A man, his guitar...and his electric oud. That's the extent of what David Torn unleashes throughout his latest release for ECM Records, Only Sky. If you've followed the career of this guitarist/composer/improvisor, you no doubt are of aware of how Torn has the ability to create massive exploratory sounds with minimal instruments, and he proves it once again here. While he's worked with many other artists in the past (David Sylvain, David Bowie, Tony Levin, Mick Karn, Jan Garbarek, Bill Bruford, Mark Isham), here on Only Sky he's all by himself, armed with just his electric guitar & electric oud, the latter an odd looking little fretless instrument that allows him to add even more textures & sounds to his repertoire.
Far from being one of Torn's wilder recordings, Only Sky does contain some of the his trademark sonic explorations, but he also utilizes loops & effects to create space and tension which gives the album an ominous feel at times. The lengthy "Was a Cave, There?" is a perfect example of this, as repetitive notes allow for all sorts of odd sounds to emanate from Torn's guitar. "Reaching Barely, Sparely Fraught" dives into atmospheric post rock, as stark, metallic shards of molten guitar drift across the horizon, yearning and searching for a place to settle down and call home. It's a touching piece of music that shows Torn's knack for creating beauty out of something that's quite dissonant and ferocious on the surface. "I Could Almost See the Room" contains some of the albums more ominous, frightening sounds, as chilling loops and distorted lead lines provide a nightmarish soundtrack...classic Torn. Some of the more ethereal, meditative pieces, such as the title track, "At Least There Was Nothing", and "So Much What", allow for the guitarist to venture into spacier, atmospheric waters, while "A Goddamned Specific Unbalance" provides for the albums most 'jazzy' venture.
Not an album you'll likely pop on while entertaining guests at your next family gathering, Only Sky instead will prove to be a charming companion for an evening of solitude, watching the stars, reading a fine book, and sipping a glass of your favorite wine or spirit. Another stunning release from one of our most cherished musical chameleons.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1. At Least There Was Nothing 7:52
2. Spoke With Folks 6:46
3. Ok, Shorty 3:20
4. Was A Cave, There? 12:42
5. Reaching Barely, Sparely Fraught 8:12
6. I Could Almost See The Room 13:26
7. Only Sky 9:16 y
8. So Much What 5:23
9. A Goddamned Specific Unbalance 9:13