David Torn: Prezens (2007)
How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
David Torn never ceases to amaze with the variety of stylistic veins of sound he mines for gold and gems. There are many guitarists out there but rarely has someone shown such a broad scope with their playing, wide taste in influences, musical diversity, and capability in painting challenging and solitary impressions with their guitar brushstrokes.
Prezens is his first album as a band leader for ECM since Cloud about Mercury released in 1986. The album transmits many different feelings and Torn and the band act as painters splashing their canvas with all different kinds of colors and textures. Most of the compositions were conceived through group improvisations with Torn intervening by remixing, reshaping, reconstructing, and recomposing the material.
It is difficult to relate an adequate representation of the music as each minute contains such a great deal of creation. Tracks appear and reveal themselves in a world full of possibilities and limitless space. The 11 pieces captured, navigate a spectrum of sounds from intense primal urges to delicately hushed lyricism. At times terrifying and brutally experimental: ("Structural Functions of Prezens, "Sink, "Bulb ), funky as hell (notice the ending of "AK ), tender ("Them Buried Standing ), and cinematic ("Miss Place, The Mist ).
Torn and his band handled the task with considerable prowess and Prezens is an achievement equaled by a few. Whatever studio interventions taken, the finished creation is definitely worthwhile and the release is possibly a masterpiece of modern improvised music. The striking contrasts and constantly shifting textures of these tracks reveal moments of intense insanity moving into quiet beauty. Such is the power of David Torn's Prezens that it's difficult to imagine anybody not being both moved and affected by it.
Track Listing: Ak; Rest & Unrest; Structural Functions of Prezens; Bulbs; Them Buried Standing; Sink; Neck- deep in the Harrow...; Ever More Other; Ring for Endless Travel; Miss Place, the Mist...; Transmit Regardless.
Personnel: David Torn: guitars, live sampling and manipulation; alto saxophone; Craig Taborn: Fender Rhodes piano, Hammond organ, mellotron, bent circuits; Tom Rainey: drums; Matt Chamberlain: additional drums (10).
Record Label: ECM Records
Style: Modern Jazz