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Dean Watson - Sum of Parts CD (album) cover


Dean Watson


Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.73 | 18 ratings

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4 stars If I'm very much mistaken Dean Watson's fourth mad scientist music menagerie is the aggregate of a myriad of musical concepts and ideas amassed in his conspiring mind over roughly a two-year period between 2015-2017. Hence the empirical title : Sum Of Parts. For those not familiar with Dean Watson, he is a consequence of the glorious seventies and some of the innovative music that that decade spawned. Sum Of Parts emits a raw in-your-face effusion of that era with visages of Genesis, Keith Emerson, Alan Holdsworth, David Sancious and others. So if you are entwined with that wondrously inspired epoch you will revel in Watson's latest edeavour. This could have come out in 1975 but I am overjoyed that fresh sounding albums like this that are still being conceived by stalwarts such as Mr. Watson. The seventies were rampant with a restless flow of ideas that abruptly ran aground when there was really nowhere else to go creatively. It seemed every plateau had been crossed. Personally I am not a big on these newer takes on progressive rock. All this neo- prog and prog-metal seems to be trying too hard at flogging a concept that belonged to an era. What we have here is a revival of that instrumental flavour and spirit of 70s prog rock and jazz-rock fusion. Don't expect any ground breaking musical revelations or technological advances here ; It's all about the music and Watson's unrelenting predilection for a seventies groove.

Artists who are audacious enough to go it alone take in all the risk factor, and are faced with full culpability if something doesn't turn out quite right. Watson is first and foremost a highly accomplished keyboardist, formidable guitar player and eclectic composer. These exceptional qualities form the foundation of 8 singular instrumental compositions that comprise Sum Of Parts that can be free-and- easy to precise and angular. However I can see the album coming under fire for comparatively weaker rhythm parts, but by no stretch sounding as generic as some solo artists who have a "go nuts Jimi" rhythm section playing alongside them. This is the only nit picky criticism I can offer and I actually enjoyed this album as much or more as I did Dean's first album "Unsettled" which I discovered back in 2010 perhaps because I knew what to expect: Sheer creative abandon and execution of colourful ideas. Those familiar with Dean's previous instrumental albums will notice a brighter tone on this one almost devoid some of his darker themes. The cover art even suggests this departure.

Each phenomenal track opens with a unique theme and then branches off, forming it's own morphology with contrast and variation. Despite the various influences heard on each piece there is unification that is a hallmark of Watson's compositional prowess. Although the album is solid throughout there are several tracks that I keep returning to. Song for A Day typifies Watson's blending of styles, Progrock meets Jazz-rock. Although a formally trained pianist he seems deliberate in avoiding classical motifs which makes his music all the more expeditious. D Day, with it's ominous intro showcases some great guitar work that for some reason reminds me a bit of some of Alex Lifeson's playing over the years.There might also be a nod to to Jan Akkerman's Hocus Pocus riff in there too! Definitely my fave on the the whole album. Watson's sharp edged style is outwardly his own which defines each piece and is demonstrated to great effect on Sense of Urgency. The finale, Afterthought, is a majestic mini-epic that recalls the heady days of progressive rock. Back in the day it could have been expanded to occupy the full side of a vinyl LP!

Dean Watson's Sum OF Parts is a neo-anachronism that encapsulates the vigor of a division of popular music that ruled for a few years, A must listen for seventies die hards yearning for something contemporary in a classic vintage tradition.

Kepler62 | 4/5 |


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