Album Review: Tu-Ner – T-1 Contact Information

If you’re seeking compelling and challenging music, in and around the orbit of King Crimson is a very reliable place to begin your search. The members, former members, friends and associates of that legendary group have been responsible for some superb music. And a new group called Tu-Ner is the latest example of that consistent quality.

Tu-Ner is an instrumental trio featuring drummer Pat Mastelotto and stock/touch guitarists Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn. Reuter, you may recall, has been very much in the Crim orbit but never part of the group itself. The closest he came was as part of the Two of a Perfect Trio package tour when he played with Mastelotto and Crim mainstay Tony Levin.

Gunn, of course, was part of the mighty double trio formation of King Crimson circa 1994-2003. Both he and Reuter have created quite a bit of fascinating music on their own and with others since then.

And Pat Mastelotto, besides being one of the nicest and most engaging figures in music, is also a drummer extraordinaire; his presence on a project assures its quality.

T-1 Contact Information is something of an inscrutable title for an album. And with six track clocking in at a total just shy of two hours, the album is intimidating, to say the least. It doesn’t sound all that much like King Crimson, but there’s an uber-heavy, fiercely prog character to the music. The thunderous, rubbery bass frequencies collide with the crunchy, jagged guitar squalls, and Mastelotto’s astoundingly precise and expressive percussion – few are as skilled as he at making the most of the silences between the sounds – brings it all together.

Reuter provides soundscapes (a la Fripp) as well, and both Pat and Trey make fairly extensive use of Vocoder. Don’t look for much in the way of conventional vocals on T-1 Contact Information; they’re not that kind of Vocoder textures.

While “On the Other Side” has a spooky, soundtrack feel, most of the compositions are abstract; they may or may not be the product of improvisational excursions. But if there’s no discernible pop quality to this music, then there is a kind of accessibility to the music, at least for those already inclined to the industrial/metal character that informed late-period Crim and their fellow travelers. If that’s your cup of tea – as is it often mine – then two hours spent with T-1 Contact Information will be well spent, and it’ll fly by.