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David Torn

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David Torn (born 1953 in Amityville, New York) is a guitarist and composer known for electronics and performance techniques that have a highly atmospheric or textural quality. He is particularly well known among guitarists for his use of looping effects.

Torn rose to prominence as a member of Jan Garbarek’s quartet in the mid-1980’s. 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 material that can be used as samples by other artists.

In 1992 he was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, 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 play and compose (arguably, very excellent) music. Torn even mixes his own albums 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.

Torn’s music has been featured in a number of movies, including Kalifornia (1993), and Traffic (2000). In 2003, Torn’s score for the film The Order was nominated for a Grammy Award. He works out of his personal studio, known as Cell Labs.

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