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Trey Gunn — Raw Power: Surfacings, Vol. 1
(First World Music FWD 99.01, 1999, CD)

by Dean Suzuki, Published 2000-10-01

Raw Power: Surfacings, Vol. 1 Cover art

The first in Gunn’s “Surfacing Series,” limited edition releases of old recordings, demos, live material, works-in-progress, re-workings, improvisations, and the like, this is based on several recording projects. The first was an early cassette-only release, also titled Raw Power, which captured his first foray into the studio with a tapping instrument, the Chapman Stick and the Warr guitar. Another source is out-takes from Gunn’s two previous DGM solo releases; according to Gunn not inferior works, rather pieces that simply did not fit in the scope and musical statement of those releases, thus demanding a different venue and perfect for Raw Power. As you might expect, some of the music seems to come right out of the latter-day King Crimson catalog, with the characteristic minimalist ostinatos, interlocking rhythmic patterns, and basic musical style. In other words, great stuff. However, other pieces are quite distinctive, different from the KC oeuvre. “Puttin’ on the White Shirt” has the repetitive, interlocking motifs, but the presence of Bob Mullter’s tablas gives the work an exotic flair, while Dave Douglas’s trumpet lines lend an ECM sheen. Quite different is “Anastasis” with its ambient atmospheres and use of free improvisation. “Hawaii 2 Oh” features trumpet improvisations that are downright jazzy, albeit of the ECM sort, and a funk bass line that invokes David Byrne’s and Brian Eno’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Like a collaboration between Steve Roach and Harold Budd with electric guitars rather than keyboards, “One Thousand Years: Second Travel” is a gorgeous closer to this diverse and very fine CD.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 20, 1999 releases

Related artist(s): Pat Mastelotto, Trey Gunn

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