Reminiscent of Brian Eno’s Music For Films in title, Trey Gunn, who is best known as the current bassist (or, to be more specific, “touch” guitarist) of King Crimson, has assembled Music For Pictures, which was most likely actually used or composed for multimedia work over a period of eight years, altered for this collection. Given such a broad stretch of time, the music has few recurring threads, aside from Gunn’s composition style and favored tones.
But as Gunn himself writes in the liner notes, they were “severely manipulated” for these versions, and there is a feeling of unity here. Among the thirty tracks that span funk, choral work, electronic, jazz and rock in over an hour, there’s a predetermined sensibility throughout.
I’m not quite sure what “severely manipulated” means, but it almost is as if he replayed these versions, though it’s unlikely. They don’t sound particularly forced, but given the wide breadth of styles and the surprising cohesiveness, it’s likely that Trey Gunn’s abilities as a producer and engineer, more than a intuitive and intelligent musician, are on display here.
After all, there’s no heroic fretless guitar work or Warr Guitar craziness, though it’s obvious that he could have done it at any time. Rather, Gunn is interested mostly in creating mood and texture, much like some of the original traditions of ambient music, like Another Green World. But as soon as that comparison occurs, Music For Pictures switches to a straight-up rock cut, but perhaps for 60 seconds.
These 30 snippets together, while they may not be more than their whole, are nevertheless more enlightening than they would be apart, perhaps introducing listeners to another side of Gunn’s prodigious talent.