Friday, March 08, 2019

David Torn / Tim Berne / Ches Smith - Sun Of Goldfinger (ECM, 2019)

This explosive band consists of Tim Berne on alto saxophone, Ches Smith on drums, electronics, and tanbou and David Torn on electric guitar, live-looping and electronics. They created three spontaneous group compositions with live electronics by Torn and Smith expanding their palate. On the composition "Spartan, Before It Hit," they extend the ensemble with two extra guitars, keyboards and a string quartet. The opening track is "Eye Meddle" which unfolds in layers of sounds and almost tribal sounding percussion, developing an alien atmosphere and soundscape. Breathy saxophone and alternatively heavy and light percussion creates a wide sound stage and allows Berne's saxophone to move sneakily among the thicket as the volume and tension rises. The trio creates a collective improvisation the seems to curve spacetime around itself, altering relativity at will, and Berne is particularly excellent here, playing with a wonderful sense of tone and pacing, building to raw squeals over powerful beats. The group incorporates massive squalls of electronics, hammering beats and stoic saxophone as they drive relentlessly forward with Torn invoking epic snarls of electric guitar over bracing percussion creating a mirage as if they are shimmering in the distance on a hot day. The extra instruments come into play on "Spartan, Before It Hit," which develops gradually, forming long beams of sound, that are used as a foundation to build a deep texture as the group suddenly blasts off in an explosion of vivid color. Strong saxophone with surging percussion and guitar creates a tsunami of potent and fearsome sound, in an attack where all the forces are truly engaged. Including a massive blowout for full bore saxophone, Berne's raw and immediately identifiable playing from both the heart and the gut, with long piercing tones of sound added that threaten to shatter eardrums. The long tones become alien transmissions, eerie soundscapes haunted cinematic post-apocalyptic drones that gradually just end. "Soften the Blow" builds from horns swirls, with electronic echoes that slowly take on a grittier or more gravelly element. Soundscapes drawn from the imagination and tinted with hint of loneliness. This soon changes with the introduction of tart and loud saxophone and mighty drums and electronics kicking in to boost it into orbit with a sense of mystery and intrigue. A torrid full band improvisation ensues, taking the music to unimaginable levels of volume and intensity, as massive waves of pure sound emanate from the group consisting of squalls of electronics, complex drum rhythms and saxophone scouting the territory. Torn's guitar is astonishing, using pedals and electronic manipulation to sculpt his sound to an extraordinary degree as drums slash and slap and Berne's saxophone crawls through the maelstrom like a soldier on one final mission. They come together in the final act for a collectively improvised blowout that seemingly goes beyond what is feasible. This is a dangerous group. If they can commit something this jaw dropping to disc, imagine what else could be done. It is said that Larry Young's group Love Cry Want was denied a permit to play in DC for fear of "levitating the White House." With the talent and the ability that this group has? The sky is the limit. Highest possible recommendation. This is it. Sun Of Goldfinger -

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