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Robert Fripp disciple Trey Gunn has taken some time out from his King Crimson day job to produce his new release, the strangely titled The Joy of Molybdenum. The album relies heavily on Gunn's groundbreaking work on 8, 10, and 12 string touch guitars, and also features guitarist Tony Geballe and percussionist Bob Muller. Upon first listen, you will SWEAR that you've found a lost King Crimson disc or are listening to another one of Fripp's "ProjeKcts; however, upon further listening you'll realize that... well... actually you'll still think you're listening to Fripp or Crimson. If anything is to be gathered from The Joy of Molybdenum, it is that while you can take the boy out of King Crimson, you can't take the Crimson out of the boy. And that's both good and bad...
The CD kicks off very impressively with the title track, which features some killer low-end touch playing by Gunn and a funky groove laid down by drummer Muller. As a matter of fact, the first four tracks on the CD continue with the groove assault - "The Glove" features some amazing Hendrix-style jams emanating from Gunn's touch guitar, "Hard Winds Redux" sounds like an updated and more danceable version of 80's Crimson classic "Disclipline," and "Rune Song: The Origin of Water" succeeds with some breezy drumming and Gunn and Gaballe's tandem "math rock" guitar runs. While Gunn is obviously meant to be the main attraction on these cuts, it is actually Muller's drumming that drives the tracks and keeps the rhythm moving along. It's quite obvious that this band can pretty much throw down a funky groove at a moment's notice, and it is the tracks that take advantage of this asset that are the most successful on the album. Which is exactly why I was totally stunned that the band decided to devote the last two-thirds of the album to a non-descript string of repetitive and uninspired ambient compositions...
Where the first few songs on The Joy of Molybdenum were examples of well executed future-rock tunes, the last batch of songs on the album are examples of plodding and uneventful experiments in noise. By taking Muller's effective drumming out of the mix, the songs lose a lot of their power, and instead become a string of bland trance-like cuts one right after the other. The album's closer, "Tehlikeli Madde" picks up the pace a little bit - but by this point the listener will probably have given up on Gunn and Co. or fallen asleep altogether.
In short, The Joy of Molybdenum is a very uneven release. The faster and more rhythmic tracks that start off the CD are excellent showcases for the band's instrumental prowess, but the ambient compositions that round out the CD are musical wastelands that simply suck all the life out of the listening experience. Hopefully Gunn's future efforts will focus less on background ambient music and more on in-your-face funk grooves. Unforunately, with Joy, this Gunn misses his mark.
Track Listing: 1. The Joy of Molybdenum (5:27), 2. The Glove (3:57), 3. Hard Winds Redux (4:08), 4. Rune Song: The Origin of Water (6:13), 5. Untune the Sky (7:17), 6. Sozzle (4:53), 7. Gate of Dreams (5:22), 8. Brief Encounter (5:57), 9. Tehlikeli Madde (3:41)