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TREY GUNN

Eclectic Prog • United States


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Trey Gunn biography
Trey GUNN is probably best known for his contribution to KING CRIMSON's album "Thrak", but he has also toured and recorded with SUNDAY ALL OVER THE WORLD, Toni Childs, The ROBERT FRIPP STRING QUINTET, David Sylvian, Vernon Reid, Michael Brook, Erick Johnson and David Hykes of the HARMONIC CHOIR. A native of Texas, he began his musical life at age seven playing classical piano. His interest in music grew through various instruments: electric bass, electric and acoustic guitar and keyboards. He is an accomplished player of both the Chapman Stick and an instrument known as the Warr Guitar, a custom-made 10-string 'touch' guitar with the range of a piano. In addition to helping run a Seattle collective music label called First World, he is currently sharing his time between his own TREY GUNN band, the next phase of KING CRIMSON and various session work (he plays on the John Paul Jones CD, "Zooma").

He made his solo debut with "One Thousand Years" in '94, followed two years later by "The Third Star". After releasing a third album, "Raw Power", he resurfaced still a year later with "The Joy of Molybdenum" and then with a live album entitled "Live Encounter". His latest effort, "Untune the Sky" (03), is a retrospective of his solo material and a good introduction for neophytes. His music can certainly be labelled 'fusion' although the elements it fuses are much varied: jazz, avant-garde prog, ambient, loose-limbed funk and world music, all handled in a generally unorthodox way. Much of the material rides on deep, solid bass lines over which are laid a variety of interesting sonic textures, melodies and percussion.

CRIMSON and FRIPP fans will certainly find some familiar elements here, although this music will appeal to a wider audience as it covers a wide spectrum of genres. Definitely recommended.

: : : Lise (HIBOU), CANADA : : :

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TREY GUNN discography


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TREY GUNN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.58 | 29 ratings
One Thousand Years
1994
3.93 | 28 ratings
The Third Star
1996
3.90 | 37 ratings
The Trey Gunn Band - The Joy of Molybdenum
2000
3.89 | 19 ratings
Music For Pictures
2008
2.82 | 24 ratings
Modulator (with Marco Minnemann)
2010
2.95 | 11 ratings
Invisible Rays (with Morgan Ågren and Henry Kaiser)
2011
3.89 | 8 ratings
The Waters, They Are Rising
2015

TREY GUNN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.06 | 8 ratings
The Trey Gunn Band - Live Encounter
2001
5.00 | 2 ratings
The Trey Gunn Band - Road Journals 2002
2002

TREY GUNN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

TREY GUNN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.54 | 16 ratings
Raw Power
1999
3.59 | 16 ratings
Untune the Sky
2003
4.43 | 7 ratings
I'll Tell What I Saw
2010

TREY GUNN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 1 ratings
Punkt 1
2020
4.00 | 1 ratings
Firma
2020

TREY GUNN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Firma by GUNN, TREY album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2020
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Firma
Trey Gunn Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars Recorded on 17th March 2020, the day after 'Punkt 1', Gunn uses exactly the same recording techniques to record an album which is a companion to the one from the day before but with a very different outcome indeed. While the first one was about abstraction, Gunn says this one leads towards the ground, and being grounded is what this is about. There is far more melody contained with the music, far more expression and less in the way of jagged sharpness. The music is allowed to breathe and move around, with strings resonating against one other and creatin harmonies that swell in the air. That Gunn is a master musician has never been in doubt, and here his improvising brings together a real beauty as well. There is no rush with this album, it is all about laying back into the sound and allowing the music to take the listener on a far gentler yet no less interesting path than the day before.

Again this is music which greatly benefits from being played on headphones and being really listened to as opposed to something being played in the background, as it is only with close attention that one really gets the most out of this. Gunn continues to explore the possibilities of his instrument, and while he continues to push boundaries here is an album which is far easier to get into than 'Punkt 1' while still being as adventurous. The two albums are both contrasting and similar, like siblings, and both are worthy of deep investigation.

 Punkt 1 by GUNN, TREY album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2020
4.00 | 1 ratings

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Punkt 1
Trey Gunn Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

— First review of this album —
4 stars On 16th March 2020, Trey went into the studio with his 10-string Warr guitar. He set up the recording so he was using two channels, the first being direct and the second using a Rode microphone on a Phil Jones Double Four amplifier, and then set down to play. When talking about this and the related album, 'Firma', he says "These pieces will reward detailed and repeated listening. Likewise, they will punish casual listening." He also states that this album is geared towards abstraction, and on that he is not kidding at all. This is a highly experimental release, using sounds and techniques only possible on his instrument of choice. It is jagged, sharp and to the point, literally. It takes in the listener, shakes them, and challenges their very idea of what is acceptable. He lets notes hang in the air but also delivers arpeggios and attacks which are brutal. Space is used as another instrument, sometimes in a friendly fashion and others where it is powerful and dominant.

Notes get left resonating on one string while he utilises others, and at times he is contrasting himself with both staccato and legato at the same time. This is not an easy album to listen to, and there will be some who even if they get to it will only do so once and wonder what is going on and whether they wish to subject themselves to it anymore. I am fortunate enough to hear quite a lot of music that pushes boundaries and I soon found myself deep inside his world, which is not always peaches and cream but is challenging and asking question both of the musician and listener. This is a grower, and for those prepared to take the time there is something special in here, but just do not ever try to play this as background noise or at a party unless you want people to leave. This is for those who wish their music to be out there, really out there.

 The Waters, They Are Rising by GUNN, TREY album cover Studio Album, 2015
3.89 | 8 ratings

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The Waters, They Are Rising
Trey Gunn Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars King Crimson alumnus and touch guitar master Trey Gunn released this album in 2015 and is a combination of live performances based on Peter Gabriel's "Here Comes The Flood" and music for a film score, 'Every Beautiful Thing'. Gunn is known for producing original works in his own unique manner yet the work for the film saw him producing a cover of Bob Dylan's "Not Dark Yet" where he was joined by singer Dylan Nichole Bandy who also sings on the last song on the set, "The First Return". These two vocal numbers are the bookends to what is a compelling album in so many ways, which is all Trey. It is atmospheric, entrancing, and compelling, taking the listener into new dimensions and sonic possibilities. Gunn here demonstrates all the techniques and skills he brought to bear with Crimson, and demonstrates many of the musical experimentations of Fripp and Adrian Belew, and given he was in the same band as both of them for so many years that is hardly surprising. He also works in a similar musical field as Markus Reuter, and of course Reuter is a member of Stick Men with King Crimson musicians Tony Levin and Pat Mastelotto.

The guitarists all have something in common, a refusal to stick to what is the accepted norm of a guitar and how it should be played, yet in Gunn's experimentation and adventures he also maintains a beauty and delicacy which does not always fit in well with pushing boundaries. This is music to be played on headphones when one has the time to really pay attention and listen, which so few people seem to do these days. This is not a throwaway disposable item, but something which has been lovingly crafted and cared for. About this album he says, "The challenge of putting together what I call a boutique recording is far greater than music supported by the mainstream. Not only do the pieces need to be written, performed, recorded, and produced, but the architecture of all the elements of the music have to be built from scratch. If you are writing a mainstream, genre-based detective novel all the elements are already in place. The writer knows what she has to do, and the audience knows whether they have done it or not. With what I call boutique artists (those who work with the unknown), not only do new kinds of paragraphs have to be constructed to follow the vision, but new vocabularies and new kinds of grammar also need to be created. Nothing can be pulled down off of the shelf and slapped into the music. Everything gets built up from the ground floor. This kind of process requires extra time and a concentrated effort. So, instead of saying 'Yeah, sure people are only expecting to pay X amount for a recording, so I shall do my best to make do with that', I am instead deciding to say 'This is how much work goes into it and this is what I believe the value is.' No different from a craft beer, an exquisitely made espresso, a boutique guitar amplifier, or a custom-made pair of pants. The process is involved."

We all know how much better a fine craft ale is from a standard Heineken or Budweiser, as we can savour the work that has been put into it by a master brewer. Here we have another master craftsman at his work, and the result is sublime.

 Untune the Sky by GUNN, TREY album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2003
3.59 | 16 ratings

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Untune the Sky
Trey Gunn Eclectic Prog

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

2 stars Trey is probably best-known as being a member of King Crimson for the last ten years, but as well as other bands he has also recorded six solo albums. This album is a retrospective of those albums, and features Trey on warr guitar, Chapman stick, vocals and Bob Muller (drums), Dave Douglas (trumpet), Tony Geballe (sax, guitar) and Joe Mendelson (guitar). The warr guitar is an instrument that Trey developed with Mark Warr and is a 10-string 'touch' guitar with the range of a piano. This gives him the opportunity to play music that a conventional guitar would not be able to cope with.

This is fusion music, and it is very clever. There is no doubt that Trey is a fine musician who knows exactly what he wants to achieve, but the only problem is that when experimenting with new forms and styles it can either be brilliant or can make the music very hard to listen to. No prizes for guessing which camp this falls into. I know that many people get a lot of pleasure in music that is challenging, but having struggled all the way through this album a couple of times I doubt that I will do so again.

Originally appeared in Feedback #78, April 2004

 Invisible Rays (with Morgan Ågren and Henry Kaiser) by GUNN, TREY album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.95 | 11 ratings

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Invisible Rays (with Morgan Ågren and Henry Kaiser)
Trey Gunn Eclectic Prog

Review by zbambus

4 stars This was a welcome record indeed. Lots of angular rythms and heavy jams keeps this record jumping all the way through. This is not your common progressive jazz-rock record. It is much less polished than the term jazz-rock indicates. Instead it is a adventurous progressive jam.

I have really enjoyed the two records provided by the Stick Men lately, and there are similarites to these records, particularly the throbbing all-present soaring basslines provided by Gunn. A little less polished, but that is not a bad thing at all.

With KC (or nearly KC) providing a such mellow album as "Scarcity of Miracles" it is really good to hear that former (and still) members of that mighty beast are throwing caution to the wind in their other collaborations and brewing up storms for us to enjoy.

 Invisible Rays (with Morgan Ågren and Henry Kaiser) by GUNN, TREY album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.95 | 11 ratings

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Invisible Rays (with Morgan Ågren and Henry Kaiser)
Trey Gunn Eclectic Prog

Review by J-Man
Prog Reviewer

2 stars Invisible Rays is the result of a spontaneous collaboration between guitarist Henry Kaiser, bassist Trey Gunn, and drummer Morgan Ågren while they all happened to be in Scandinavia for a musical education conference. Having never previously collaborated together, these three gifted musicians, each with an impressive background in progressive rock and jazz music, found themselves with some studio time in Sweden and ceased the opportunity to improvise and record their jam sessions together. This ad hoc trio created Invisible Rays in a rather short period of time, and the result is an album of long, often jarring improvisations that should appeal to fans of avant-jazz rock on the more wacky side. Invisible Rays is an extremely long and challenging listening experience, and while it often lacks the compositional groundwork to sound like a coherent observation, this is still recommended to the more adventurous listener.

This trio have created a rather unique album with Invisible Rays, and while it can best be described as avant-garde jazz rock, I can't say I've ever heard very much like it. The compositions are very loose, especially on songs like the sprawling 22-minute title track, and it leaves plenty of room for the musicians to improvise to their heart's content. Morgan Ågren's drumming is often highly complex and challenging, and his drum patterns are more often used as a lead instrument than anything resembling a rhythm section - above all of the madness occurring in the drum department are complicated basslines from Trey Gunn and sprawling guitar improvisations from Henry Kaiser. With a few exceptions, the band still manages to sound like a cohesive unit, even if each member is often playing music that is seemingly independent from the rest of the trio. My biggest gripe with Invisible Rays is that, even though the musicianship is impeccable and the music can be quite fun at times, the songs lack any form of structure for the listener to grab onto. A decent chunk of the album feels like a bunch of disconnected musical fragments were hastily thrown together without any rhyme or reason, and while it can make for an intriguing experience from time to time, it hardly leaves any sort of lasting impression on the listener.

The sporadic and challenging nature of Invisible Rays may not have been such an issue if the album weren't over 71 minutes long, but the daunting playing time can really make this collection of improvisations a difficult listen for those not up to the challenge. Though I end up being left slightly underwhelmed (or overwhelmed, depending on how you look at it) by what this trio has to offer, I'd still be quite curious to hear what they create if they're given more studio time to compose and polish up their thoughts. There are plenty of great ideas throughout Invisible Rays, but it seems that the trio hasn't yet mastered the ability of turning those great ideas into great music. Still, if extremely challenging, improvisation-based jazz rock is up your alley, then you may want to give this a shot before taking my word for it. This is an acquired taste for sure, so I'd say a middle-of-the-road 2.5 stars are pretty fair. With a bit more focus and cohesiveness, there's no doubt that Invisible Rays could've been a much more satisfying album than it currently is.

 The Trey Gunn Band - The Joy of Molybdenum by GUNN, TREY album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.90 | 37 ratings

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The Trey Gunn Band - The Joy of Molybdenum
Trey Gunn Eclectic Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'm pretty sure the first time I heard about Trey Gunn was when I was going through some of KING CRIMSON's later albums. He's known for his innovative playing on those Warr guitars.The band here is a trio of Trey who also plays mellotron, theremin, smokey guitar and short wave.Tony Geballe plays a variety of guitars including a saz (I have no idea). And Bob Muller plays drums, percussions, tablas, shakers and a bunch of ethnic instruments i've never heard of before. So yes the sound here does have a Middle Eastern flavour with lots of atmosphere and it's all instrumental.Very intricate and percussive sounding.

"The Joy Of Molybdenum" has some impressive percussion early on. I'm not sure what all i'm hearing here but sounds come and go. It settles some after 3 minutes before kicking back in late. "The Glove" opens with atmosphere as faint sounds build. It kicks in at 1 1/2 minutes with intricate yet powerful sounds. "Hord Winds Redux" features touch guitar and many other sounds throughout. "Rune Song : The Orgin Of Water" has some cool atmosphere early with sparse percussion. It picks up before 1 1/2 minutes and contrasts continue.The guitar is angular late. "Untune The Sky" features percussion and atmosphere. It gets pretty intense then it calms down late to end it.

"Sozzle" has so much going on. Very intricate then it settles down before 1 1/2 minutes. Nice bass here too. It kicks back in before 4 minutes. Nice. "Gate Of Dreams" opens with drums, percussion, bass and touch guitar.This sounds so good. How intricate is this after 4 1/2 minutes ! "Brief Encounters" is kind of haunting with mellotron. Percussion, guitar and shakers come in. Lots of atmosphere still. A very cool track. "Thelikeli Madde" again has atmosphere galore then this strummed guitar (I don't think it's a guitar) comes in followed by a calm 1 1/2 minutes in. It starts to build 2 minutes in then that strummed instrument is back with angular guitar helping out.

I like this a lot if only because it's different. Highly recommended.

 One Thousand Years by GUNN, TREY album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.58 | 29 ratings

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One Thousand Years
Trey Gunn Eclectic Prog

Review by lazland
Prog Reviewer

3 stars If there is one thing that links all of the musicians who have played for Captain Bob in Crimson over the years, it is that they are all exceedingly clever. Trey Gunn is no exception, and his many talents are displayed very effectively on this, his debut solo album.

I bought this a while ago as a direct result of listening to Gunn's work on the Discipline label sampler (Sometimes God Hides), which was one of my earlier reviews on the site. I'm glad that I did get this, because when you feel like listening to someone expressing himself utterly freely, without the pressure of big record label expectations, and experimenting as if his life depended upon it, then this album is for you.

Of course, there are obvious similarities between this album and his parent band. For a start, the word and sound eclectic screams out at you. In addition, I cannot believe that Fripp himself did not contribute on lead guitar, so similar are the passages to his work. He, nor, indeed, anyone else, is credited, though.

Trey Gunn is a master stick bass player, and it is this instrument that is at the heart of all the weird happenings and goings on in the album. The vocals provided by Serpentine to support Gunn are also highly worthy of mention. Together, they create an eerie soundscape.

Percussion also features largely in the album. Gunn's band mate, Pat Mastelotto, provides some superbly understated drum work on the outstanding Killing For London, blending perfectly with Gunn's stick to create a morbidly fascinating rhythm. Bob Muller provides the rest of the percussion work, and a very fine job he does as well.

This is not the type of album you will want to take your partner to dance to. Nor is it one that will have you marvelling at the symphonic atmosphere, which is wholly absent.

What it will do, though, when you are in the mood for such music, is have you fascinated and interested in how a set of ambient sounds can be mixed together to set a wholly interesting and clever scene.

Rating this type of album is always difficult. It is very good, and, as I say, very clever. It is not, though, an album you will have in your disc player with any great frequency.

Therefore, I rate this album a very strong three stars. This is not just recommended for Crimson completionists, but also for those who love ambient, electronic, and eclectic prog.

 Modulator (with Marco Minnemann) by GUNN, TREY album cover Studio Album, 2010
2.82 | 24 ratings

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Modulator (with Marco Minnemann)
Trey Gunn Eclectic Prog

Review by R-A-N-M-A

2 stars This is a bit of a special review for me. It's the first time I've had the opportunity to be the first member to review an album. As I've mentioned before, likely several times now, I have a thing for intriguing album covers, and that is what has lead me to review Modulator by Trey Gunn. I think it's a great idea to take a shot in the dark every now and then and explore new musical horizons and a nifty album cover is just as good an excuse as any to get you to go out and do it. After all isn't that what Prog Archives is all about? Sadly they cannot all be winners.

I am loath to say that Modulator is a bad album, because I don't really think it is. The problem, as it happens comes in at my end. Modulator is an extended jam session between Trey Gunn and Marco Minnemann. Minneman forms the back bone of the jam with Gunn doing the really heavy sonic explorations over top of Minneman's usually soft but quick drum line. If you have ever read any of my previous reviews you will note that I think highly improvisational works often do more harm than good. I understand that it is an integral part of the creative process, but the really interesting stuff is often hidden in small pockets packed within extended stretches of what I would consider to be largely incoherent noise.

I also know that there are a good deal of members here at PA who find improvisational music to their tastes, and this album is for all of you. On this review I will forego my standard track by track review. Mostly because the album has 22 tracks in total with some clocking in less than a minute and most in the one to three minute range. The album goes through many distinct changes with themes carrying on over from track to track and themes at times making changes within tracks themselves. Modulator is best approached as one whole. What I will do instead is point out some of the locations where I thought the juicier nuggets and deeper pitfalls were located.

The intro track Contact sticks out for its strange and distinct keyboard work. The -/+, +/-stretch is one of the weaker earlier bits. The latter half of Lumen and on through Switch, Daughter and Pole is made up of a very intriguing plucking. The best of the bunch is arabesque Pole. Scatter does continue at first with the plucking but is not as good as the aforementioned tracks.

Spectra, is for me the nadir of Modulator. The drumming is erratic and unfocused and the guitar playing is riddled is dissonant sounds and agonizing drones. Another strike against Spectra is that it happens to be the longest single track on the album at 6:08 and the only one clocking in longer than five minutes.

The next mostly good stretch, if you leave out the miniscule Californ-a-Tron (0:46), comes in on Mono-Punkte, which has a very cool combination of heavy riffing and staccato piano chords. You can hear just a bit of the Power to Believe come through on this track too. It's follower Coupling isn't much like it, it's like a quite shamisen rock out, but also makes for a good listen.

The intro to Slingcharm is the most recognizable riff based portion of Modulator, it's pretty cool, for a little while. Twisted Pair, must be a reference to the musicians, it is horribly dissonant and scratchy which makes the comparatively relaxed Hymn's synth intro that much more appetizing. The synth leaves for a bit but comes back even stronger. They saved the best for last here.

If you are interested in a pair of pretty talented guys doing some very far out jamming I think you'll enjoy Modulator. If what you are looking for is a more conventional musical experience, then I suggest an immediate 180 degree turn. For my personal tastes Modulator is really only a two out of five.

 The Trey Gunn Band - The Joy of Molybdenum by GUNN, TREY album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.90 | 37 ratings

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The Trey Gunn Band - The Joy of Molybdenum
Trey Gunn Eclectic Prog

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Trey Gunn is playing usual music there - instrumental prog-rock with very specific "cold" sound of all instruments. The Band consists of additional guitarist and drumer, near Gunn himself.

Strong bass line, "cold" drums/ rhytms, often african, plenty of electronic soun effects. The dirrence with previous albums is mainly in sound : the space around main instruments are full of noises and electronic effects, sometimes dreamy, kind of ambient soundscapes, sometimes doomy, almost depresive.

There are less space for quitar extravaganza, music is well balanced. But in our time of faceless neo-prog clones, this album sounds as fresh air. I think it will be interesting for Gunn/KC (later yeras) fans, as well as for proggers searching some new roads in their music.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to NotAProghead for the last updates

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