"Music for Pictures" (7d Media; 2008)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Trey Gunn made his name playing touch guitar with King Crimson. Apparently, Gunn has some solo projects and group projects I wasn’t aware of until just now. Additionally, he’s got quite a career going for himself involving scoring films and other video mediums. I am familiar with Gunn’s work with King Crimson (which left me impressed) and Quodia (which left me very puzzled).

“Music for Pictures,” properly classified as a Trey Gunn solo work, features 29 tracks of which the first 28 are short snippets – quite easy to imagine if you think about music soundtracks that are made for scenes in films. Despite the brevity of the tracks the creativity exudes confidence and appropriateness (even lacking knowledge of the images that were supposed to go along with the music). Soundtracks in the form of musical vignettes must quickly establish a theme, create movement, and find closure in relatively short order – this mustn’t be easy yet Gunn pulls it off in style.

The substance/root of what I hear with the majority of these tracks is what U2 might have sounded like if they ditched Bono and kept making instrumental music like “Bass Trap” or “Endless Deep” in exploratory ways with an emphasis on percussion and mood. I hear, among other things, the song of whales (“Isle of the Blest”), car chases (“Hammerhead”), mid-summer Arabian dreams (“The Magnificent Jinn”), and Wagnerian classical stomps (“Nausicaa”). But I find it’s best to enjoy Gunn’s musical vignettes by simply letting the music wash over the ears and cranial matter. No matter the length of the songs the music is at all times intriguing and seductive.

The last piece, “The Ghosts Listen,” is a comparatively whopping 21 minutes of minimalism that in all likelihood was probably originally scored for an entire short film. This piece sounds most like a sonic companion to Kevin Moore’s Chroma Key’s album “Graveyard Mountain Home.”

Gunn makes it known that the music heard on “Music for Pictures” is culled from nine years' worth of musical scores for film that were ‘severely manipulated’ for this disc. Regardless, Gunn’s work evident in the form of “Music for Pictures” is remarkable.

“Music for Pictures” was produced by Trey Gunn.

Trey Gunn secures contributions from drummers Matt Chamberlain, Greg Gilmore, Pat Mastelotto, and Phil Petrocelli and vocalist Beth Quist.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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