Crimson / Japan Family
Trey Gunn not only graduated from Chapman stick player to Warr Guitarist on his 1996 CD The Third Star, but being a member of King Crimson for two years also prepared him to drastically improve over his preceding CD, 1993's One Thousand Years. Having mastered the guitar-bass-stick hybrid instrument in the context of the veteran British band, Gunn plays every melody and bassline on The Third Star. King Crimson leader Robert Fripp's wife, Toyah, leads a cast of three guest vocalists, but the mostly-instrumental disc primarily involves Gunn and drummer/percussionists Bob Muller and Pat Mastelotto (also a 1994 King Crimson addition). Gunn's deep, growling bassline and Far Eastern melodies set the tone on the opening "Dziban", leading into the 7/4-timed "Symbiotic". Gunn performed with the Fripps in the early 1990s with the group Sunday All Over the World, and this track recalls some of that band's post-New Wave angst through Toyah's impassioned, high-pitched vocals. Muller's versatility between a standard drum kit and Indian tablas and bandirs ("Arrakis," "Sirrah") makes The Third Star even harder to categorize. Vocalist Alice provides the title track with a backward-sounding chant, as Gunn shows the influence of Robert Fripp through soundscape washes and dreamy chords. Mastelotto's two tracks are the most Crimson-esque - especially the looping "Acquiring Canopus" - but Muller proves to be to Gunn's band what the now-electronic drummer is to King Crimson. "Kuma" and "Indiera" are largely acidic duets between Gunn's melodies and bottom and Muller's drum kit and hand drums. The latter also features Serpentine's guttoral screams, ending The Third Star on a deliciously nightmarish note. For his next CD, 2000's The Joy of Molybdenum, Gunn added guitarist Tony Geballe; by 2001 he'd added another Warr Guitarist in Joe Mendelson. Between the three futuristic string players and Muller's cross-reference of Eastern and Western drumming, the Trey Gunn Band is poised to erase any of the lines still separating musical genres - and The Third Star foretold it all to anyone who would listen.
All Music Guide