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DAVID TORN

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United States


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David Torn biography
David Torn is American guitarist and composer (born 26 May 1953, Amityville, NY).He was educated by Leonard Bernstein ("Music for Young Composers"), John Abercrombie, Pat Martino, Paul Weiss & Arthur Basile. His groundbreaking compositionally textural work has had a material impact & influence upon both film scoring --- through his own scores, in addition to his creative contributions to the scores of Carter Burwell, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Howard Shore, Mark Isham, and others' --- and upon contemporary electric, electro-acoustic & electronic music, in general.
Guitarist David Torn has been re-ordering the edges of rock, jazz & alien world music ever since he heard Hendrix's "burning wall of voodoo". His sonic pioneering uses a rock sound, minus the usual constraints indeed. In 1994, he was lauded as "Best Experimental Guitarist" by Guitar Player Magazine Reader's Poll. In 1979, David joined the Everyman Band (Lou Reed's recording/touring outfit) on an international tour with Don Cherry. The Everyman Band made two influential recordings for ECM, which led to David's first record as a leader, Best Laid Plans. This release brought his playing to the attention of Norwegian saxophone luminary, Jan Garbarek, with whom David recorded & toured throughout the mid-eighties.

1987 saw David form his own band Cloud About Mercury with Mick Karn, Bill Bruford & Mark Isham. He has produced Bruford's All Heaven Broke Loose, as well as Karn's Bestial Cluster . He composed for the Grammy-winning CD Mark Isham and is the featured soloist/texturalist on many film scores including 'Short Cuts', 'Reversal Of Fortune', 'Storyville' or 'Kalifornia'.

David's commitment to pushing musical technology to its limits has led to consultancies and endorsements with leading-edge companies like Lexicon Corp., Klein Custom Guitars & Rivera R & D. He is active in "new media", having released an acclaimed CD-ROM of soundscapes, and an instructional video aptly entitled Painting with Guitar.

He is a co-conspirator with Terry Bozzio & Mick Karn in the anti-cliché power trio Polytown, of whom Downbeat Magazine said, "With his loops and sheer psychedelic abandon, (Torn) is able to create dense textures, screaming intervallic leaps & dark-hued washes of sound that are as ingenious as the are impossible to imitate."

Natural development has led to his exploration of solo recording/ performance: Tripping Over God was David's first foray into this territory. He followed wi...
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Cloud About MercuryCloud About Mercury
ECM 2001
Audio CD$12.33
$9.87 (used)
Only SkyOnly Sky
ECM 2015
Audio CD$10.59
$9.49 (used)
Best Laid PlansBest Laid Plans
Ecm Records 2001
Audio CD$65.82
$9.90 (used)
Door XDoor X
Windham Hill Records 1990
Audio CD$11.64
$4.98 (used)
PolytownPolytown
Import
Creative Music Prod. 1994
Audio CD$10.85
$8.44 (used)
PrezensPrezens
ECM Records 2007
Audio CD$11.00
$5.74 (used)
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DAVID TORN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DAVID TORN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.75 | 4 ratings
Best Laid Plans ( with Geoffrey Gordon)
1985
4.27 | 27 ratings
Cloud About Mercury
1987
3.23 | 7 ratings
Door X
1990
4.05 | 28 ratings
Polytown (with Mick Karn and Terry Bozzio)
1994
3.12 | 7 ratings
Tripping : Over : God
1995
3.19 | 7 ratings
What Means Solid, Traveller?
1996
4.17 | 12 ratings
Prezens
2007
4.00 | 4 ratings
only sky
2015

DAVID TORN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

DAVID TORN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

DAVID TORN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

5.00 | 1 ratings
Collection
1998

DAVID TORN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

DAVID TORN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 What Means Solid, Traveller? by TORN,DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1996
3.19 | 7 ratings

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What Means Solid, Traveller?
David Torn Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It really bothers me that I don't like this album more being as I'm such a big David Torn fan. We get Mitch Mitchell on drums and Cannonball Adderley doing vocals on some tracks. Like Fripp, Torn offers up a lot of electronics to the soundscapes along with some dark, metallic guitar expressions. This is a moody almost industrial sounding recording over it's 65 plus minutes but the big negative for me is the lack of enjoyment I get out of this for some reason, and the enjoyment factor means a lot when I rate an album. And no I don't like the album cover or the album's title either(haha). Terje Rypdal came to mind as well with how cold and melancholic this recording is.

"Spell Breaks" has a haunting atmosphere to start which is promptly run over by the industrial soundscape with the guitar bringing "Elephant Talk" to mind. This isn't the only track to make me think of "Discipline" by KING CRIMSON. Spoken words and drums come and go and then it turns spacey after 3 minutes but it kicks back in after 3 1/2 minutes. A frenzied guitar section around 5 minutes in. "What Means Solid, Traveller?" opens with intricate sounds including percussion as a guitar melody starts to come and go along with some angular expressions. Some vocals after 5 1/2 minutes as things get more heated. "Such Little Mirrors" has plenty of atmosphere and experimental sounds as the guitar comes and goes in a relaxed manner. Percussion after 3 minutes as it builds. It picks up more 5 minutes in before winding down late and ending like it began.

"Tiny Burns A Bridge" is a bluesy down south number with rough bluesy vocals. A laid back piece that turns fuller when the vocal step aside but contrasts will continue. I like the guitar before 6 minutes as it gets intense. "Gidya Hana" sounds like a tribute to KC circa "Discipline". Even the guitar reminds me of that album especially before 2 minutes. "Each Prince, To His Kingdom, Must Labor To Go" has this eerie atmosphere to start before guitar expressions and percussion sounds take over. "Particle Bugs @ Purulia Station" opens with atmosphere as different sounds come and go. The guitar starts to solo around 2 minutes in one of the few catchy or melodic sections on this album. Drums join in as well. A change before 4 minutes but themes are repeated. I hear bass later on for a change. "I Will Not Be Free..." is like "Tiny Burns A Bridge" in that we get a bluesy, down south vibe with those vocals again. "...Til You Are Free" opens with drums along with some wicked guitar before this rhythm kicks in. One of my favs and not like the rest. "Elsewhere, Now Than Waving" is the over 10 minute closer that stays the course of being dark, atmospheric and spacey throughout reminding me of Rypdal.

So not one of my favourite solo albums from David but if your into experimental and atmospheric music you should check this out.

 only sky by TORN,DAVID album cover Studio Album, 2015
4.00 | 4 ratings

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only sky
David Torn Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Slartibartfast
Prog Reviewer

4 stars My first encounter with David Torn was also an ECM album - Cloud About Mercury. I actually found it used sometime shortly after it's release in 1986. I didn't know who David Torn was but was well aware of his fellow bandmates - Mark Isham, Tony Levin, Bill Bruford. He might be better know by some as a gueest musician. He's worked with Tori Amos, Laurie Anderson, David Bowie, Happy Rhodes, Jeff Beck, and David Sylvian to name a few. Also had a more prominent role in Bruford Levin Upper Extremeties; Levin Torn White; as well as leading up Torn, Karn, and Bozzio.

For those who are acquainted with Torn as a guest musician he does have a fairly trademark style that once you get to know you will recognise even if you don't already know he's on as a guest musician.

As far as I know this is his only true solo project to date. He plays guitar and an electric oud (a guitar like instrument used in middle eastern and mediterranean music). No credit is given to whatever he's using for his loops.

The music is played solo without overdubs as near as I can tell. It's very ambient and should certainly be of interest to people who like Robert Fripp's solo guitar works.

 Tripping : Over : God by TORN,DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.12 | 7 ratings

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Tripping : Over : God
David Torn Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars This album is truly a solo album for David Torn. He plays all of the instruments on this one, and honestly, I believe the album suffers a bit for not having any of his usual set of sidemen (Bill Bruford, Mick Karn Tony Levin and the like). His guitar playing, as always, is exceptional. You are never going to hear blinding speed scales from Torn. His style is an endless array of bent notes and agressive chops. And I like that from him.

The problem on this album is that many of the pieces don't sound whole. It's like he created some riffs to solo around, and used those as songs. No breaks, no transitions. But his playing is just so good that it transcends the songs. The songs that are complete sounding are very good, but I feel that they might be better with a Bruford or Karn on the side.

The best track is Pasha, an Eastern sounding tune that does seem to travel well.

 Polytown (with Mick Karn and Terry Bozzio) by TORN,DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.05 | 28 ratings

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Polytown (with Mick Karn and Terry Bozzio)
David Torn Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars Apologies to David Torn and Terry Bozzio, but this is the type of album I had always wanted Mick Karn to do. For some time, it seemed like the only place you could hear Karns slithering fretless bass was behind moody, moaning new wave singers like David Sylvian, Peter Murphy and such. And the previous Torn album, "Door X", on which Karn appears, was marred by some ill advised vocal tracks.

But here we just have three extraordinary musicians playing some excellent onorthodox sounding fusion. Karn, of course plays his Middle Eastern influence fretless bass style, along with some eerie bass clarinet, while Torn plays some of his best off-kilter guitar lines. And Bozzio sounds as good as he did when he almost outplayed Jeff Beck on the "Guitar Shop" tour.

Along with "Cloud About Mercury", this is where to discover the music of David Torn.

 Door X by TORN,DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1990
3.23 | 7 ratings

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Door X
David Torn Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars Okay, you start with the incredibly original sounding guitarist David Torn, add in equally amazing drummer Bill Bruford and bassist Mick Karn (along with some other guest artists), and how can you go wrong? Well, by recording an album half made up of vocal based tunes, for one thing. And releasing it on Windham Hill Records for another. Actually, that second fault doesn't purely make this a bad album, but they certainly aren't known for exciting music.

In reality the album isn't half bad. Literally. The five instrumental tunes are quite good. I can enjoy Torn's guitar playing in just about any setting. And Karn's bass playing is always a treat. Of course we all know Bruford.

The problem is that Torn's vocal pieces just aren't very interesting. Aside from the cool performances, the songs just don't quite make it. And let's talk about the cover version of Jimi Hendrix' Voodo Chile. Here it's stripped down so much that it loses all of it's ferocity. Karn and Bruford lay back as well. And where you would most expect a fiery Torn solo, there is none.

Half great, half disappointing - barely three stars.

 Cloud About Mercury by TORN,DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.27 | 27 ratings

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Cloud About Mercury
David Torn Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

4 stars This was a surprising album from David Torn. Surprising because around that time, in the mid- eighties, it seemed like ECM record was pushing all of their jazz guitarists to sound like then golden boy Pat Metheny. Well here, Torn does play guitar synth at times, but with King Crimson's rhythm section of Bill Bruford and Tony Levin, the music has much more bite than any of those Metheny vehicles.

The album starts with Suyafhu Skin... / Snapping The Hollow Reed with Bruford playing tuned synth pads in a way similar to the way he used them in his Earthworks band (which debuted the same year as this album). The rhythms build up to the point where he switches to tuned real drums, and then into a full drum kit as the song builds. Levin is his usual cool, funky self playing mostly stick while Torn and Mark Isham play solos over the top. And that's just the first song.

It should suffice to say that this is an excellent find for any eighties King Crimson fan, or avant-fusion enthusiast.

4.5 stars.

 Polytown (with Mick Karn and Terry Bozzio) by TORN,DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.05 | 28 ratings

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Polytown (with Mick Karn and Terry Bozzio)
David Torn Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Advanced power trio with unorthodox sound. David Torn has his roots in fusion and jazz both, but he always adapts new technologies in his music. Terry Bozzio is well known drummer, but you will be surprised how great he is here on this album! Usually he is more on the back almost in all his participated projects,but there Torn gave him enough space to show his abilities, and it works!

Fretless bassist Mick Karn is known by his synth-pop band Japan, but later he had some experience working with David Torn as well. In all music there is slow to mid-tempo complex often liquid sound with rhythm breakages, electronic loops, ascetic guitar, aerial and very concentrated at the same time.

Always staying in the frames of jazz rock,trio explore genre's and new technologies' possibilities till the borders. Great thing is even if compositions are complex, you will hardly find complexity in the name of complexity on this album. Intelligent, inventive and tasty - its a best compliments I could say about this release.

Recommended for every modern jazz rock fan, bored from classical fusion power trios repetitive releases.

 Cloud About Mercury by TORN,DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.27 | 27 ratings

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Cloud About Mercury
David Torn Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars David Torn is a highly thought of experimental guitarist from the USA. The fact Tony Levin, Bill Bruford and Mark Isham are his band on this album should tell you how respected he is in the music industry.This album is fairly unique sounding to my ears anyway. Experimental and atmospheric Jazz with a World-Music vibe is what we get. I did think of Terje Rypdal on a few occassions with David's guitar work. He's different as he often creates soundscapes with his guitar instead of soloing.

"Suyafhu Skin...Snapping The Hollow Reed" opens with lots of spacey atmosphere. The acoustic guitar is different sounding that's for sure,it has that World flavour to it. Piccolo helps out too. The electric guitar 3 1/2 minutes in sounds amazing. Back to the previous soundscape a minute later. Electric guitar is back. Drums are prominant after 7 minutes. "The Mercury Grid" opens with horns followed by percussion before a minute. It gets pretty intense before 5 minutes.

"3 Minutes Of Pure Entertainment" features Bruford on the synth-drums. We also get horns and atmosphere. Guitar after 2 1/2 minutes. Normal drums 4 1/2 minutes in then back to the synth-drums. "Previous Man" has a good beat with horns and keys. Guitar after 3 minutes. Trumpet blasts 6 1/2 minutes in as drums pound. "The Delicate Code" is catchy to start. It settles before 2 minutes. The guitar comes in reminding me of Rypdal. "Egg Learns To Walk!...Suyafhu Seal" opens with percussion and horns as the guitar starts to solo. Nice. It settles some after 2 minutes. The horn replaces the guitar. Great sound ! Guitar is back 4 1/2 minutes in. It then calms right down a minute later. Sounds proceed to come and go. Lots of atmosphere. It ends just like the album began.

This is a very interesting album to listen to.

 Cloud About Mercury by TORN,DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1987
4.27 | 27 ratings

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Cloud About Mercury
David Torn Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Very rare album from almost forgotten great experimentalist David Torn. Searching on his own sound in the field of experimental guitar music, David Torn tested many electronic devices and techniques. But it is a case, when deep experimentation gave excellent musical result.

Just imagine King Crimson's rhythm section (Tony Levin + Bill Bruford), David Torn on guitar ( he has very own sound, but nearest example is Robert Fripp) and excellent jazz trumpetist Mark Isham as one band. That is it, this album.

Very first album sounds are guitar soundscapes, similar to Fripp's. But very soon the music goes to the fields of world-avant-fusion (where Torn plays strings in a manner of French- Vietnamese guitar player Nguyen Le).

Step by step trumpet takes his leading role, and doesn't surrender till very end of the album. Fripp-like guitar and bass stick build very multi textured background for trumpet improvisational sound it.

But guitar will have its moments many times. Sometimes duelling with trumpet, or going over it , it builds great aerial sound constructions ( elegantly mixed by EMC characteristic sound mixing). Rhythm structures are complex, influenced by African and Caribbean drumming.

All the album sounds as one excellent piece of music. Possibly, the best fusion album coming from eighties!

Very recommended for any jazz rock fusion fan. Masterpiece!

 Polytown (with Mick Karn and Terry Bozzio) by TORN,DAVID album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.05 | 28 ratings

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Polytown (with Mick Karn and Terry Bozzio)
David Torn Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Kazuhiro
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The person who is gripping a target key of some music character for this album might be Mick Karn. The member's activity since it acted about Japan that dissolved in the 80's expanded the range for very a variety of music characters.

Especially, David Sylvian and other members' frictions exactly extend to many fields with the difference of the directionality of music and have extended. Each musician and was ..Music.. opposite from all directions.

It might have been a place of a certain kind of expression for the musician to whom the existence of CMPRecords of Germany that had shown the index in their musician's activity at this time as directionality also expressed experimental music as an avant-garde like them.

If the activity at this time of them is seen, it will be clarified to connect "Cloud About Mercury" of the name of David Torn announced from ECM in 1987 with this Polytown. Torn originally requested the recording of Bass to Karn that went away from the activity of music a little in "Cloud About Mercury" though the line of Bruford-Isham-Levin participated in the recording. After all, it was not achieved. However, Torn at this and Karn have come in contact. Karn gradually showed the activity of music in various districts. And, the chemical reaction that was called this Polytown with Bozzio was caused.

It is ..composition of the tune that gives darkness and a heavy impression consistently.. finished in this album. It is evidence that the chemical reaction that they caused at the same time is splendidly expressed. The fact that offers the listener indeed high-quality ensemble though it had only for the period of a little rehearsal might be proof whose they are genuine musicians.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to snobb for the last updates

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