Gunn-Truscinski Duo: Bay Head
Three Lobed Recordings – Out Now
Steve Gunn and John Truscinski are longtime collaborators and their latest release Bay Head evidences a well-developed relationship between the two. This meditative collection of guitar-drum instrumentals sound distinctly crafted, with subtle progressions that are always constrained before the point of free form or climax, and yet always hinting at something more.
Gunn – a well-seasoned folk, rock and experimental guitarist and songwriter – uses these collaborations to focus on fine-tuned riffs that rarely go beyond a few chords, but are forensically unpicked and evolved, whether more plaintively on acoustic, or when rocking out with a distorted electric. Truscinski’s drumming at points shuffles along playfully, and at others is sparse and mournful.
The tracks can probably be categorized as ebbing and flowing out of three distinct moods. There are drawn-out ambience and foreboding drones on tracks like Road Bells and EIP – a relatively new addition to their repertory. There’s the use of meditative acoustic fingerpicking on Quiet Storm (Taksim III), Shell and Coral. Then there are the tracks in which Gunn plays lead electric. The third category is the most prominent, including the laid-back bluesy soloing on Seagull for Chuck Berry, the march-like Sugar, the dreamy Some Lunar Day, and the explorative Flood and Fire and Gunter. The latter two at points sound almost a little kraut-y with roadworthy shuffling drums.
This greater variety does add a more cinematic feel to this LP compared to the rest of their discovery. Opener Road Bells, for instance, has gloomy drones and muffled church bells that bring to mind scenes from Satantango. On tracks like Quiet Storm, Shell and EIP gongs, drones and sparse acoustic guitars combine for an atmosphere not too dissimilar to some of Ben Chasny’s releases as Six Organs of Admittance.
But the bluesy rock-outs, in which Gunn’s melodic electric gradually become subsumed in greater reverb and distortion, are the most pronounced and standout tracks on the record. Seagull for Chuck Berry contains the most melodic riff and is the track you’ll probably end up listening to the most. Gunter is the longest and most deeply developed of the tracks, while you can easily find yourself sucked into the reverbed echoes on Some Lunar Day.
The album as a whole feels like a dreamy escape, a series of sounds and atmospheres to get lost in, which makes the closer Coral – a proper campfire track evocative of guitarists like James Blackshaw – all the more pleasing. It’s a return into consciousness, calm, meditative but also grounded.