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The Watch - Ghost CD (album) cover

GHOST

The Watch

 

Neo-Prog

3.51 | 128 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As I got hold of Citizen Cain and the Watch, starting to analyze them a bit closer to see beyond the obvious Genesis/Gabriel connotations, it sort of dawned on me that the glorious period of Genesis can be broken down into two separate forms of adulation. First, the instrumental prowess, with Banks' shimmering keyboard work, Hackett's expressively romantic guitar stylings, Rutherford's Rickenbacker booming relentlessly and Collins' slick technical drumwork . On the other hand you have the vocal exuberance and the lyrical eloquence of Monsieur Gabriel, who can certainly weave a forceful story and entertain thoroughly but also knew when to let the music tell the tale. With the two above groups, the decision to cram as many lyrics and vocal gymnastics has masked (yeah! right) the very obvious fact that the arrangements are stuffy and less expressive, as if the spotlight was only on the microphone. The argument becomes more focused when comparing this album (and the 2 followers) to the first born project called the Night Watch, that had a definite Genesis influence but with a more jagged edge that seemed to me more daring and adventurous than this material. As I have listened to this numerously trying to like it a lot, I still cannot shake the feeling of sterility even though the overall feel is acceptable. Sounds too calculated, almost like Supper's Ready by numbers, with an overload of linear, accented, histrionic and unending vocals from Simone Rossetti that just feels unconvincing. There should have been a strong yearning to stretch out the arrangements, so as to make the whole thing breathe better and accentuate the playing that is frankly, no where remotely near the mannered extravagance of the true creators. Best example is the opener "DNAlien", a piece that has numerous great ideas but crammed indelicately into a mass of confusion (sic!) with just too much vocal business going on. When Simone moves away from the spotlight (which is not often, alas), everything just sounds more persuasive, as the pointy mellotron darts and the whopping organ slams. The chorus is actually quite recherché but the arrangement remains way too choppy, paying lip service to the inflected singing. The Hacketty solo from Valerio Vado is good but oddly not jaw-dropping. With the initially gentler "The Ghost & the Teenager", our watchmen supply a little more subtle sonic expanse, lo and behold, and the ear seems to respond much more favorably. Here, the piano serves the melody well, with vocals that now have a "raison d'être", collaborating nicely to create a unique song, with mountains of the "famed white keyboard" and huge squalls of shrieking and slippery guitar. A playful middle section even manages to honor the tradition and actually contributes to the enjoyment. This is a good memorable track, with lots of contrasts and swerves. "Heroes" is not a remake of the famed Bowie song but a rather doctrinaire rehash of the rigid "Gabenesis" formula, with Rossetti aiming at the higher registers, sweetly crooning some sallow tale. The yelping can be annoying, saved by the majestic 'tron and the spikey acoustic guitar arpeggios.The lead axe solo, ripping through the tsunami- like keyboard waves is gripping. While "Moving Red" swaggers assuredly, the overt plagiaristic tendencies start gnawing at the fraying nerves, every track seemingly overloaded with the same massive sprinklings of musical Parmigiano, thus exuding this feeling of monolithic sameness. Not that its bland, au contraire, it just comes across too strong! The diminutive "Riding the Elephant" starts off promisingly with a too brief synth-smoked dirge, cool backing vocals and some icy frills, but suddenly the chorus just plods on, actually slowing down, putting brakes to a tune that may have elicited some goose bumps. The finale sadly adds no zip to this potentially arousing menu that simply fails to excite the palate. In the end, there is enough to praise but not to salivate over. The Watch needs some rewinding or go back to the Night ! 3 ring tones.
tszirmay | 3/5 |

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