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Trey Gunn

Music For Pictures

Review by Gary Hill

This CD is a collection of tracks that Trey Gunn did for film scores between 1998 and 2006. He took the original recordings and made alterations and other changes to them to create this CD. Amongst the musicians joining Gunn on this release is Pat Mastellotto (one of his bandmates from his tenure in King Crimson). This is basically all instrumental music and perhaps, due to its origins, not the first choice for a disc to really intently “listen” to. It’s quite cool nonetheless and has a few stellar moments.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Field Raiders
A thick, acoustic motif creates the basis for this one. Well, actually I don’t think it’s acoustic, but rather clean. Yet, there is an almost metallic feel to this track. It’s a fairly straight forward rocker, but with Trey Gunn you always get some intriguing twists no matter how straight ahead the main song structure is.

The Magnificent Jinn
Appropriately this has an Eastern element to it. It starts very atmospheric and the fusion meets ambient King Crimson sound rises ever upward. After a while it drops down to a rubbery rhythm section. Gunn solos over the top of this (again showing off those Eastern modes). The track turns even more atmospheric later.
Bridge Over a Red Sky
This comes in with a fairly basic, but quite fast paced rhythmic structure. Gunn weaves a brilliant musical tale over this background.

The Fifth Spin of the Sun
Fast paced percussion leads this off and holds it for a time. When the lead chops enter this is extremely metallic. It’s a powerful piece.
Capturing the Beam
Gunn turns it a bit more melodic here. The track moves rather slowly and still has Crimsonian textures. There is a heavy, almost bluesy groove to some of the later portions of this.
West of the Electric Wire
This starts off feeling a bit lighter and perhaps a little playful, but it turns quite dramatic before it ends.
Forest of Sighs
Here Gunn plays it atmospheric and sparse.
The Silver Bough
Slow moving and ambient, there are female vocals gliding around this tapestry.
The Final Circle of Paradise
The first part of this is extremely ambient. The rest of it has a definite percussive motif. 
Corn Thief
This starts off ambient, but turns into a pounding grind before it ends.
Night Blossom
Percussive elements lead this off. As it carries on other sounds and instrumentation join in the mix. It turns back toward purely rhythmic later, though.
Forests of Stone
This is pretty. It’s also dark, mysterious and a bit melancholy.

Hovering the Dry Sea
A fast paced element is the basis for this track that’s essentially textural waves built upon this rhythmic musical pattern.

Corn of the Heart
While textural selections are still present, this has a more gritty bluesy rock and roll feel.
Cigarette in a Cornfield
Ramping up the musical theme from the last track, this is a blues stomper that still has Trey Gunn’s signature stamped all over it.
Hari's Dream
This is ambient and rather strange.
Cabbage Eared Boy
We get more of a bluesy rocking element here. This is one of the more “song” oriented pieces on show. It’s quite a cool track.
Isle of the Blest
World music sounds blend with non-lyrical female vocals.
Secondary Strike
This is a bouncy piece of rather techno weirdness.
Nausicaa
Here we get a pounding texture, not unlike a hammer striking an anvil – over which we are fed odd pieces of sound. This is kind of a cool piece despite being rather odd. I’d have to say it reminds me of some of the output from RIO artists.
The Shattered Forests of Glass
 Weird echoey guitar type sounds feel bent and twisted.

The Mermen
The mode here is more percussion combined with strange ambient elements.

Hammerhead
Hard edged and frantic, this feels like King Crimson does straightforward rock and roll.
Laddered and Runged
This is another that’s fast paced and crunchy. It feels a bit like Steve Vai or Joe Satriani to me.
Spirit of Flight
This is sort of a fusion type piece. It’s one of the more melody driven numbers on the CD. It’s also one of the coolest. You might pick out bits of Jimi Hendrix on this. I know I did.
That Unmistakable Lightness
Still rather strange, this is echoey and rather pretty.
The Solarists
This one is extremely ambient. Not much more can be said about it except you need to have the volume up to hear it at all.
Training to the Roadside Picnic
A pounding starts rather in the background. As it builds upward this feels quite a bit like the band Mr. Gunn was in with Robert Fripp. It still stays fairly understated.
The Ghosts Listen
The album closer is this one almost seems like it’s Gunn’s interpretation of EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). No, there is no white noise here, but we get these little waves of sound throughout the duration. It gives the impression that the ghosts not only listen, but rather speak. Near the end we do get a sound that is somewhat like hum – perhaps adding weight to that EVP comparison. The hum theme continues throughout the closing section of the piece and is a bit hard to take at times. There is also something that feels rather like throat singing in the midst of this. At 21 minutes in length, this is by far the longest track on the disc. I’m not sure that it’s really meant to be “listened” to, though, but more of a “hey, shut off the CD” warning.
 
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