Take a number of capable musicians, lock them up in a room, leave them there for a few days and the results are truly amazing. Fine examples of this musical recipe are the albums of Liquid Tension Experiment (LTE) and both albums of Bozzio Levin Stevens (BLS). I really love these albums and in both cases bass and Chapman stick player Tony Levin has been involved. Therefore expectations ran high for the Levin Torn White (LTW) project also with respect to their collaboration on David Torn's Cloud About Mercury, which is a very impressive album. Drummer Alan White gathered most of his fame as a member of Yes, where he once replaced Bill Bruford. The latter recorded a number of albums with Tony Levin being a member of King Crimson and later on in Bruford Levin Upper Extremities, on which David Torn was the guitarist. Confusing..?
First thing I have to say is the fact that White's drumming completely differs from Bruford's. White is much more a stable rock drummer where Bruford's rhythmic patterns are deeply rooted in jazz and fusion. Having heard the above-mentioned projects and keeping White's way of drumming in mind, I think he really does a good job here. He provides two of the world's most experimental string masters with a perfect beat. The fourteen songs on this album don't contain the regular kind of fusion or progressive music. Neither can the music on Levin Torn White be compared to the albums of LTE or BLS, since this one is much more experimental. The songs neither have a real beginning nor an end; the music strongly flows into the musical style of King Crimson or even more, the kind of soundscapes Robert Fripp produced. It's obvious that LTW doesn't contain mainstream music. However, if you take the time to dig a bit deeper, you'll hear the superb bass playing by Tony Levin. Prom Night Of The Centipedes and Monkey Mind are good examples of his fabulous playing. Guitarist David Torn is well-known for his sound experiments and on this album he gets all the freedom to use his toys in order to create different sounds.
Well, from the aforementioned sounds of Robert Fripp to the electronic guitar sounds of Eivind Aarset. Cheese It, The Corpse is a very strong piece with a heavier structure, the virtuosity of the three band members really stands out here. It's one of the more accessible pieces that could please a progressive music fan with an open mind. Some of the other songs are a bit harder to get into. The quote 'as in case of this album, we get to stretch our minds and try directions we haven't gone in before' gives the right impression for this album.
Three very gifted musicians take you on a trip to the outskirts of fusion and progressive rock and even beyond. I'm aware of the fact that this incredibly well-played music will only appeal to a minority of the progressive rock fans. Even people that are into fusion might have a hard time here, but when you are in for an experiment and you can appreciate some of the above-mentioned bands or projects, Levin Torn White will be a not to be missed album in your collection.
***+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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