Rediscoveries of Lost Gems: Desert Heat
Desert Heat- Cat Mask at Huggie Temple
[MIE Records, 2013]
With a new Gunn- Truscinski Duo album on the horizon, I figured it would be fitting to explore one of Gunn-Truscinski's other projects called Desert Heat that was released in 2013. Admittedly, this post would have made more sense earlier in the summer when the blistering heat in Portland was almost akin to a desert heat.
While most of Gunn's output of late has been of the laid-back variety, this record really kicks up the dust with two side-long epic jams filled with vitriolic guitar solos cranked to eleven and tempo changes that turn on a dime. Also along for the ride on this one is the equally talented guitar virtuoso Cian Nugent, who combines with Gunn for a dynamic one-two punch that never quits. The first track "Cat Mask at Huggie Temple" starts out with a transcendent guitar melody that slowly but surely kicks into a frenzy with Truscinski's drums serving as a sturdy backbeat to the mesmerizing interplay between the two guitarists. After the guitars blend seamlessly for the first five minutes of the song, the song slows down and the focus is on one guitarist for the next couple minutes. I couldn't tell you who's playing what, but I believe it's Gunn taking center stage for most of the song. Around the nine minute mark, everything drops out except for the slight brush of the cymbals and a two note guitar line tuned to sound like a bass. Then, Truscinski's drumming sets the tone for a slight return to the initial guitar line that eventually fades out into the distance during the last minute of the song.
The second track of this album, "Chimay Blues," has a much mellower beginning with only the slightest notes presented from the guitar and drums. The sound of the two guitars playing simultaneously at the two minute mark is transfixing, taking you to another place on the astral plane. The first turning point of the song occurs at the five minute mark when the guitar playing starts getting more intense, with the guitar strings being fervently plucked while the sound of the kick drum finally makes its presence known. The next notable change in the song occurs around the ten minute mark, where the dynamics of the song reach the highest peak. This song truly sounds like it's channeling the ghosts of Ravi Shankar and John Fahey at the same time.
Clearly, these guys were onto something with this collaboration, and I hope that we haven't seen the last of them. In the meantime, be on the lookout for the Gunn-Truscinski record Bay Head set to be released on 11/3.
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