Trey Gunn’s first claim to fame was during the “Double Trio” years of King Crimson. His solo recordings speak some of the same language as Crimson, but much more. I’ll Tell What I Saw is a compilation of many of Gunn’s solo works, as well as contributions to other performer’s recordings. Over a duration of two discs you get a plethora of styles and sounds, both serious and fun.
Most all of the songs here are focused on Gunn’s instrument of choice, the Warr Touch guitar. This instrument is not unlike the Chapman stick used by fellow Crimsonite, Tony Levin. Gunn plays the Stick here as well. There is a lot of ethnic, world music over the two discs. The songs are experimental and beat conscious, not unlike Gabriel’s solo works or King Crimson’s latter day output. Some cuts reminded me of Robert Fripp when he is working alone in the studio.
Some tracks on disc one that are especially moving are “The Joy of Molybdenum,” “Morning Dream,” and especially “Gallina” and “Dziban.” These last two have you wondering was the Crimson influence there before, or was he influenced by playing with Fripp and the boys?
Disc two includes the fun “Jacaranda,” the overtly Crimson-like “Kuma,” and “Vals” with beautiful Celtic flute. I like the dynamics on “Untamed Chicken,” how it starts off quiet and then blows up around two and a half minutes in. “Down In Shadows” includes Gunn’s contributions to one of my favorite records of 2008, N.Y.X.’s Down in the Shadows.
This retrospective collection of Trey Gunn recordings from 1993 to 2010 is alternately ambient, moody, upbeat, rhythmic, eclectic, fun, serious, instrumental and vocal. I’m sure I could think of more adjectives, but you get the idea. There are 36 tunes on this collection! I would recommend this for fans of King Crimson, World Beat, and those who are always on the lookout for the different and unique.
Reviewed by Terry Jackson on February 28th, 2011