Artist/ Band: Trey Gunn
Title: Modulator
Label: Thorny Music
Year of Release: 2010
Offical Artist/ Band Link

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The Review:

Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?

“Modulator is Trey Gunn with uber-drummer Marco Minnemann; but with a gigantic twist.” “This entire recording was composed and produced over the top of a 51 minute, live drum solo by Marco”.

“For this project, alternatively known as "Normalizer Two", Marco has enlisted several different musicians to create a full CD, each, from the same drum solo.” “No editing of the drum performance was done.” “All the music had to fit with what Marco played and, ideally, make it seems like only this drum performance could go with this music”.

"This was the hardest recording I have ever taken on," says Gunn.” "The challenges of this process prove the old adage that 'with great restrictions come great creative leaps' "(Source, 2010).


1. Contact – The 51 minute drum solo pounds and leaps to a start. Keys and bell sounds fill the room. Interesting. Then a trumpet. Bass and all manner of percussion and cool spacey synth sound effects envelope the room. Ripping lead echoes across the room as vocals and other sounds replace the synths as lead instruments.

2. Flood – The pace slows down and sounds drift in and out. Cool King Crimson guitar picking and instrumentation takes center stage as the drums keep thumping pace in the background. Synths and sound effects abound, with vocal sounds and all sorts of sampled effects filling the air. Unless you’re looking you may miss when one track drifts into the next. Dreamy and brilliant background music for almost anything you might want to do. But interesting if you concentrate on each note and sound. Deep lows and medium pitched sounds to offset. The bass effects are very cool.

3. Spray 1 – This one drifts in and then bursts of lead and bass guitar surrounded by synths and percussion effects as the pace picks up drastically. The wild bass sounds are otherworldly.

4. Fall Time +/- The cool key and synth effects makes this one interesting. The ripping lead that punches through every now and again sounds cool.

5. Fall Time - /+ More deep bass and sound effects. The synth, when it crawls into the mix really shines bright. The drum effects on this 51 minute solo are incredible. Very complicated but spacey guitar and key instrumentation. This is one of the longer songs at 4:09 minutes, and also one of the best.

6. Lumen – More synths as the pace slows again. Deep bass lines and almost a bell effect from the keys. Then some cool strings are added, giving the illusion of spiders crawling or that brief glimpse of light in darkness all over the production. Nice effect.

7. Switch – More plucked strings and clanging bell effects, as the pace quickens again. Over very fast.

8. Daughter – Quieter, softer drums with the synths re – emerging with deep bass sounds and those Crimson strings.

9. Pole – The pace quickens again and the bass is much more pronounced. Deep bass sounds as the drumming gets more irregular and harder to match.

10. Scatter – Cool bell – like synths and bass all over the place. The drumming building strength as the synths ooze out their sounds.

11. Up Spin – More interesting synths sounds as the drumming continues unabated. Ever increasing pace and suspense as the synths build drama before dropping off.

12. Down Spin – Back to building the sound again with quickening bass, and synths. Cymbals and drums keeping pace. Echo effects surround.

13. Spectra – Uillian pipes enter the sound chamber along with all manner of percussion and synth effects. Just incredible to hear all of this sound together. All kinds of sound effects thrown in like breaking glass, synthesized moaning, and so many sounds it would take likes to describe them. At 6:08 minutes another of the longer songs on the album. A little like being in the middle of Jabba the Hutt’s lair at show time.

14. Superstish-a-tron – Try to remember that this is one long drum solo with all other instrumentation added later. That is what makes this so unique and mind bending. The production and mixing are so good; it’s as if the musicians were all in the same room together producing this sound. Slow strummed beach sounding guitar, percussion, horns, banging steal, and heavy bass.

15. Californ-a-tron – Calliope sounding synths and piercing bass effects.

16. Spray 2 – Ripping guitar mixed with synths, bass and the drums. Fadding out to synths sounds before…

17. Mono – Punkte – Heavy bass and lead along with keys. The spacey keys add a new dimension to this track.

18. Coupling – Driving bass with the drum line holding and special keys added for effect.

19. Incantation – Almost harp sounding chords and those mysterious guitar/sitar – like sounds. Very Oriental and full of the influence of Asia or even the Middle East. The cool bass lines in the background keep pounding along with the drums adding to the mystery.

20. Slingcharm – Power chords and bass with keys and synths supporting as the rhythm builds. More and more power is added as the guitar seems to be fed through a box.

21. Twisted Pair – Complete quiet and still with few things moving. Until a blistering lead fires across the room and more sound effects from the synth grind into the sound chamber. Synths and guitar twisting and turning ripping at the air. Power bass filling in every gap in the sound.

22. Hymn – Soft synths and patted drums make up this final song. The synth builds a good strong melody with the bass and drums supporting well. String – like orchestration fills the room as more and more instruments are added with each stanza.

Rating: 8/10 – Great sounds and sounds effects. You have to give them special merit for accomplishing this feat. Meant to be listened to as one long song, but I tried to break it into bits and examine each track independently. Listened to as one whole song or album it is incredibly diverse and different sounding. You could compare it to some of King Crimson’s work with Trey Gunn or even part Zappa in places. But this is definitely original. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but perfect for studying, reading, or just letting your mind wander amongst the strings and chords.

Reviewed by Prof on July 2nd, 2010


01. Contact
02. Flood
03. Spray 1
04. Fall Time +/-
05. Fall Time -/+
06. Lumen
07. Switch
08. Daughter
09. Pole
10. Scatter
11. Up Spin
12. Down Spin
13. Spectra
14. Superstish-a-tron
15. Californi-a-tron
16. Spray 2
17. Mono - Punkte
18. Coupling
19. Incarnation
20. Slingcharm
21. Twisted Pair

Reviewed Discography

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