For less daring and disillusioned audiences, David Torn's ongoing conversation and debate with the twenty-first century Sun of Goldfinger might sound unnervingly like seventy-plus minutes of tuneless, churning exposition laying waste to conventional form. For the rest, these three uncompromising works create an immersive excursion into an intense creative mind opening itself to all possibilities.
Along with absorbing listeners and expecting reductive reactions from them, fellow New York adventurers also join Torn on these mercurial dialogs. Tim Berne's singular, piercing alto saxophone brings the human voice into the cacophony. Drummer Ches Smith is the relentless heartbeat and, along with Torn, adds live-looping and otherworldly electronics to the sonic volcanics.
Birthing Sun of Goldfinger to life is "Eye Meddle," the surging first of two spontaneous trio pieces bookending the large ensemble piece "Spartan, Before It Hit." Using the mixing process as the "gigantic reveal" referred to by Torn, "Eye Meddle" becomes an increasingly incessant, fascinating inquiry into ambient mechanics and group-think. Simmering slowly from ambulance siren-like beginnings, the trio moves unwaveringly into darker realms, with expectant loops and effects erupting into a howling, pounding, full-throttle oceanic pull. Above it all, Berne's extended lines serve in equal measure as distressed voices barely holding their heads above water, and prolonged prayers of thankfulness knowing the anxious dark will soon pass.
Pianist Craig Taborn, Berne's guitarists on his album Snakeoil (ECM, 2012) Mike Beggetta and Ryan Ferreira, and the Scorchio String Quartet (violinists Amy Kimball and Rachel Golub, cellist Leah Coloff and violist Martha Mooke) expand the trio to a tentet to for the kaleidoscopic, cinematic "Spartan, Before It Hit." A storm in real-time, the dense harmonics hover and shift dream-like through written chart and improvisation. The set closes with the second squalling group improvisation "Soften the Blow," a series of Torn's guitar strangulations and Berne's loosened bleatings set against Smith's emotive percussion. Impossibly hypnotic.
Eye Meddle; Spartan, Before It Hit; Soften the Blow.
David Torn: electric guitar, live-looping, electronics; Tim Berne: alto saxophone; Ches Smith: drums, electronics, tanbou; Craig Taborn: electronics, piano (2); Scorchio String Quartet (2): Martha Mooke: viola/director; Amy Kimball: vioin; Rachel Golub: violin: Leah Coloff: cello; Mike Baggetta, guitar (2); Ryan Ferreira, guitar (2).
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