David Torn / Tim Berne / Ches Smith Sun of Goldfinger

David Torn / Tim Berne / Ches Smith Sun of Goldfinger
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Guitarist David Torn has carved out quite the niche for himself, and now, on Sun of Goldfinger, his first record for ECM in almost five years, he's part of an interesting trio with saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Ches Smith.
 
Sun of Goldfinger opens with "Eye Meddle," where Torn's guitar plays against pulsating electronic sounds before Berne joins in, each taking short solos. Here, Torn's guitar has some interesting textures, alternately sounding sparse, processed and looped.
 
Meanwhile on "Soften the Blow," the trio start with looped phrases and Torn's moody playing. The song builds into a piece full of texture and space: lots of room for Berne's sax, while drums and guitars slide in and out.
 
But key to the record is "Spartan, Before It Hit," a sprawling piece that incorporates a few guests and has the album's most interesting playing. It starts slow, but about three minutes in, Craig Taborn starts hitting soft piano notes .Soon, the drums kick in and Berne plays short, probing phrases while a string quartet lingers ominously. Torn's guitar screeches and Berne pushes his alto into its higher registers. But Torn gets the final say with some gentle, atmospheric strumming.
 
Over the three lengthy tracks, Torn and company create some interesting soundscapes and longtime fans will enjoy it. For everyone else, your mileage may vary: it can be a compelling listen, but it's not an easy one, and demands attention throughout. (ECM)