Jump to content

David Torn, Prezens


Guy Berger
 Share

Recommended Posts

I haven't followed Torn since the mid 90's, but I would be interested in hearing what he's up to. I understand he had quite a horrific incident a while back when a tumor attached itself to his auditory canal, causing complete deafness in one ear. What a fate for a musician! Glad to see he's still rockin' it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 2 months later...

At least you have the option of seeing Torn live!

Yeah, how about that. That was #4. I saw Cloud About Mercury at the Bottom Line, BLUE at the Kitting Factory, last nights show and this same band at 55 Bar four years ago. I think they're playing in Brooklyn next month, I'm pretty sure I'll catch that.

The show was great, but I should have moved around a bit. I heard too much guitar. Folks that were sitting 10 feet to the right of me got a better mix. I'll try to get a recording, I know at least one audience recording was made, if not two. Mr. Torn has always been nice about boots.

edit for spelling.

Edited by 7/4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Music Review | David Torn

Evolutions and Mutations of a Knob-Tweaking Guitarist

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/19/arts/mus....html?ref=music

By NATE CHINEN

Published: April 19, 2007

David Torn is a guitarist, composer and producer, though the word order may depend on whom you consult. His career, stretching back more than 30 years, could easily be the work of several different people. He has carved a niche at the extreme end of guitar culture, while working extensively (and successfully) in film and commercial music. To call him a hero of the electric avant-garde would be accurate but incomplete.

On Tuesday night Mr. Torn made a relatively rare appearance at Joe’s Pub in celebration of “Prezens,” his new album on ECM. The show was sold out, and the house was suitably well stocked with guitarists. The stage was well stocked too, with an intimidating assemblage of amplifiers, electronics and what looked like a dozen effects pedals. At first glance it seemed clear which of Mr. Torn’s identities would take center stage.

Performing with Mr. Torn were the alto saxophonist Tim Berne, the keyboardist Craig Taborn and the drummer Tom Rainey; in another context they have a collective identity as Hard Cell, working mainly with the corkscrew compositions of Mr. Berne. But at Joe’s Pub, as on “Prezens,” they submitted to Mr. Torn’s sonic designs, which evolved, or perhaps just mutated, over the course of an hourlong group improvisation.

Disruption served as a compositional device throughout the set, which began with a rhythmic repetition by Mr. Taborn and some clucking sounds by Mr. Berne. Out of nowhere a broken beat exploded into being: Mr. Rainey’s entrance. Then the beat halted, just as abruptly. Into the expectant quiet Mr. Berne played a six-note saxophone pattern, which Mr. Torn electronically sampled, setting up a jagged funk groove.

Mr. Torn generated a precise scrum of feedback and oceanic noise, making expressive use of the tremolo arm on his guitar. When Mr. Taborn insinuated a new underlying pulse with his Fender Rhodes piano — a slow-burn vamp in 14/8 meter — Mr. Torn shifted more toward static. With one hand tweaking knobs on a console and one foot glued to a pedal, he seemed like a hybrid: the guitarist-as-producer, with the instrument serving as an interface.

“Prezens,” Mr. Torn’s first ECM album since “Cloud About Mercury” about 20 years ago, proposes a more radical mediation. Though it began as a series of free improvisations, Mr. Torn filtered and fractured the results, producing an ambitious compositional collage.

“It’s incredible,” Mr. Berne said of the album, in his role as onstage spokesman on Tuesday night. “It’s probably better than this,” he added with a chuckle, before the band plunged into action. He wasn’t serious or right, exactly, but on some level he had a point.

--

Torn Washes Over Joe's

BY STEVE DOLLAR

April 19, 2007

URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/52774

There's a funny line in "The Big Chill," of all things, that applies directly to David Torn. At one point, William Hurt is watching a late-night creature feature and remarks, in a smart-aleck aside, that "It's art, you just have to let it wash over you."

Mr. Torn's giddy onslaught Tuesday at Joe's Pub begs for just such an appraisal, but not in a jivey way. The gizmo-loving guitar hero is a rare enough sight on a New York City stage to explain the standing-room only house, though lately he's been popping up in odd corners, like Park Slope's low-key Tea Lounge, with his longtime sidekick, the alto saxophonist Tim Berne. It was with Mr. Berne and his frequent bandmates —keyboardist Craig Taborn and drummer Tom Rainey — that Mr. Torn performed at Joe's, surveying the group concept behind his new album, "prezens" (ECM).

Mr. Torn's quartet is committed to a dark, eruptive, oceanic sound in which overlapping bursts and fragments of rhythm, melody, and harmony sometimes crash violently against one another before ebbing into a translucent stillness. On the new album, recorded two years ago in Mr. Torn's Hudson River Valley studio and radically "magicked" by the guitarist in post-production, the effect is properly hallucinatory, but often more "chill." Mr. Torn, whose last ECM disc was 1987's "Clouds About Mercury," is a pioneer in sculpting ambient textures with guitars and electronics, using powerful rock dynamics fused to a slippery jazz flow. He digs that sound out from way in, the same kind of hermetic studio wizardry that Miles Davis and Teo Macero masterminded on the trumpeter's classic electric albums of the late 1960s and early '70s.

Onstage, however, the approach guarantees a head rush. On Tuesday, Mr. Torn alternated between two guitars and a blinking bank of electronics that looped and distorted snatches of music that had just been played, creating a mutant commentary on the group's basement space-lab chemistry. Often, the guitarist would stoke brief passages into an escalating frenzy of bent and elided notes, sustained as a plasmatic shimmer, while all of the other musicians seemed to busy themselves in their individual orbits: Mr. Berne chugging through cycles of horn riffs like a steam engine; Mr. Rainey slipping between the hyperkinesis of drum ‘n' bass rhythms and the atmospheric tremors of the tom-toms, and Mr. Taborn massaging his Fender Rhodes for appropriately spectral emanations from the 1970s jazzfunk continuum.

But if you thought the band was not entirely in synch, you weren't listening. The great fun of this sort of outfit is tuning deeply into its off-kilter percolations and bending an ear to discover how all the pieces fit together. It's as if the music, which had the feel of something improvised over some prearranged patterns, was a kind of unusual mechanism, like an eccentric Swiss watch — precise in peculiar ways. The deeper structure, rich in color and bustling sweat equity, consistently rewarded patient listening, especially when complex rhythmic ideas would arise, unite, and evaporate, propelling a transit from panic to trance.

In the meanwhile, it was often enough to revel in the warp-drive effusions of Mr. Torn's guitars, which unleashed a dynamic wallop that was rare to experience in the relatively snug and upscale confines of Joe's. Mr. Torn would not have to stretch too far if he decided to scale his music for theaters or arenas (just add amplifiers — lots!). The problem is that it's not 1971 and there is no Fillmore East: An audience of 150 is mighty good for geared-up displays of extravagant, sci-fi soundscapes. Everyone else, grab your headphones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Variety

http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117933379...yid=34&cs=1

Recently Reviewed

David Torn

(Joe's Pub; 220 capacity; $20)

By DAVID SPRAGUE

Presented in-house. Reviewed April 17, 2007.

Band: David Torn, Tim Berne, Craig Taborn, Tom Rainey. Reviewed April 17, 2007.

David Torn is one of the more difficult modern musicians to pigeonhole, what with his forays into ambient sounds, world jazz and electronic dissonance -- a combination that's kept him under the mainstream radar while garnering him a ravenous cult following that packed this tony venue more tightly than it's been populated in ages.

All of the aforementioned elements figured into this heady, improvisational set of dense, rough-hewn pieces based on, albeit in typically alinear fashion, the guitarist's new ECM release "Presenz."

Flanked by a formidable display of effects -- anchored by a box that looked, for all the world, like an old microwave -- Torn conjured a spectral sound, one seemingly more suited for astral projection than cocktail accompaniment.

The perf started strappingly, with Torn weaving a post-modern Scotty Moore lead into a tapestry that was spattered with, but not overwhelmed by, tones of dark and stormy skronk.

Rather than trade off solos in relay team fashion, the quartet burrowed into the meat of each composition simultaneously, sometimes taking parallel paths, and sometimes clashing swords fitfully -- with saxophonist Tim Berne's biting, upper-register lines gnashing and wailing atop Torn's sea of triggered samples.

Each of the participants staked out a plot of the sonic spectrum -- Tom Rainey serving as something of an anchor, despite a peripatetic style that found him prodding his drum kit with sticks, brushes and the occasional elbow, and Craig Taborn visiting loamier regions with keyboard patterns that touched on both bluesiness and machine-shop electronica.

The ensemble listed towards insularity to a debilitating degree at times, leaving even sympathetic aud members trying vainly to find a way into the aural construction being assembled onstage. But when the connection was made, the effect was magical -- the musical equivalent of the sort of mind-meld science-fiction writers have posited for decades.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to admit I had never heard of David Torn's name until I saw the upcoming concert schedule for Ars Nova. After reading this thread I'm definitely going to see this...

Saturday, May 19 | 8pm

David Torn's Prezens

with

David Torn, el. guitar/live sampling

Tim Berne, alto saxophone

Michael Formanek, bass

Craig Taborn, Fender Rhodes

Tom Rainey, drums

+ Michael Formanek/Tim Berne Duo performs "The Offbeat Manifesto"

Philadelphia Clef Club

738 South Broad Street

$22 General Admission

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to admit I had never heard of David Torn's name until I saw the upcoming concert schedule for Ars Nova. After reading this thread I'm definitely going to see this...

Saturday, May 19 | 8pm

David Torn's Prezens

with

David Torn, el. guitar/live sampling

Tim Berne, alto saxophone

Michael Formanek, bass

Craig Taborn, Fender Rhodes

Tom Rainey, drums

+ Michael Formanek/Tim Berne Duo performs "The Offbeat Manifesto"

Philadelphia Clef Club

738 South Broad Street

$22 General Admission

I'm thinking of attending.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

At least you have the option of seeing Torn live!

Yeah, how about that. That was #4. I saw Cloud About Mercury at the Bottom Line, BLUE at the Kitting Factory, last nights show and this same band at 55 Bar four years ago. I think they're playing in Brooklyn next month, I'm pretty sure I'll catch that.

I just thought of another one: Mark Isham Band at the Bottom Line w/David Torn and Terry Bozzio, years ago.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

David Torn Muses on Record Production, Film Scoring, and More

By Barry Cleveland, Guitar Player, May 2007

Guitarist David Torn is widely recognized for his innovative approach to his instrument, and his many genre-expanding recordings. But Torn is also a sought-after record producer (David Bowie, Jeff Beck, Dave Douglas, Tori Amos, Sting) and film composer (Believe In Me, Friday Night Lights, The Order, Traffic). In these interview outtakes from GP’s June, 2007 artist feature, he reflects on both aspects of his diverse career.

How do you decide which record production offers to accept?

Because I put so much effort into the work, I have to have a connection with the music, not just be brought onboard because I was some guy who somebody thought was famous and could do a good job mixing. My best work is when I understand and feel the music.

Another issue is time. I’ve gotten so busy that the first projects to get accepted are from friends who have been a part of some scene that I’m connected to. Many are super low-budget, which doesn’t concern me except for the priority of my family’s needs, so these days what’s sneaking through are people who I know, and who I know are committed to doing something with the records. The edges of the boxes from within which I work are not extremely well defined, so every project brings a new attitude, which means I have to spend two or three weeks mixing every project. It can’t just be one of these independent things where they expect you to mix a whole record in a few days, because that’s not going to happen with me. And I also like to know that the person who’s coming to me is willing to allow me to do some creative editing. I don’t mean make every record sound like a Squarepusher record, or one of my records, but there has to be some willingness to involve me as a producer.

Finally, I have to feel that our personalities are compatible. For example, although I had a great time doing the Kaki King record, it wasn’t a good match. And, in fact, I ended up standing over [recording engineer] Hector Castillo’s shoulder and allowing him to do the mix, because Kaki really didn’t let me in. It’s no disrespect to her. She’s an incredibly talented, smart individual, but it just was not a good match at that time. I prefer to be proud of what I do. I’m still hoping to produce Jeff Beck’s next record, and I’m pretty sure that someday that will happen.

If you could produce any artist you choose, who would it be?

I’m not really sure in a desert island kind of way, but I would love more than anything to work with Estrella Morente, the flamenco singer, on a project that was meant to be a creative collaboration. And secretly, I’d love to a “pop record gone wrong” with someone like Chris Cornell, if he really took a hard left turn, or Tom Morello, or Kevin Shields, or Gnarls Barkley. And there’s still this desire to produce with David Bowie for David Bowie, but that’ll probably go to the grave with me. I could make a very long list, and that’s not even going into the jazz zones.

Which of your skills, psychological and technical, do you find most useful in helping an artist achieve something of lasting value?

I’m not really sure, other than musicality. It’s not so much bringing to bear the creatively collaborative elements—it’s bringing to bear the artist’s commitment to what it is they are doing, because my commitment is so insanely present at all times. My social skills are not that great. My technical skills are very interesting and different, but they are kind of idiosyncratically expert. So I always think that it has to do with being able to hear the music well, and to hear what the artist is hearing, or might be trying to hear, and to communicate commitment, that it’s not a joke. This is your last record. That’s my attitude. This is your last note. If that’s the case, then what are you bringing to the table, and if that’s not the case, then why are you doing this? That’s how I’d like to think of myself, even if it’s not really true [laughs]. It’s not just about the commerce or about that very specific form of ego gratification that can occur with fame and/or money.

How much of the soundtrack for The Order was just you?

It’s split about 40/60 between the orchestra and myself. That was an unusual one, because it was my first score for a real Hollywood feature film, and the license to be creative was unusually broad. I’m really proud of that score, especially because it was my first solo feature. The director, Brian Helgeland, is also a writer, so we had very writer-ly things to discover about the music as we were going along, and that was an incredible ride, really a great score to have done.

In what ways does the creative process differ when you are composing music for a film, as opposed to your own records?

What I’ve discovered over the many years that I’ve worked under other composers on hundreds of films as a creative contributor, is that when it’s working best, it’s because the composer is literate and understands the nature of storytelling. And then applying that, and hopefully coming to an agreement with the director’s vision of what he wants, and of what he actually has on film. And then you’ve got to please the studio and the producers. It’s a really different process than making your own record, and very stressful, which I enjoy. I like the drama. I hate it and like it at the same time.

Why did you choose to partially relocate to Southern California?

Film scores are changing right now, or they are about to change, and I wanted to be around for that. Except for the classic, epic-style movies, there’s a tendency now to use less and less music in a film. It’s been going on for a couple of years, and has been marked, although maybe not visibly or vocally by the industry, and validated by the success of a few very idiosyncratic composers in the last few years.

Who are those composers?

Gustavo Santaolalla, who won the Oscar two years in a row. He’s a musician, a guitar player, and he’s only been in L.A. for five years. He’s done six films, and two years in a row he won Oscars for movies that had, maybe, 15 or 20 minutes of music in them altogether. Then there’s Antonio Pinto, who did City of God. Jon Brion. Michael Edwards, who did Donnie Darko. David Julian, who did Memento. Clint Mansell. Javier Navarrete, who did Pan’s Labyrinth, which doesn’t have that much music in it, but where it does exist, it’s really critical to the story.

And it’s a specific type of film, not all films. Because John Williams doing a Steven Spielberg film is always brilliant, what are you going to say? And Thomas Newman doing anything is always brilliant. There are always going to be films that require something very Hollywood-esque.

Are there any particularly interesting guitar-oriented techniques that you use when scoring that are different than what you’d use on your own record?

There are. One of the things that I like to do if I’m stuck for an orchestral idea or something thematic is to play the picture and make loops of harmonics. You can hear this very much on Friday Night Lights, where I’m using these tiny harmonic loops done with flageolets in different tunings, to set a tone and pace for something.

Starting with pure textural devices, such as long, ambient-style loops, can often be the trigger for beginning to write something, and it’s become a way to move forward for me. It is, in fact, all the textural devices that got me into this business in the first place—the fact that other people were hiring me to create these moving harmonic textures for their scores.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I went to this show last night at Philadelphia Clef Club. Everyone in the band rocked except Torn. He was just playing with his fucking sampler the whole time and occasionally playing a semi-inspired riff.

The highlights were Michael Formanek & Tim Berne (on baritone sax) performing their world premiere of "The Offbeat Manifesto," and Taborn playing with all his "toys."

Torn benefits from a lot of hype as a producer. As a musician, there's just not much there (that I hear).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

David Torn Muses on Record Production, Film Scoring, and More

By Barry Cleveland, Guitar Player, May 2007

This is the web part of the interview, the magazine version is totally different (and more interesting).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Torn benefits from a lot of hype as a producer. As a musician, there's just not much there (that I hear).

I haven't heard Prezens, but I do have the album he did w/Tony Levin and Bill Bruford about a decade ago (Upper Extremities). Torn can definitely play.

Guy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to this show last night at Philadelphia Clef Club. Everyone in the band rocked except Torn. He was just playing with his fucking sampler the whole time and occasionally playing a semi-inspired riff.

The highlights were Michael Formanek & Tim Berne (on baritone sax) performing their world premiere of "The Offbeat Manifesto," and Taborn playing with all his "toys."

Torn benefits from a lot of hype as a producer. As a musician, there's just not much there (that I hear).

His solo lines are pretty strange and unique. I love Cloud About Mercury.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...
  • 6 months later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...