David Torn/Tim Berne/Ches Smith | Sun of GoldfingerECM Records
Sonar with David Torn | Tranceportation Vol. 1RareNoise Records
Few modern musicians are as adept at creating atmosphere as lower Hudson Valley denizen David Torn. The guitarist, whose filmic dreamscapes can be heard in The Big Lebowski, The Departed, Friday Night Lights, and other movies (perhaps his being a cousin to actors Rip Torn, Sissy Spacek, and Geraldine Page and "Barefoot Contessa" host Ina Garten has informed his soundtrack sensibility). There's always been a touch of Robert Fripp in his sustained, arcing, and heavily treated notes; no wonder Fripp collaborator (and Woodstock local) David Bowie tapped Torn for 2013's The Next Day, the late rock legend's penultimate album.
Torn teams with New York saxophonist Tim Berne and percussionist Ches Smith for Sun of Goldfinger, a set of three epic, near-25-minute journeys that wend their way across the aural equivalents of open deserts, mist-shrouded mountain peaks, drip-drop-echoing caves, and damply glistening, fog-rolled city streets. Like nature itself, this music is as mysterious and frightening as it is beautiful. Tranceportation Vol. 1 finds Torn as the returning featured guest of Swiss experimental unit Sonar; he also produced and plays on 2018's Vortex. Here, once again, the ticking tritones of guitarists Stephen Thelan and Bernard Wagner and bassist Christian Kuntner and the resolute rhythms of drummer Manuel Pasquinelli build dense lattices that Torn threads through (think Discipline-era King Crimson). The hypnotic, interlocking structures juxtaposed against his soaring, searing lines make for a riveting ride.