David Torn Biography
Torn has contributed to recordings by artists including David Bowie, k.d. lang, John Legend, Madonna, Tori Amos, Bill Bruford, Tony Levin, Mick Karn, David Sylvian, Chocolate Genius, Michael Shrieve, Steve Roach, Patrick O'Hearn, Andy Rinehart, Matt Chamberlain, Meshell Ndegeocello and Don Cherry. He has produced a Grammy-winning recording for Jeff Beck, as well as recordings for Tim Berne, Drew Gress, Dave Douglas, Douglas September, and many others. In addition to his composition work, Torn's recording have been featured in a number of films, including Friday Night Lights, Velvet Goldmine, Adaptation, The Big Lebowski, The Departed, Fur, The Hoax, Kalifornia, Traffic, Reversal of Fortune, Tibet, and Three Kings. He studied with Leonard Bernstein (within the "Music for Young Composers" series), as well as with guitarists John Abercrombie, Pat Martino, Paul Weiss and Arthur Basile. Torn works out of his personal studios, known as Cell Labs; occasionally, he uses the pseudonym "splattercell."
David Torn was born in Amityville, New York. He is married to L. Brecht[who?], is the son of L.J. and R. Torn, the father of both Elijah B Torn and Cody Torn, the brother of M. Torn, and he is a cousin of Rip Torn, Angelica Torn, Geraldine Page, Sissy Spacek and Ina Garten, AKA The Barefoot Contessa. Torn began his career with the Ithaca-based jam band Zobo Funn Band in the 1970s, and rose to prominence as a member of The Everyman Band and Jan Garbarek's quartet in the mid-1980s. He has recorded six albums as a leader for the ECM, Windham Hill, CMP, and 75 Ark record labels. He has also recorded a series of CD-ROMs with looping and other ambient music and "integrated noise" materials that can be used as samples by other artists.
In 1992, Torn was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma; in his case, a life-threatening form of brain tumor. The surgery that followed left him deaf in the right ear, but didn't rob him of the ability to compose, record and play. Torn even mixes many widely available recordings himself, although according to him this requires sitting sideways to the studio speakers and "visualising the stereo aspects of sound" in his head rather than experimenting with them by ear.
In 2006, Torn's film score for Believe in Me won the Best Score-award at the Jackson Hole Film Festival and in 2003, his score for the film The Order was nominated for a Grammy Award.
In 2007, Torn released Prezens, a full-band project with Tim Berne that Jazzwise described as “a vibrating collage full of shimmering sonic shapes, a dark, urban electronic soundscape – a potent mix of jazz, free-form rock and technology that is both demanding and rewarding.”
In 2013, Kaivax, a community manager for Blizzard Entertainment, announced that Torn worked on the StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm soundtrack, "adding burning leads and strange textures to the Zerg palette on several tracks."
In January 2013, Torn delivered a solo guitar performance and talk at TEDx Caltech 2013: The Brain. The presentation focused on his brain tumor diagnosis and subsequent recovery. A video of the event is available on the TEDx Caltech website.
Torn is listed as a guitarist on the 2013 David Bowie album, The Next Day. He also served as composer on the 2014 film That Awkward Moment.
Only Sky, a solo record and Torn’s first ECM release since 2007’s prezens, is set for release on May 5, 2015. A US Tour is planned for Spring 2015.