Legendary guitarist David Torn is no stranger to the ECM roster, with classics such as Cloud About Mercury, Best Laid Plans, prezens, and Only Sky just a few of the gems he's either led as a solo artist, with a band, or appeared on. Add Sun of Goldfinger to this list, his brand new collaboration with alto saxophonist Tim Berne and drummer Ches Smith, which features three lengthy tracks of near improvisation, free-jazz, and otherworldly explorations.
"Eye Meddle" kicks things off, 24-minutes of fury packed with screaming sax from Berne, Smith's array of percussion, and not only some scorching guitar from Torn but also plenty of his intriguing loops. Space rock meets free-jazz? Perhaps. Nightmarish at times, gorgeous at others, this is a track not to be missed. "Spartan, Before it Hit", which clocks in at a near Herculean 21-minutes, takes more of a traditional jazz approach, Berne's haunting sax drifting along over guest Craig Taborn's bed of electronics & piano and the Scorchio String Quartet. Near the mid-way point things start to take a turn for the more adventurous, as Torn's loops and fuzzed guitar come into play along with Smith's acrobatic drumming, sort of like a head on collision between Ornette Coleman and King Crimson. The final track is "Soften the Blow", again epic at 23-minutes long, complete with stabbing, squonking sax and all sorts of chaos from Torn. Certainly not for the faint of heart, but oh so enjoyable for all you avant-jazz fans.
That kind of sums up Sun of Goldfinger pretty well; it's a noisy, chaotic, dissonant, and adventurous affair, sure to turn off anyone mainly interested in nice, melodic jazz but a sure fire bet to bring joy to those into more avant-garde stylings. Major kudos to all three musicians for partaking in something this far off the beaten path, and if you are already a Torn fan, Sun of Goldfinger will be a fascinating listen.
1) Eye Meddle
2) Spartan, Before It Hit
3) Soften the Blow