capabilities with advanced guitar and progressive fusion."
"...unique brand of abstract fusion."- Christopher Ruel,
"Imagine a recording that starts with the funky beat of 40's jazz, then proceeds to be shredded to pieces by fusion guitar work that flows as well as rips. That is what you can expect with the Rob Sbar (pronounced "Star") Noesis. This is one tight, well-postured band headed by virtuoso guitarist Rob Sbar."
"We¹ve heard the fusion guitar thing many times before, all by talented demi-gods of the genre, but no one plays faster than Sbar, nor more fluid."
"The rhythm team just carry a relaxed, energetic, eclectic beat through which Mr. Sbar inserts his dexterous daggers. The 43 minute CD is awash in experimental and avant-garde interpretations of progressive fusion."
"In effect, each song has its appropriate personality and keeps the album colourful and varied. The end result is something supremely virtuoso, without being plain assaulting."- RIPZ,
Interviews with Rob Sbar are available at:
Guitar Mania-where The Rob Sbar Noesis CD Wagon Wheels and Atom Bombs has been named the CD of the Month for February 2003.