Nous II (Our Silent Canvas)


Released December 9, 2019

DownBeat Four-and-a-Half-Star Review




NOUS is an endlessly experimental ensemble created and curated by composer and producer Christopher Bono. NOUS aims to build communal musical relationships that collectively work to find new ways of creating art. Each installment centers around a different focal concept, and the project features a fluctuating group of artists. As Mr. Bono explains, “Nous aspires to bypass the lower level thought patterns of the egotistical mind and encourages the connection of those involved to reach a higher level of consciousness, providing a creative space where intuitive, unexpected, and unexplained results can occur.”

The name Nous was chosen for its double meaning. Nous means “we” or “us” in French; however, within the philosophical tradition it is sometimes equated to intellect or intelligence, and is used to describe the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, similar to intuition. In the Eastern tradition, the sanskrit equivalent is Buddhi, which denotes an aspect of mind that is higher than the rational mind and that is attracted to Brahman (“Truth” or “Reality”).

The impulse for the Nous project came after composer Christopher Bono finished his full-length orchestral work Bardo. After spending two years working on the score and the studio recording of Bardo, Bono was driven to experience and investigate completely different approaches to musical creation.

“This second album from the NOUS ensemble features the same lineup as NOUS I, but I took the project and the musicians on a deeper dive into the post-rock, and ambient genres. The project maintains the spirit of spontaneity, but the musical experiments are conducted within a framework of more melodic exploration alongside cellular motif and groove oriented experiments.”

Christopher Bono

Track Listing:

1. Look Again At That Dot 6:37

2. Formless 1:54

3. Here In My Chest It Is What It Is 8:22

4. Yoj! Yoj! 5:14

5. Nighten Gale 6:20

6. World Map One 6:53

7. Uthando 6:57

8. Formless Too 1:14

9. Assume A Sunbeam 4:41


Christopher Bono: keyboards, electronics, percussion, vocals

Greg Fox: drums, percussion, electronic

Thor Harris: drums, percussion, custom built instruments

Shahzad Ismaily: electronics, guitar, bass

Grey Mcmurray: guitar, percussion

Special Guests

Caleb Burhans: violin, viola

Cecilie Hafstad: vocals, percussion

HariPrakaash: gong

Imago: cello, vocals

Clarice Jensen: cello

Jen Kutler: percussion, vocals

Laura Lutzke: violin

Anthony Molina: synths, percussion

Alex Sopp: flute

Recorded September 2019, at Dreamland Studios, NY

Produced, recorded and mixed by Kevin McMahon

Assistant engineer: Jen Kutler


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 vehicle 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, 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 anxiety 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.

Jamie Ludwig (DownBeat)