Ben Monder and David Torn, Jazz Guitarists Unafraid to Wrestle With Darkness

On “Sun of Goldfinger,” he’s joined by the alto saxophonist Tim Berne (a longtime collaborator) and the drummer Ches Smith for 2 20-minute-long improvisations. A 3rd, equally lengthy monitor, “Spartan, Before It Hit,” additionally options the pianist Craig Taborn and a string quartet, enjoying a protracted composition stuffed with saxophone melodies which are generally doleful and generally strident. Different devices echo and add friction to one another, and then halfway via the efficiency, the written piece ends and a squall of atonal enjoying erupts. Eventually it flattens out into near-silence, main to a protracted denouement.

The album looks like an extension of Mr. Torn’s different current releases, “Prezens,” with a quartet, and “Only Sky,” his first solo-guitar recording. Both albums have been virtually completely improvised then edited afterward. Movement and narrative turn out to be secondary to the sensation of being ensconced in sound; your ear is caught in a battle between gravity and weightlessness.

Mr. Torn, like Mr. Monder, grew up north of New York City and was impressed by the pyrotechnics of traditional rock and fusion. And he too discovered his method towards a ruminative, private type. Mr. Torn’s father was a sound engineer who designed stereos, and David grew up considering not nearly music however about sound, as a component with its personal dimensions and layers. He had a formative expertise at 16, watching Jimi Hendrix play on the Woodstock pageant, his guitar soaked in distortion. “That made me rethink everything,” Mr. Torn mentioned.

Mr. Torn’s music has all the time tilted towards the atmospheric, and within the 1990s he began creating movie soundtracks. He performed on the scores to “The Big Lebowski,” “Traffic” and “A Knight’s Tale,” amongst others, earlier than beginning to compose whole soundtracks himself within the 2000s. It was throughout this era that he suffered a life-changing mind harm, and misplaced the flexibility to hear in a single ear. It was an awesome hardship, however Mr. Torn handled it as simply one other a part of life’s ongoing improvisation.

“Life is a continuum in most ways, so an interrupter can be a part of the continuum,” he mentioned, explaining that he had to relearn how to pay attention to music. “I think my great love of distortion became very fine-tuned.”

Performing final month on the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tenn., he performed a solo set someday, and with the “Sun of Goldfinger” trio the following. In Mr. Torn’s enjoying there have been components of Hendrix’s snaky, blues-based improvisations, and elsewhere, the thickness and wide-open empty energy of doom metallic. Whether he was evading darkness or working straight into it, this music had ranges of historical past inbuilt, and a thoughts of its personal.

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