Torture Chamber Ensemble

Thomas Helton and his jazz/chamber music/prog rock group perform new compositions at DiverseWorks

Bassist Thomas Helton’s compositions pull from free jazz, chamber music, minimalist experiments and prog rock. He’s the leader of the Torture Chamber Ensemble, but don’t let the name put you off. Helton’s music is strangely enticing, far from torture — and accessible, despite that convoluted opening description. “Selfish Shellfish,” off Helton’s Experimentations in Minimalism record, wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place if it was inserted into John Lurie’s insinuating Down by Law score.

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Interestingly, the Torture Chamber Ensemble’s upcoming performances at DiverseWorks will contain a kind of cinematic element. The group will “score,” in a sense, a live painting by artist Greg Scott. Helton describes the music as “textural and ambient” — two words which will most likely translate into the painting as well. With schemes this alluring, what’s with the brutal band name? Helton isn’t forthcoming. “I just like the name Torture Chamber Ensemble,” he says. “Is it TORTURE, chamber ensemble? Or TORTURE CHAMBER, ensemble? I imagine I could stir up some hidden meaning (or not so hidden), but I’ll the people decide what it’s about.” 8 p.m. today and tomorrow. 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-223-8346 or visit www.diverseworks.org. Pay-what-you-want.
Fri., Jan. 25, 8 p.m.; Sat., Jan. 26, 8 p.m., 2008

 
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