David Torn

What Means Solid, Traveller?

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David Torn's last album for CMP is a collection of rock-oriented ambient guitar pieces. Torn has always been more interested in atmospherics than in guitar pyrotechnics, although he is certainly capable of blistering rock leads, shown most ably here on the tribal piece "Particle Bugs." Torn sings on a few of the pieces, such as the country-blues solo piece "In the Sand of This Day" and the title track, but his vocals tend to be processed and embellish the guitars rather than step into the foreground. His guitar playing and processing is superb. Many of the songs set up an atmosphere of drones and loops, to which he adds all kinds of guitar leads, from Middle Eastern-tinged fast melodic lines to slide guitar riffs to heavy metal distortion. Drum and percussion duties are primarily from samples, which Torn put together into loops and otherwise processed. The most rock-oriented pieces are "Spell Break," which opens with quiet ambient drones and chants but then kicks in with a careening slide guitar, and the live solo "Til You Are Free," which has a loud, distorted melody over a very simple rhythm. Torn closes the album with the beautiful ambient piece "Elsewhere," bringing to the foreground the loops and drones that otherwise lurk in the background. Torn is a consummate stylist and instrumentalist, but this album -- one of the clearest solo statements from this master musician -- also shows him to be a composer and studio wizard.

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