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TRACK LIST: 1. The Encounter 5:03 2. The Push 3:36 3. Out of the Mist 8:25 4. Sequence of Events 3:25 5. DIP 6:56 6. The Departure 4:40 7. Gray Matter 6:16 8. Orb 7:47 9. 11th Heaven Blues 4:00 10. Still Unsettled 2:10 SOLO PILOT: Dean Watson – all instruments
Prolusion. Canadian composer and multi-instrumentalist Dean WATSON has been an active musician since the late 70's, with stints in bands like Airkraft and the June Garba Band and a brief tenure with Latin artist Dennis De Sousa. Over the years he's harbored the desire to venture out as a solo artist, and reflection upon a painting by Ron Eady proved to add the creative spark needed for him to set matters in motion. The end result of this process materialized as the CD "Unsettled" in the fall of 2010.
Analysis. The possibilities of modern technology are a fascinating topic, for which many can be grateful. It has its upsides and downsides, the latter of which recording artists of merit most likely can talk about at length, but for Dean Watson, I presume, the positives outweigh the negatives. He has been able to produce an album by himself and to release a CD without ruining himself financially; twenty years ago this production would probably have been a demo cassette and probably much more cost-intensive to make, too. "Unsettled" is an apt name for this creation, as there is an overall atmosphere of restlessness throughput this album, where the fact that all compositions are instrumentals is the common denominator. In terms of stylistic expressions, Watson has at least one foot inside the "everything but the kitchen sink" type approach, where individual tracks by and large wander freely between several different genres. Melodic guitar soloing with some subtle shredding in a Joe Satriani-inspired vein stands side by side with passages of a more distinct symphonic nature; majestic guitar riff and symphonic backdrop combinations closing in on progressive metal in overall style fits in just as nicely as jazz-tinged piano-dominated motifs. Pastoral themes featuring a gentle guitar motif, augmented by digital strings, have a home on this production, so does vintage organ motifs backed by synths and vice versa. Versatility and diversity aside, the overall feel of this CD is that it probably belongs inside the fusion realm, as jazz-oriented piano motifs and various other instrumental details adhering to this approach are recurring aspects throughout this production. It's not anywhere near a traditional venture of this type though, as the number of traits and details with a more distinct art rock foundation arguably are just as numerous, and personally I miss some features in the bass and drums department emphasizing the fusion aspect of the compositions, which probably marks me down as something of a conservative and traditionalist character I suppose. But apart from these minor reservations, Watson has created an enjoyable and unpredictable album on this solo excursion, containing a great number of themes of an enticing and enthralling nature for a liberal-minded audience.
Conclusion. As far as “do-it-yourself” instrumental efforts go, Dean Watson has produced a generally good quality recording, where the unpredictable nature of the material and an adventurous approach are the main assets: somewhat aimless on occasion and not without shortcomings, but with plentiful themes and passages to cater to the tastes of instrumental progressive rock fans with a broad musical taste.
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