Known Johnson

June 6, 2008

New Trey Gunn album, Music for Pictures, available

Filed under: Music — Tom @ 1:59 pm

Finally – I’ve been waiting for an email for a few weeks now and nothing ever showed up. Stopped by Gunn’s site and what do I find? A link to his store where I can buy his new album from CD Baby. Huh? Why all the emails a few weeks ago with teaser links to mp3s if you’re not going to follow through with an announcement about the album being available?

I see mention of “vocalist Beth Quist.” I really hope vocals are not going to feature prominently throughout the 29 tracks. I won’t mind them if they’re atmospheric-y like on “The Silver Bough,” but if they’re anything like what showed up on the three vocal tracks of The Third Star, I’ll be disappointed – “Symbiotic” and “Indiera” are consistently skipped to this day, 12 years later. However, sound clips on CD Baby seem safe so far . . . I, like most listeners, are in this for Gunn’s remarkable sense of atmosphere and groove, not for the usually ill-fitting vocals. Trey Gunn makes mesmerizing road music that just happens to be aggressive and complex. I don’t want or need vocals and lyrics cluttering that up.

Is it just the designer that I am being annoyed that whoever did the art for this couldn’t center the the text horizontally so it fit in the circle? I mean, aside from just being kind of crappy looking in general, this looks decidedly cheap. I can’t stop myself from looking at it, and everything that is off the horizontal axis, and thinking, “Why, why, why?” It’s so easy to do – anyone can do this with a little knowledge of the programs. I actually have to stop looking at that image. I am that annoyed. There is no place for bad art. He’s had such nice art in the past. Why this? I get the concept – it’s a test screen for a TV, but this isn’t good. No, I’m not going to fixate on it and let it ruin the music. But sometimes it makes me wonder what the artists are really thinking . . .



  1. sorry, but i’m a designer, and i have no idea why you’re annoyed with this cover. it’s totally cool. where is it written that text has to be contained within a shape? the text is totally centered on the square CD format. and, the design and colors of the cover are gorgeous… to my eye, it’s a very sophisticated and unique CD cover.
    as for the music, haven’t heard it yet, but look forward to it.

    Comment by greg scott — June 17, 2008 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

  2. one more observation: look at the cover in a thumbnail view: it’s totally recognizable and looks like nothing else out there. today’s CD covers have to do this these days, as so many people first see the cover in an online thumbnail view at,,, or wherever. it’s a great cover.

    Comment by greg scott — June 17, 2008 @ 6:16 pm | Reply

  3. I stand by my assessment, Greg, as a designer myself. I also don’t like the little notes like “Trey is god,” which further cheapens the design and puts this album further into territory of an instrument-worshipers piece for touch-guitarists rather than simply music, which is something that Gunn has said he does not aim for. His previous albums had a beautiful grace to them that described the music and this one is just blunt blandness. If we’re to take the cover as something that sells the album, then were I new to the music, the cover wouldn’t make me very curious about the music within. But it is a good album – not quite up to The Third Star and One Thousand Years standards, but there is some really nice stuff on here. Well worth the investment if you like his stuff or King Crimson.

    (On a side note, you’ve got some very nice artwork on your site.)

    Comment by Tom — June 17, 2008 @ 9:16 pm | Reply

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