David Torn: Best Laid Plans (ECM 1284)

 

David Torn
Best Laid Plans

David Torn guitars
Geoffrey Gordon percussion
Recorded July 1984 at Rainbow Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

David Torn is one of the more indefinable guitarists on planet Earth and has left an alluring hatching of marks on ECM’s wall. Vivid among them is this unusual session with percussionist Geoffrey Gordon. Their pastiche navigates a territory that lies somewhere between Elliott Sharp, Steve Tibbetts, Terje Rypdal, and Bill Frisell. Torn’s electric is a storm of spirals and tails, surges and dissolves. The smooth arpeggios and inevitable disruptions of “Before The Bitter Wind” and the title track project a life lived through dreams and nightmares alike. The glow of “The Hum Of Its Parts” unfolds through Torn’s itching and pliant core, dramatized by Gordon’s highly connected tabla. One highlight, if in name only, is “Removable Tongue,” a guitar solo that twists its way around a relatively melodic caduceus and seems to have a good influence on “In The Fifth Direction,” which is perhaps the most unified blend of rhythm and texture on the album. After the sweltering heat rash of “Two Face Flash,” Torn rattles the firmament with “Angle of Incidents,” every grating cry a search for lost questions to extant answers.

Torn’s playing is a unique beast. It is oblique in such a way that, even when fully formed, it remains somehow distant, calling to us as if from the future and gone by the time we catch up. The best we can do is to stand where we are and wait for its evocative disintegration.

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