David Torn’s only sky

11th February 2016

Title: Only Sky

Label: ECM

Guitarist, Torn, has been doing his thing for around 30 years now but he’s not exactly known for showering the world of music with a multitude of albums. In fact, this album comes eight years after his last release, Prezens. Instead of presenting his work in a band format, which that last release certainly was, here he has decided to go it alone. Alone, that is with an guitar and an electric oud plus a host of effects.

This is a beautiful album that from the beginning of At Least There Was Nothing, sends the ear off into soundscape mode. But because this is sound generated by guitar, there isn’t the sweetness that sometimes infiltrates upon a snyth-generated soundscape. Instead, the guitar gives a more definite approach and one that is rather more proactive too.

Spoke with Folks gravitates to a more melodic, song-based arrangement with a roots-based theme with some swampy, rather grizzily vocalisations that are sure to follow which, of course, never do and then the sound is full of tangential grammar which add sonic oddities into the flow, giving it that ‘stuck CD’ sound.

Ok, Shorty is more introspective rock guitar solo of the Floydian variety but one that adds a dreamlike soundscape sheen over the top to fuzz out the detail. That said, rock guitar fans will just love this track. It has talent and skill in abundance but, unlike other masterbatury efforts from lead guitars who are more show than substance, Torn shows them how it’s done.

Was A Cave, There… is pure experimental work that sees Torn get his teeth firmly into avant grade structures, playing with sounds and juggling harmonics.

This album is full of variation. Torn in the guitar play room, as it where.