In 1977, Ed Tomney released Busted Chevrolet with Harry Toledo & The Rockets band. The 12" single was produced by John Cale (of The Velvet Underground fame), and published through his label Spy Records Ltd. Soon after, Ed Tomney fronted a power pop quartet Necessaries as guitarist with three members of The Flying Hearts: Arthur Russell (appearing as keyboardist), ex-Modern Lovers bassist Ernie Brooks, and Jesse Chamberlain on drums and percussion. The band released their debut Big Sky album in 1981, which was reworked and re-issued with different tracklist as Event Horizon LP one year later.
In the early eighties, Tomney joined Rage To Live band, formed by Glenn Morrow. At the time, Morrow was still fronting his main band, The Individuals, which finally broke up in 1983. Rage To Live, hailed by some critics as the originators of 'Hoboken Sound' (alongside with The Feelies, Yo La Tengo and The dB's), released two albums through Bar/None Records. Ed Tomney also played guitar on Dancing Hoods's debut eponymous 12" EP and Arthur Russell's Dinosaur L - 24→24 Music album.
His first experimental album was produced in collaboration with artist Jonathan Borofsky, who started counting continuously from zero in ascending order in 1969 and by the eighties passed a 3,000,000 mark. In 1987, Borofsky and Ed Tomney released The Radical Songbirds Of Islam – Tomney wrote custom software to transform these numbers into a vocal composition. Using a collection of various tones sung by Borofsky, Ed Tomney arranged this computer-generated score in Opus for Voice, Movement One, Two Three.
Around the same period, Ed Tomney formed The Industrial Orchestra, a unique man-machine ensemble consisting of eight 'guitar trees' – sonic sculptures built from pawn-shop guitars rigged on steel stands and played by a robotic arm, controlled by a custom-built software. The guitar trees are accompanied by six human musicians and pre-recorded ambient soundscapes, videotape collages, field recordings, etc. Industrial Orchestra had been performing concerts/site-specific acoustic performances at various museums and theatre venues across the US. In March 1988, the Industrial Orchestra staged a live concert at Neuberger Museum of Art in New York. Ed Tomney found inspiration for his human-computer interaction orchestra in the visionary work of Soviet avant-garde composer Arsenij Avraamov. In 1922, decades ahead of contemporary musique concrete movement and sound installation art, Avraamov conducted a colossal Symphony Of Sirens, featuring an entire port city of Baku: ship horns, steam locomotives, factory sirens, two batteries of artillery and few hundred soldiers, trucks, seaplanes, an orchestra of pitched whistles and several enormous choirs.
In 1995, Ed Tomney released his debut solo album – a soundtrack for Todd Haynes' cult environmentalist psychodrama Safe, published by Mute sub-label The Fine Line. This multilayered abstract ambient album, reminiscent of critically acclaimed works by Brian Eno, Biosphere, The Orb, and The Future Sound Of London, features assorted analog and digital synthesizers, analog tape composition, DIY electroacoustic tools and instruments, prepared electric guitar and bass, as well as guitar trees and other components from The Industrial Orchestra.
Tomney had been collaborating with many US independent film-makers, and composed music score for Tamra Davis' directorial debut Guncrazy, Dracula Rising by Roger Corman, George Hickenlooper's Persons Unknown, Brett Leonard's Jailbait for Belladonna Productions, Getting Off by Julie Lynch, Spin The Bottle and Bobby G. Can't Swim for Cineblast, Exit 8A premiered at Sundance Festival, and b-movie Carnosaur 2 in 1995. He also contributed source music for Oliver Stone's JFK (1991), and created special sound design on Daniel Licht's Amityville: A New Generation soundtrack (1993). Ed Tomney had been producing soundtracks for various major broadcasting networks, and worked on American Chronicles by Lynch/Frost Productions Inc. and other notable TV series, as well as numerous science, history and documentary specials for Discovery, PBS, NOVA, and History Channel.
Some of his recent appearances in the experimental/electronic realm include a featuring on Earle Brown's Folio And Four Systems album, released by Tzadik in 2006, as well as a live concert with Michael J Schumacher at The Stone in New York in Feb 2008.