AMN Reviews: David Torn / Mick Karn / Terry Bozzio — Polytown (1994; CMP Records)

This review was originally published in Expose Magazine, October 1994. It has been updated and edited.

I’ll have to admit to seeing this trio live before listening to the release. And while this recording does not quite capture the intensity and power of the show, it doesn’t fall particularly short either. Torn, Karn and Bozzio, three experienced studio/road musicians, have approached their new instrumental project with a vitality that is missing from many ‘supergroups.’

Polytown‘s essence is in its name: polyphony. Torn’s atmospheric, delay-processed guitars, both harsh and soothing, Karn’s wandering, low-end growls and soft underpinnings (strangely reminiscent of Magma’s Yannick Top), and Bozzio’s melodically eclectic, non-western styled percussion combine to emphasize the band as a unit rather than any single member. While Bozzio’s drum performance is busy and continuously surprising, his virtuoso efforts do not interfere with the more subtle approaches of Torn and Karn. Fans of Torn’s Best Laid Plans and Cloud About Mercury will find Polytown fitting comfortably next to those two on the shelf.

Falling in the nether regions between rock, jazz, ethnic fusion and space music, Polytown is a forward-looking release that not only promises; it delivers. They stretch their abilities as well as musical genres with an ever-changing, complex amalgam. Highly recommended.