Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home

Trey Gunn

I’ll Tell What I Saw (1993 – 2010)

Review by Gary Hill

This compilation disc shows a lot of versatility. It features recordings released by various projects that featured Trey Gunn. Most of it is instrumental, but there are some vocals. The music varies quite a bit from piece to piece and it never fails to work. Since I’ve already reviewed a number of the original albums from which this music came, I’ve adapted those track reviews for use here for the sake of consistency. This would be a great introduction to the versatile talent that is Trey Gunn.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 1 at

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Hymn – Trey Gunn

This is very gentle and pretty and has a bit of an Asian leaning to it. It works out into more rock like territory further down the road.

The Joy of Molybdenum – The Trey Gunn Band

Pinging guitar sounds start the cut, and the percussion brings in a world music texture. Crunchy guitar tones impart a strong groove to the piece for a time. It then drops to just percussion before the groove returns, this time with a strong retro texture. As the cut progresses, some of the coolest musical textures you will ever hear emerge. The composition drops back away to percussive dominance again before returning to the previous mode, this time taking on Dimeolaish over-layers.

The Fifth Spin of the Sun – Trey Gunn

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.

Val el Diablo - Alonso Arreola
World music singing leads this off. Then it fires out into a jam that has a lot of classic Trey Gunn and King Crimson built in, but with heavy helpings of jazz and world music filing out the arrangement. It’s got a killer rubbery rhythmic structure and is both joyous and complex. It drops back mid-track to some ambient percussion dominated music with crowd sounds in another language over the top. The music gradually rises up as the crowd fades away. This is quite melodic as it builds upward, then we are treated to a jam that’s the most decidedly Crimson-like of the whole track. Those crowd noises can be heard here and there over the top.
Morning Dream - Sergey Klevensky
A mellower piece, this also has a lot of jazz on it. Gunn’s work seems to play over the top lending a sort of dark, heavy form of cloud cover. This is a tasty piece that’s different and very cool. Around the mid-track the cut takes on some new energy, but the jazz definitely remains at the forefront. This plays through for a while before it all drops back down again. Another frantic jazz jam later takes it in new directions. It drops to mellow and melodic for the closing section.
Real Life – Trey Gunn
This is very ambient, but there is a lot of dark dimension to it. It has a noisy nature, but the percussion and rubbery bass end of the stick really dominate. This feels a lot like something from the Trey Gunn edition of King Crimson.
Maslenitsa – The Farlanders
Mix a cool Crimsonian bottom end with world music and you’ll have a good idea where this is going. It’s got some great soloing by Gunn and lots of interesting musical features included as standard equipment on this ride. There is an awesome Crimsonian jam later in the piece. When the vocals return during this Crimson-like jam it’s one of the coolest sections of the entire two-CD set. In fact, I’d peg this is as one of the highlights of the album.
Gallina – Trey Gunn
A mellower, more acoustic driven piece, the percussion arrangement on this is quite energized and involved. This is quite a short number.
Dziban - The Trey Gunn Band
This live track has a killer rubbery bottom end and some very King Crimson like musical elements. It works through a number of intriguing changes and there’s really a groove to a lot of it.  It does go off in some directions that are less King Crimson-like and it times it even feels a bit like Yes to me. There’s some killer guitar work on this, but that’s to be expected.
Misery, Misery, Die, Die, Die... – TU
Imagine a power trio like Cream or the Jimi Hendrix experience blended with modern King Crimson. You’ll have a really good idea of what this smoking hot instrumental is all about. It has a number of changes and alterations, but seldom lets up on the power and fury. The percussion gets plenty of opportunities to show off and they do take out into some weirdness here and there.
Pole – Trey Gunn
This has a more jazz meets classical music element to it. It is powerful.
Thick and Thorny – Quodia
This pounds in with a fury and more full rock sound that is in keeping with modern King Crimson. It’s a killer, too. It drops back for a short time to percussive ambience, but then the guitar screams out from that point and turns it around a number of successive corners in a noisy celebration.
Down Spin – Trey Gunn
The bass end of the stick really drives this one. It’s rather rubbery. It’s also very cool. 
Absinthe & A Cracker – TU
This has an old time music turned out through some kind of weird processing element blended with a killer bass-sound dominated romp. This is quite different and quite cool. It works out into some harder rocking territory later that’s a bit Crimson-like with some scorching guitar work. It actually gets pretty heavy at times.
The Shimmering - Trey Gunn
A circular stick kind of sound makes up this cool piece. It’s quite melodic and a bit mellower than some of the other music on the set. It’s very much in keeping with a King Crimson kind of sound.
Fandango - TU
The arrangement here is more sparse, feeling a bit like a bouncing kind of percussive work out. Atmosphere and some female vocals come over the top in waves. It turns towards noise at the end.
Well - Inna Zhelannaya
Wandering through more ambient territory, there is more of a world music element here, yet this also reminds one a bit of something from Jon Anderson or Jonathan Elias. The vocal line is compelling. The number closes with extreme ambience accompanying a child speaking in a language other than English. 
Disc 2
Jacaranda – KTU
Take a standard, rubbery sort of King Crimson rhythmic structure and add world music cafe sounds to it and you've got a very good idea of what this track is like. There are even a few Yesish moments here, though.  This has some incredible music. 
The Magnificent Jinn – Trey Gunn

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.

Contact – Trey Gunn
There’s a delicate nature to this piece, yet it’s also quite hard edged at points. The timing seems oddly fluid here and there. It has a good dynamic range, dropping down to ambient textures and also conveying more complete arrangements. There is some cool soloing in a more fiery jam later.
Drunk - Inna Zhelannaya

 There is a pounding sort of sound to this, but more like a symphonic texture than a metallic one. This has a lot more energy and power than some of the other stuff, but definitely in a world music meets progressive rock style. After a short respite the cut powers out into a killer jazzy jam that’s very much like early or even Red era King Crimson.

Killing for London – Trey Gunn
There’s a killer groove with Crimson-like guitar over the top built into this smoking hot tune. There are vocals, mostly spoken, but with an extremely tasty delivery. This is a very rhythmic piece, but there is still plenty of melody built into it.
Kuma – Trey Gunn
This really sounds a lot like something from King Crimson. It has a driving power and some killer Crimsonian rhythms and melodies.
Single Cell Shark - Matte Henderson
The driving acoustic guitar section on this feels like something from Red era King Crimson. There are bits of noisy power interspersed along the road here, and this is another killer instrumental. It powers out at times to some really hard rocking material.
Cheeky - Matt Chamberlain
This instrumental is a real rocker that’s a bit strange at times. There’s a lot of chirping kind of noises, like old science fiction computer sounds. It’s a real hard-edged powerhouse.
Make My Grave in the Shape of a Heart – TU
This is quite weird. Noises and other sounds are thrown in along with some hard rocking jamming and a pounding and aggressive percussion track.
Spectra - Trey Gunn
There’s an almost Celtic feeling as this enters, but it continues to feel like a bunch of musicians warming up. It remains like that, and quite noisy, throughout.
Capturing the Beam – Trey Gunn

Gunn turns it a bit 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.

Hard Winds – Trey Gunn
Another instrumental, this has that Warr guitar stick kind of sound that was such a big part of the modern King Crimson. It’s quite melodic, but there is some noisy soloing over the top, too.
Arrakis - The Trey Gunn Band

 A live recording, weird sound effects and other musical elements skirt across the surface in a fusion-like jam. The bass at times is incredibly powerful and involved on this, but a lot of this wanders towards RIO. It works through a number of changes and alterations and is quite definitely pure fusion.

Flood – Trey Gunn
This is a rather organic piece. There is an almost mysterious and dark beauty to it. There’s a killer rubbery section that takes it out.               
Untamed Chicken - TU
This starts in very ambient ways and grows quite gradually. It’s not until around the two and a half minute mark that it changes drastically. That change comes in the form of a furious jam that has a lot of King Crimson type sound built into it. A saxophone wails over the top as the rest of the instruments drive it in an aggressive and pounding progression. They create one or two variations before it ends abruptly.
Down in Shadows (Part 1) - N.Y.X.
The sounds that lead this off call to mind Hawkwind’s Hall of the Mountain Grill album a bit, but they quickly take it out into an aggressive powerhouse Crimsonian jam that’s very cool. It drops down to a weird little Zappa-like section for some Tool-like vocals. Xylophone amongst odd atmosphere continues the Zappa sounds after the vocals end. Then a dramatic building process with more vocals gives an almost Marilyn Manson kind of power. It modulates out from there in a more melodic progressive rock jam that’s quite cool. Vocals come in beyond that in a rather science fiction-like arrangement.
Californ-a-tron – Trey Gunn
A cut that’s less than a minute in length, this is rather playful. It’s also quite electronic. 
Vals - Sergey Klevensky
A weird voice and what sounds like a rocking chair opens this and the cut builds from there in a lullaby type fashion. It is gentle and pretty with an world kind of sound to it. This has a new age kind of quality to it. That rocking chair eventually ends it.
9:47 P.M. - Saro Cosentina

This is incredibly sedate as it starts and it builds very gradually. It’s about a minute and a half in before it really rises to the point of being anything but texture. Even then, waves of sound ride across the backdrop in a gentle fashion. It continues like that for a while, then drops back down to the types of ambience that started it off to end.

Return to the
Trey Gunn Artist Page
Artists Directory

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./