The members of King Crimson, over the past few years, have participated in a variety of offshoot projects designed to let each splinter group experiment with sonic ideas that will ultimately expand the scope and sound of Crimson itself.
At least, that's the theory.
Trey Gunn, a relatively recent addition to the Crimson fold, was recently in town with The Trey Gunn Band, a guitar and drum trio supporting The Joy of Molyboenum, their new disc on King Crimson's Discipline Global Mobile label. Gunn proves a well-taught pupil of Crimson guitar maestro Robert Fripp; parts of this disc sound more like King Crimson than the past couple of Crimson records have.
Part of that is, no doubt, because Gunn eschews any distracting vocals and concentrates on creating long, complex guitar and rhythm exercises with lots of touch guitar, "smokey" guitar, and even mellotron action. For fans of King Crimson, and of mind-bending instrumental — but not tediously flashy — guitar work, this is an album to seek out. Gunn is an expressive, innovative player who spins an intricate web of angular string work, all the while tapping in a melodic texture that weaves it all together into a canny soundscape.
Likewise, the California Guitar Trio, a group of former Fripp students, proves that instrumental guitar doesn't have to be boring or based around heavy metal riffs. Backed by sometimes Crimson bassist Tony Levin, the California Guitar Trio has unveiled its fifth album, Rocks The West, a live album recorded at shows in California and Boulder, Colo., that is also seeing release through the Discipline Global Mobile label.
Working with a more acoustic sound than Crimson is wont to, the Trio finesses its way through Beethoven's "Symphony No. 9," Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" Duke Ellington's "Caravan," "Moussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" and songs by Levin and the Trio. There's even an expansive saxophone interlude midway through the disc. It listens more like a classical guitar album than rock, but it still bears the signature imprint of Fripp's exploratory, six-string sense.
The California Guitar Trio will be playing at Martyr's, 3855 N. Lincoln, in Chicago Oct. 1 at 8 p.m.
Strictly Hype Recordings Mix CDs
Mount Prospect's Strictly Hype Recordings (SHR) has just released a handful of CDs by DJs and dance artists who have helped define the Chicago and international underground rave and trance dance scenes. Trance  Control's Beyond 2001 on SHR's Sunrise label is the best of the bunch, and the only one to feature all-original music (the others are all "mix" discs put together by DJs featuring other artists). Trance  Dance started as a basement project by two guys playing with "crap" computers and a midi keyboard in 1997.
A year later, they discovered MP3.com and started releasing their instrumental-ambient dance songs for download to the world there. Soon they were among the top downloaded music groups on the Web site, and they began taking their music a bit more seriously, releasing a CD through MP3.com, and beginning other projects. Now, the duo has a label behind it and should start conquering the record stores, along with the Internet. Beyond 2001 is a strong disc of intertwining dance beats and synth lines that is good for both club play and home "trance-out" listening.
SHR also has released discs by DJs Jason Dunne, Heather and Colette. Dunne's Of Epic Proportion on the Sunrise imprint sounds like a late-night city club, mixing (without breaks) tracks from O.S.S., BT, Sasha, Art of Trance and more. Colette, who is both a DJ and performer, has a disc of beat-numbing mixes on the label as well.
More melodic and innovative is Heather's release on SHR's AfterHours label imprint. Heather's Tangerine draws from dance tracks and beats with more varied tempos. Her exotic vocal over-dubs and beat mixing utilize tracks from Freaks, Nick Holder, Toka Project, Rhythm Plate, DJ D, The Rurals and more. If you're planning a rave in your basement, or just want to numb out to some club style mixes, Tangerine is for you.