Some combinations are truly unique, a breed apart that stretches even known factors into interesting new spaces. This is absolutely the case with Levin Torn White, the debut collaboration of powerhouse, ultra-high-end players Tony Levin (bass, Chapman stick), David Torn (guitars, textural events) and Alan White (drums, percussion). The album, which arrives today on Lazy Bones Recordings, is a fearless rush that’s a bit metallic, a bit avant-garde, a bit groovy, hell, a bit of a LOT of things. Bringing with them a pedigree that includes Peter Gabriel & King Crimson (Levin), an ECM Records mainstay and collaborator with David Bowie, John Legend and Jeff Beck (Torn), and Yes (White, who’s also done sessions with Plastic Ono Band, George Harrison and countless others), Levin Torn White offers genuinely adventurous instrumental music that vibrates sympathetically with Les Claypool, Umphrey’s McGee, Garage A Trois and other jam/new music standouts. Except this album really sounds like no one else, including the trio’s own past work – this is something new.
A healthy amount of credit must go to co-producer and arranger Scott Schorr, who also plays piano & keyboards on the album. Schorr has steered these veterans into fresh waters and put a strong wind at their backs. Only occasionally do the musicians resort to old habits, clearly excited to be sailing into unknown territory. Titles like “Ultra Mullett,” “Cheese It, The Corpse” and “Brain Tattoo” hint at this set’s playfulness as well as its penchant for heaviness. The amps here most assuredly go to “11” but never in a haphazard or showy manner; volume and distortion are just two tools in their well stocked kit. One senses how much these players listened to one another, moving with sureness over even slippery trails. It’s a bloody exciting album and one any fan of thoughtful, original jamming should explore. (Dennis Cook)