David Torn – only sky

only sky(ECM)

The Wichita Lineman can hear her singin’ in the wire; he can hear her in the whine. Guitarist David Torn, here solo, makes the kind of sounds that conjure up electricity pylons stretching over plains, into valleys, and up and over escarpments, to disappear at the vanishing point. His music machines hum and buzz, resonate and twang. Strings and electricity; electricity and strings.

Judging by the inner sleeve picture – of sheets of notes on staves scatted across a bed cover – there is written music here, but it could just as easily be freely improvised. Sometimes it sounds as if no human hand has been near it – it’s the sound of lightning triggering generators and static – made by a cosmic meeting of nature and physics. At other times, the twang is suddenly very human and almost country, in fact almost something Glenn Campbell might have played back when he was a session man, back before he was singing Jimmy Webb songs.

It’s a strangely mesmerising album, though one that’s difficult to get close to. I can admire it but I’m not sure I can love it. Pylons, high wires and vast spaces are difficult to get close to.

Categories: CD review

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