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Album Spotlight: David Torn’s 'Sun of Goldfinger'

Uneasy listening from a master of mood, sound, and texture.

David Torn, Tim Berne, Ches Smith

Sun of Goldfinger

When David Torn and saxist Tim Berne hold long, screaming high tones together in the early passages of “Soften the Blow,” the 23-minute improvisation that concludes this three-tune album, it feels like trepanning. In a good way. They open a hole in the sonic universe that expels the toxins of convention and predictability. The other tracks feature the group's core trio of Torn, Berne, and percussionist Ches Smith, joined by guitarists Mike Baggetta and Ryan Ferreira on Torn's composition "Spartan, Before It Hit," with equal combustion.

This is a hell of a recording, packed with high-risk playing that thumbs its nose at label ECM Records’ history of mostly mellow guitar exploration with raging, careening soundscapes colored by extreme dynamics, a difficult but dedicated romance with harmony, and the wildfire spread of ideas from player to player. If the notion of soaking in the sounds of a construction site (via Smith’s nearly industrial playing) while feedback clouds float by and a sax sonorously summons falcons, is appealing, Sun of Goldfinger nails it.

Must-hear tracks: “Soften the Blow,” “Spartan, Before It Hit”