199

Levin Torn White: Levin Torn White

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Levin Torn White: Levin Torn White Pity poor Alan White. The British drummer had racked up plenty of street cred playing on projects by then-ex-The Beatles John Lennon and George Harrison, Joe Cocker and Free's Paul Kossoff, when progressive rockers Yes came knocking in 1973, looking to replace Bill Bruford, who'd departed, on the cusp of massive commercial success, to join up with the more improv-heavy King Crimson. Forty years later, White is still working in a group that struggles for relevancy in the 21st century—still relying predominantly on music from its glory days of 1970-1977, despite releasing new albums like the tepid Fly From Here (Frontiers, 2011)—and, while proving himself to be a fine drummer, the Bruford comparisons continue to this day.

Torn Levin White won't do much to stop ongoing comparisons between White and Bruford, given that bassist/Chapman Stick man Tony Levin (another Crimson alum) and guitarist David Torn have worked with Bruford in the past, on Torn's superb Cloud About Mercury (ECM, 1985) and, more recently, in the short-lived Bruford Levin Upper Extremities group that, with trumpeter Chris Botti, released two superb albums around the turn of the millennium. But if White's playing has come under fire in recent years—accused of being at least partially responsible for Yes' funereally down-tempo'd live performances—then Levin Torn White should go a long way towards vindicating him. He may still lack Bruford's instantaneously identifiable personality, but he's playing with more fire—more hunger—than he has in years; clearly a change of scenery is just what the doctor ordered.

Leaning further away from the free jazz proclivities of Prezens (ECM, 2007) and more towards the progressive rock end of the spectrum, Torn's ability to create dense sound sculptures has never sounded better. If there's a North American equivalent to the extra-guitar explorations of Norway's Eivind Aarset and the younger Stian Westerhus, it's Torn, his ability to soar into remarkable extremes of controlled feedback on "Ultra Mullett" matched by the stratospheric cloud cover hovering over "Convergence," where his strummed chords and snaking lines add a David Lynch vibe to this, one of fourteen cinematic explorations born of in-the-studio improvs shaped into discrete pieces in post-production, with the able assistance of co-producer Scott Schorr.

Levin has long since transcended the need to prove anything, but the ever-unshakable groove-meister is also at his recent best here, whether it's the fuzz bass-driven "The Hood Fell," which harkens back to "Cerulean Sea" on Bruford Levin Upper Extremities (DGM Live, 1998), or the tapped Chapman Stick-driven, metrically challenging "Monkey Mind," where White may not demonstrate the same mathematical, polyrhythmic complexities as Bruford, but rocks it with unbridled energy and the biggest sound he's ever had.

A powerful addition to the canon innovated by Torn, B.L.U.E. and the various ProjeKcts instigated by King Crimson's Robert Fripp as a means of wood-shedding new ideas, Levin Torn White not only feeds a jones for the more experimental side of instrumental progressive rock, it lays to rest all concerns about Alan White's Yes work—and suggests it's time the 62 year-old drummer be allowed to come out from under Bruford's long shadow.


Track Listing: No Warning Lights; Ultra Mullett; White Noise; The Hood Fell; Monkey Mind; Cheese It, The Corpse; Convergence; Pillowfull of Dark; The Eggman Cometh; Sleeping Horse; Prom Night of the Centipedes; Crunch Time; Brain Tattoo; Lights Out.

Personnel: Tony Levin: bass, Chapman Stick; David Torn: guitars, textural effects; Alan White: drums, percussion.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Lazy Bones Recordings | Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Before The Silence CD/LP/Track Review Before The Silence
by John Sharpe
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1 CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017
Read Process And Reality CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "Beginning of A Memory" CD/LP/Track Review Beginning of A Memory
by Mark Corroto
Published: May 15, 2016
Read "Moving Still" CD/LP/Track Review Moving Still
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 12, 2016
Read "The Beast" CD/LP/Track Review The Beast
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 20, 2016
Read "Goodbye to Language" CD/LP/Track Review Goodbye to Language
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 14, 2016
Read "Leap Of Faith" CD/LP/Track Review Leap Of Faith
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 26, 2016
Read "Jersey" CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 9, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!