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Dean Watson

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Dean Watson Unsettled album cover
3.81 | 54 ratings | 22 reviews | 6% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2010

Songs / Tracks Listing

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)

Total Time 52:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Dean Watson / composer & performer

Releases information

Inspired by the Ron Eady painting

Artwork: Ron Eady's "Unsettled"

CD self-released (2010, Canada)

Digital album

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DEAN WATSON Unsettled ratings distribution

(54 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(6%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(63%)
Good, but non-essential (28%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

DEAN WATSON Unsettled reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Debut Dean Watson's album is nice instrumental music work. Very competent musicianship, and full-body sound ( for one-man band). Plenty of guitar (quite often - heavy guitar) sound, synth and drums on the very front of the sound mix.

Rooted in symphonic prog and jazz-rock from 70-s, this music is very modern. I mean - you will never feel as you're listening one of old time recordings. With all pros and cons of such situation...

Possibly, I am not the best critic of such music. I listened for thousands of fusion and prog rock albums released between mid 60-s and 2010, and even when music is very different, all of them could be divided in two categories: albums with spirit/atmosphere, and albums without it.

Unhappily, being competent technically, this debut doesn't contain that mystic atmosphere ( and for me all the best jazz and rock are sources of such "atmosphere"). Possibly, one big reason of that is just multilayered one musician recording. There are strong albums, recorded by one man played, but a very few in all progressive rock/fusion history. Because one of most important element, especially speaking about jazz-rock, is moment of live improvisation, even when music is recorded in studio.

There we have calculated sound, without mistakes ( and such mistakes were made by many great musicians, sometimes even on studio recordings), well balanced, fresh enough and not too boring, but a bit "lifeless". OK, music there is more heavy fusion, than jazz rock, so progressive metal influence doesn't require of such "jazzy" atmosphere too much.

But I'm missing it! Nice technical abilities demonstration, with no bad compositions, but too formal and lifeless for being really attractive. Possibly, heavy guitar soloing lovers will be more attracted by this album.

My rating - 2,5, rounded to 3.

Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If you are familiar with the Canadian band ' Where The Nine" then you will no doubt be on the lookout for this recent release from co- founder and multi instrumentalist Dean Watson. Unsettled is a refreshing new release well entrenched in the jazz rock/fusion sound. Arguably a much more cohesive album than the groups more frenzied release " Desensitized to Insanity" but the undercurrent theme is still very much alive. The album kicks off with the highly percussive " The Encounter" before working up to a solid rhythmic outpuring of sound with some great guitar work challenging the percussion throughout. Keyboards/synths are ubiquitous on " Unsettled" and if you like Steve Hillage from the 70's or even some Ozric Tentacles you will know what I mean.

The apty titled "push' is just that...pushing! again laudits would draw comparisons to both The Dixie Dregs and Daryl Stuermer. Nice foot tapping stuff and by the sound of some great hammond work too. This instrumental offering continues with the serene " Out of the Mist' which offers a welcome break from the twists and turns of " Push" " Sequence of Events" is next and here Dean Watson really gets laid back as the languid keys play their part. The rest of the album remains consistently strong in particular " 11th Heaven Blues", IMO one of the high points of the album. To describe an album in a literal sense makes the final track " Still ( Unsettled" simply just that....unsettled. A very odd juncture to finish the album...or unfinish if I understand the artist's intentions.

Overall a great progressive piece of work, more appealing than the group offering and more accomplished overall. I hope it reaches wider audiences because the high level of musicianship deserves it. Four solid stars.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Unsettled is the debut full-length album by Canadian musician Dean Watson. The album was independently released. Unsettled is what I call a "real" solo album as the album was written, recorded, mixed and mastered between May 2009 & March 2010 by Dean Watson himself. In addition to that Dean Watson plays all instruments on the album. That means all guitars, keyboards, bass, drums and percussion. The music on the album is inspired by a painting by Ron Eady called Unsettled. I was first introduced to Dean Watson through his involvement in the Desensitized to Insanity (2008) album by Where´s the Nine but he is also known for his involvement in the seventies fusion act Airkraft. I guess it was only a matter of time before a skilled multi- instrumentalist like Dean Watson would release a solo album.

The music on Unsettled is high quality fusion. Compared to the frenzied and busy nature of Desensitized to Insanity, Unsettled is a bit more well balanced in terms of including both harder edged fusion tracks ( there are even the occasional part that sounds like progressive metal in some tracks) and more melodic content. The strong opener The Encounter sets the standard right from the start. Strong musicianship, intricate songwriting and a clean and powerful production. The production might be a bit too sterile for some people but I enjoy the sound. My favorite here is probably the slow building, dark and atmospheric Out of the Mist. It´s a pretty unique track on the album and it really touches me. The mood changes a lot on the album though and a "lighter" track like The Push is also great material.

As noted above the sound production is clean and maybe a bit sterile, at least compared to the more warm sounding jazz rock/ fusion albums from the seventies.

Unsettled is a great album by Dean Watson. Not only are we exposed to brilliant musicianship but also high quality songwriting. I really enjoy that the songs are not just show-offs of Dean Watson´s playing skills but also really great structured compositions filled with emotions and intricate ideas. A 4 star rating is fully deserved.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Dean Watson's debut splashes paint strokes of light and dark textures on the canvas to create a glittering triumph.

Dean Watson, who made an impact with Where's The Nine, decides to do it solo on this album aptly titled "Unsettled", inspired by a painting. Indeed the music never settles into one genre, merging from jazz fusion to strands of metal, and some eclectic work thrown in for good measure. The keyboards dominate at times and then distorted guitars crash in to add a darker texture to the canvas.

The Encounter begins things with an odd time signature of kaleidoscopic keys and guitars, a fast paced King Crimsonish passage that moves into cruise mode with a motif that locks in to allow the electric guitar to make its presence felt. It is brilliant guitar work that will appeal to the Joe Satriani fan or likewise. The first track is reminiscent of Keith Emerson with some heavy duty blasts of Hammond that shimmer and crunch to an off kilter rhythm, rarely settling into one time signature.

The Push has an out of sync rhythm with spiderlings of synth and multi layered organ. There is a subtle guitar riff and a few outbursts of off beat pounding drums and electric mayhem. The chaotic feel is counter balanced with moments of melodic order; an enjoyable romp through many different styles.

Out Of The Mist is an 8 and a half minute progfest of very dark guitar chords and sustained keyboard pads. It begins with acoustic diminished picking that feels at times as though you are in a cathedral, with violin synth pads, and there is a dark ambience. The distorted lengthy guitar chords slice in after 4 minutes and add to the atmosphere which is doomy and Gothic. It could well be the soundtrack to a slasher film. The grim feel of impending terror is accomplished by striking guitar distortion and this is mixed with moments of transfixing beauty. The pace quickens with the same melody but it locks into traditional chugging metal territory till it fades out . Another highlight of the album.

Sequence Of Events is an intriguing piece with a synthetic mixed sequencer and metal distorted galloping guitars. This is a curious hybrid that seems to work well enough reminding me of the 80s Rush years at times. The keyboards are off the scale here with Jordan Rudess-style keyboard rips that burn at a blistering pace. At 2:20 the pace slows and an electric piano solo eases steadily along; a jazz fusion passage with hi hat cymbal splashes.

DIP has a cool funky beat and a melodic guitar, with quick staccato stabs of Hammond. There is a passage of piano with pads which sound very effective, then the guitars begin to play powerful melodies that lift the spirit high. There is a polyrhythmic feel accomplished with sporadic drums and bass.

The Departure begins with a wind effect and quiet gentle piano, and the low bassy synth chords provide a framework for soaring guitar licks. The grinding Hammond is effective to transition the music to a half time feel with two chord bursts that repeat while improvised glockenspiel sounds fill the void.

Gray Matter is an amazing tour de force of guitars trading off with keyboards. Some of the most accomplished guitar work is on this track and it features a lengthy middle section where keys blaze away duelling with electric soaring guitars. Downward sweeps and speed picking at a healthy tempo veer the track onward to its dramatic finale; a definitive highlight.

Orb is heavily laden with synthesizers and electric piano. There are still some quirky time shifts throughout and a very pleasant lead riff that is choppy and jazzy. The melody is more upbeat on this with a unique drum pattern. A keyboard solo permeates the track and it progresses to a heavy ambience with an almost spacey feel. There is a load of emotion on this track. At 4:33 the track stops and moves into a jazz feel with pounding drums and low bassy synth over an electric piano motif.

11th Heaven Blues is next with a heavier feel saturating the soundscape with soaring guitars and an off beat tempo with estranged synth chords. The lead guitar rips into a solo with fret melting flourishes and huge string bends. The keyboard solo is a dirty Hammond sound harkening back to the 70s with ELP or The Nice. The metal nuances are there to remind us that this is still a refreshing approach to music blending a myriad of genres. I believe this track must rate as a highlight and is very progressive in its style.

Still (unsettled) is the very last track and a short burst of acoustic kicks it off but without a discernible time sig. The piano is a beautiful touch creating an atmosphere of stark isolation. The ethereal feel is created with minimalism and intermittent playing.

The conclusion is this is another great project from Dean Watson, a pleasant delight from start to finish with virtuoso musicianship. The music becomes an absorbing experience with compelling sections that mesmirise on each listen and you are able to take something different each time from it depending on your mood. The music takes you on a trip from light to dark locations and it can be used for all occasions, primarily for headphone intensity, or it can be enjoyed as you read or study. Solo instrumental albums can suffer from fatigue and lack of originality coming from the one source, but in the case of "Unsettled" this is not the case. On the contrary, this is some of the best instrumental music your ears are likely to be caressed with; an eargasm of ice cold jazz fusion served up with a blast of progressive fire.

Review by progkidjoel
4 stars A wonderful mix of the old and the new; the traditional and the contemporary; a fascinating mix of elements which, combined, create a wonderful album.

Dean Watson's 'Unsettled' is just that; a fantastic combination of diverse styling, sound and wonderful instrumentation. This wonderful showcase of a man of many talents is a true testament to the creativity which many artists who fly under the radar can display, and a true pleasure to listen to. This eclectic mix shows some wonderful synthsmanship and guitar work, creating a brilliant duality too often overlooked in modern prog. The combination perfectly compliments the jazzy, and at times metallic, feel of the overall album and makes for some brilliant music.

The whole album is a compelling journey through thousands of musical microcosms, and a wonderful listen each time.

The album opens with 'The Encounter', a wonderful track featuring brilliant piano and guitar work, with some great solos as well. The track opens up with a great tribal feel, and as an amateur guitarist and pianist myself, I can appreciate the amazing musicianship displayed by Dean on both of these instruments on this piece - the technicality, emotion AND atmosphere are all present, and the combination is perfectly balanced ? the solos are incredibly well played, but never cross the border into distastefully technical ? the perfect balance is maintained, and the sound is always organic and flowing.

Other tracks like The Push are great rockers, with some wonderful solos and synth work yet again. This track also carries the same mysterious texture as the previous, although feels both familiar and completely different? A wonderful comparison to the opener.

Out Of The Mist is the longest track on the album, and easily my favourite from the bunch. This is a brooding instrumental and has a super dense atmosphere, with a genuine sound to boot. The track flows with the same riff and various underlying soundscapes to blow the mind and torture the soul; this track feels reminiscent of Porcupine Tree at times. Eventually, this track explodes into an orchestra of noise. It's wonderful to hear an artist who, whilst clearly influenced by an eclectic bunch of artists, never seems to become a cheap copy and instead uses such influences to create an original sound rather than an internal tribute. The guitar and drumming combination in the last 3 minutes of this track stand up against some of the real modern prog giants in this reviewer's opinion.

Sequence Of Events is a great little transitional track, switching from a metal intro and mid-section into a great jazz outro. The drumming here is particularly fantastic, really top-shelf stuff.

DIP is another track which has some fantastic jumps from several recurring musical themes into one another, as well as featuring a great blend of emotions surrounding each theme. The first guitar solo is absolutely heartbreaking, and solos are rarely as well written as many found on this album. The piano layers here are a particularly curiosity; as a pianist myself, it's really quite a stunning job, and has been pulled off very well, with it's theatrical feel well intact.

The Departure is a spacey, slow moving track which takes a while to get off. The soaring solo which makes up the bulk of this track is really great, quite reminiscent of John Petrucci of Dream Theater, although Dean is no one-trick pony.

Gray Matter features a similar drumming intro to the opener, with more wonderful guitar and synth layering. The combo of the drumming and keyboard layers here is simultaneously chaotic and controlled, although with the added guitar solo, this track seems to be a little bit too busy for it's own good at times. Still a great piece, but this feels pale in comparison to the balance of most of the other pieces.

Next upon the album, Orb opens up with a great jazzy, piano-led feel and some chugging guitar and a supremely catchy rhythm, the synth being the obvious star of this track along with the understated drums. The layered keyboards are the key feature here - the interplay is wonderful over the droning guitar riff and drums. This track does feel a little overlong at times, although the second half is a great change to a much slower paced track, although still featuring some familiar sections from the first half. This closes with a triumphant, epic last minute of brilliant musicianship.

11th Heaven Blues is a much more metallic track than a lot of the album, with a pounding guitar drum/section and a stunning solo with some quick choppy synth chords, eventually leading into another fantastic soaring solo on the keys. The riff towards the end of the track is easily my favourite on the album, and one that'll really get stuck in your head for hours after. Great stuff.

The album comes to a close with Still (Unsettled), a great little track with soothing drums and soft guitar work. The occasionally piano sections create a dark, haunting feel which causes both unease and relaxation with it's unique sound. This track stirs to a close with the same drums which opened it.

Overall, Mr. Watson presents us with an incredibly strong album which will keep you coming back time after time. It does, however, feel a little repetitive in parts, although is largely a very, very solid release.

4 stars for this one. Fantastic!

Review by progrules
4 stars Dean Watson's former band was Where's the Nine and along with percussion companion Barry Connors he did an impeccable performance with their only album Desensitized into Insanity. It was fusion of the highest caliber as far as I'm concerned but still circumstances forced Dean to call it a day and he went for this solo release which is in it's entirety to be heard on his myspace page.

It's obvious Dean is a man with both musical and compositional talent. Again he made a terrific album with also here all instrumental tracks in fusion style. With Where's the Nine he managed to play some extremely complex fusion but even though this is roughly the same style, this album is somewhat more accessible. The melodies are easier to comprehend and it's up to the listener which of the two is more suitable.

I myself am torn right in between WtN and Dean solo. Both albums are great and a fair asset to any fusion collection. The ultimate rating will be no surprise. "Desensitized " was a B+ already and this solo achievement is around the B-mark as well. Well done once again Dean ! 4 stars easily.

Review by JLocke
4 stars With Unsettled, Dean Watson has managed to create exciting, uncompromising music that is clearly inspired from the great Jazz and Prog acts of old, yet remains firmly grounded in something much more modern.

I admit, when I first received my review copy of this album (generously donated by the artist himself), I was all but unaware of Watson's previous work (collaborations such as Where's The Nine). So I had no idea what to expect. Part of me was expecting just another generic Prog Metal album that claims to be 'Fusion' (this type of stuff seems to litter this sub-genre quite a lot), but I was also hoping that this notion of mine would be wrong. I am happy to say that this is by and large a fresh, original work from a clearly talented artist, and I am eagerly awaiting any future offerings he may have in store.

The album's first track, ''The Encounter'', does begin with a very Prog Metal vibe, and to be honest, that worried me. Not that I have anything against it, but if this was all the album was going to be, I would have been quite disappointed. The piece itself is quite memorable and exciting, however, and once the next track hit my ears, all of my fears went out the window. ''The Push'' is pure Jazz-Rock/Fusion. It's got a killer beat, great rhythms, soulful playing from all the instruments, and is much less bombastic as the previous track. It is already one of my favorite tracks on the Unsettled release.

''Out Of The Mist'' is an absolutely breathtaking musical journey that stole my heart as soon as the opening riff entered my headphones. Beautiful and melancholy, offering a very mystic atmosphere (something an earlier review said this album lacked. Did we even hear the same album?). I just love it. Nothing about the track is overly-eager or hurried; it takes its time getting to where it wishes to be. Around the middle section, heavy, almost tuneless crashes of dread come pummeling onto the scene, creating an instant sense of unrest, but one that absolutely fits the piece perfectly. Soon, the song dies down and returns to its gorgeous main riff. This gears the listener up for some really awesome heavy beats that are just around the corner. After a few bars of that, the lighter, acoustic side of the music starts to slowly mesh with the distorted and the heavy. This envelopes the listener completely, satisfying both sides of this piece to their fullest potential. A steady fadeout ends the ride. If Unsettled has a so-called 'epic' track, I suppose ''Out Of The Mist'' would be it. Just a great song, offering such a variety. Might be my favorite piece out of all of them offered on the album.

''Sequence of Events'' is a jumpy, energetic ride into more heavy territory. I wouldn't say it's one of the best tracks Unsettled has to offer, but I can't deny that the soaring keyboard textures put quite a smile on my face. During the final minute or so of the track's span, things become 100% Jazz, with hot cymbal hits and a wild organ solo. I honestly wish more of the song had featured that than the chugging guitar stuff, but there is enough of it present to make the track worth hearing, even if you're not much of a heavy music fan.

''DIP'' is fantastic. I just love it. The opening is simple, quirky and fun as hell to listen to. I think that it has a little something for everyone. The guitar riffs played in here just make my heart soar with hope. The main riff that carries the song through most of the time is the real star, however. It's really cool and creative. A super guitar solo comes in at around two minutes, but quickly ends to make way for a lovely unison between a more digitized keyboard sound and a traditional piano. Soon, the rest of the instruments switch gears underneath this moment, and the song begins to really charge forward. Things halt, and a light, jazzy piano solo takes over. It slowly brings the mood from upbeat and kind to dark and aggressive, but by this point, I think I was waiting for it. The piece needed to head into completely different territory, and what a great turn it takes, too! Some reverb-laden pick scrapes adding atmosphere that puts me in mind of Tool comes in, then this new, heavy guitar riff chugs ahead, full-force. The guitar patterns at this point make me think of the harder-edges Porcupine Tree stuff, but who's to say where the inspiration actually came from. All I know is that it fits, and is pulled off damn well. An ethereal guitar solo bridges the gap between this and the original riff that has been waiting to carry the track the rest of the way to it's resounding finish.

''The Departure'' instantly put me in mind of something Andreas Vollenweider or Jean-Luc Ponty would do. I'm not entirely sure why, but in any case, it's a good thing. This is a very guitar-centric tune, but various keyboard sounds help texture the space around the star instrument and keep things from getting too boring. And the leads being played here keep moving forward, ensuring a worthwhile listening experience. During the last third of the track, things change gears into more straightforward territory in the guitar department, but it makes way for a cool lead keyboard accompaniment that is all too short. The song ends.

''Gray Matter'' has a very spacey, epic feel to it, but also has a very smooth, jazzy quality. The heavier parts are the guitars' moments to shine, and this pretty much spends me up, guitar-wise on the record. This is the last song in which the super- destructive, hard-hitting guitar solos and rhythms interest me. The next piece will feature them as well, but by that time, it feels like an old hat, at least to me. This particular song also features one of the most beautiful guitar solos on Unsettled, so both elements-- soft and the heavy-- are shining bright and proud on this track. Overall, an above-average work in comparison.

''Orb''. It starts off in a way that doesn't particularly interest me, but does pick up speed after awhile. It probably is my least favorite piece on the record, however. Mainly I think because anytime something truly interesting, experimental, or Jazz-oriented starts to take shape, the Metal side of things jump in and crowd it. It causes the song to sound more disjointed than anything else. I also think by this point, the heavy guitars and dark soundscapes have already been done, and I was waiting for something more to happen. On this particular track, it didn't. Not for me, at least. But hey, the musicianship is top-notch as with all the other works, and there are things to enjoy, here. But the enjoyment I got from it wasn't as consistent as the other tracks. I would say this: the second half of ''Orb'' is much, much better than the first. If you can get through the first part, you'll very much appreciate the rest.

''11th Heaven Blues''. The biggest compliment I can pay this song is that it isn't overly long. As I said, the metal stuff got old for me after a little while. Not that it isn't impressive to hear in the proper environment, but I personally feel like too much focus was put on this side of the music at times and not enough was given to the rest of the elements that make this music great. I like this track just a little more than ''Orb'', but it's nothing distinctive or even all that entertaining for my tastes. And I like Metal-oriented music, just not on Jazz-Rock or Fusion records. There should be a balance, i think.

''Still'' is among my top three tracks on this release. It does everything right, really. Keeps things simple, considering the length of the track (or lack thereof), yet never gets repetitive or boring. Unusual acoustic guitar work accompanied by uplifting Jazz guitar, both elements held in a net of atmospheric ambience. Wonderful little track.

Overall, I was indeed impressed by this album. As I said, I look forward to whatever this man comes up with next, as I'm sure he will continue to hone his skills and improve in any and all areas of his art. Things can only go up from here, and I wish nothing but the best for Dean Watson. Yes, there is some filler, in my opinion. Yes, it does get a little too Metal and grungy at times (especially near the album's end), but this work is far from generic, which is what impressed me the most. The music found within, by and large, is good. Very good. And even though I had some complaints, they were more about personal taste and had nothing to do with the quality of the record itself. Anybody who appreciates good musicianship and songwriting should find something to truly enjoy, here.

So, this was a worthwhile listen, and I do recommend it to the more open-minded listener. I somehow feel like my life has actually been made richer by tunes such as ''Out Of The Mist''. I just wish more songs like those has made the final cut. Perhaps next time a slightly more balanced effort will come from this artist. Until then, however, this album will more than suffice. 3.5 stars.

Review by jampa17
4 stars Impressive, fresh and atmospheric. One of the best instrumental albums I've heard lately. Dean Watson is a capable multi instrumentalist, plays with taste, force and technical abilities that are shown through this first solo album. He played all the instruments and its impressive how the complete piece sounds like a tight band ensemble. Never getting too technical or flashy, this album has a wonderful taste-atmosphere that easily leads the listener to enjoy each part.

There are some things that tend to hurt a solo project. One of the most evident is that the music tends to have only one dimension, one approach and became plain. This is NOT the case of this album. Each track has its own flavor, identity and let you discover some nice places to imagine things. The best way to describe the music is: Stimulating. Weather following a nice clean keyboard solo or hearing a wonderful jazzy phrase, a keyboard space sound section or a pretty heavy (but very "classy") guitar riff, each song has personality and when you see the painting from which the songs were inspired, the stimulation is perfect to take you to a very nice place. Even the dark moments are pleasing, at least to my ears.

Another thing that sometimes tends to hurt a self made production is that the mixing is not always perfect, some details are missing. Well, again, here you won't find those wrong details. It's evident that the musician made a dedicated job and the result is a shining piece of music. Especially the choices for the sounds of keyboards and guitar distortions, those are perfect and merge very well together.

No excesses, no self indulgences, not trying to project pretentious boundaries, this album has a great magic or vibe, you won't feel like a shredding demonstration, this is music and leave you something, project energy and emotion.

I like the whole album because it's a pleasure to the ears, but I will point to a couple of songs that just have the power to entertain you. DIP is one of those songs that you just can't stop listening to. It has vibe, nice rhythm, wonderful sound choices and it's just wonderful. Out of the Mist is another great track, very dark and mellow but fresh at the same time.

So, don't overlook this album, this a wonderful piece of music that every instrumental lover would love for sure, and I'm already a fan of Dean Watson. I hope to hear more of him soon. 4.5 stars and maybe growing. Pleasing and fresh. That's it.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Unsettled' - Dean Watson (7/10)

Having never heard of Dean Watson or any of his numerous projects before listening to 'Unsettled,' I can safely say that I had no idea what to expect from the music, or any preconceptions about the man's work. Yet as the chaotic resonance of the album's opener 'The Encounter' entered my ears, I could tell that this was going to be a memorable, if not captivating journey, at the very least. This talented artist hailing from the cultural center of Canada has produced a very skilled instrumental voyage with 'Unsettled,' and despite a few flaws in the execution of the piece, I am glad I have been introduced to this music.

Don't be fooled by the 'jazz' label of the music, 'Unsettled' has more in kin with instrumental rock and progressive metal than proper fusion. Crossing my ears as a pleasant mixture of Joe Satriani's soaring guitar wizardry and some of Dream Theater's heavier, proggy riffs with a few Pat Metheny nuances for good measure, it makes for a great formula for an instrumental venture. While the album does maintain much of the same 'sound' throughout, the music dazes through a number of different emotions and dynamic typesets, making sure that each song has something fresh to offer to the table, and not merely a rehash of the track before.

While the music is energetic and vibrant, at times it feels like Watson relies a bit too heavily on 'soloing' and skill showboating over actual songwriting substance. While he is clearly a brilliant musician, it can feel like his soloing style lacks melodic girth; a trait made all the more important due to the lack of vocal work here.

While 'Unsettled' is primarily a guitar-driven business, the musical highlight rests on the brilliance of the keyboard work here. An educated and experienced keyboardist, Dean makes vibrant use of his skill, throwing a wide range of key sounds into the mix; synths to string sections to light piano and rock organ. One thing I noticed that the man does particularly well is the harmonized keyboard soloing technique; something that any fan of Dream Theater will be well-familiarized with. The proggy rocker 'Sequence Of Events' demonstrates this very well.

While I have criticized Watson's lack of melody in his solo playing, the heartfelt track 'The Departure' is a sure claim that he can make stunning melodies work wonders in his lead work. Sounding much like a love song plucked from Joe Satriani's discography, Dean plays beautifully, paying careful attention to making each note perfect in it's execution. As the song reaches it's pinnacle, some heaviness enters the mix, led onward by a strong vibraphone lick. With that being said, 'The Departure' may very well be my favourite track off of the disc.

In conclusion, Watson has made an impressive instrumental bout here. While not perfect by any stretch and at times excessive, 'Unsettled' is energetic and intelligent, and sure to appeal to anyone looking for an exciting instrumental work to dig into. There are a few moments in the album that don't serve the flow well (the overdrawn piece 'Out Of The Mist,' in particular) but this is an album that is easy to listen to from start to finish. With each new listen to 'Unsettled,' there will always be something new to notice.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars And as the name suggests, this music won't be calm, peaceful and resting, because this album is Unsettled. Even at first listen (or two), I didn't like first two songs, the more I'm listening to this album, the more I like them. And not just these two, most of this album does this "magic" for me, each of them tells its story.

It wouldn't be fair to say that The Push is just a jam song (as I heard somebody saying in connection with guys Portnoy & Rudess like music). It's the same thing as that The Godfather is just a film. Yes, but no. There are killer elements (killer rhythms, killer synths - that also reminds Elephant9-esque sound a little bit. Nothing too big, but it's nice).

Oh, there is also beauty (after the beast track) of Out of the Mist with its slow, gentle flow being there for almost 7 minutes only to be interrupted (for greater good?) by rocking reprise. Maybe it doesn't sound that unique, but believe me, it is. For about 6:30 of first part's length, the song structure is slowly changing, while repeatedly using similar pattern (but slightly changed, tiny differences there, small variations - great treat).

5(-), quality of technical side is clear to hear. Dean Watson is skilled musician and in the realm of one man projects, based on this album, he's one of the best ones. Maybe not unsettled, but rather uncompromising album this is, demanding a lot on listener.

But there's also human touch in these tracks (not literally speaking), for which this album is so interesting for me. It's sleeping beauty, or "grower" as some call it. It will grow on you.

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. After one listen I was pretty excited as I knew I had something here that was very special. Well here I am after many listens, and if anything I'm even more blown away by this album.There is such a depth to the sound here and the way everything is arranged and composed has really left me with my jaw hanging. I love the heaviness on this recording as well, I mean there's different moods and textures but certainly the heaviness is what i'm drawn to along with the atmosphere. Dean recently did an album under the name WHERE'S THE NINE with former CONEY HATCH drummer Barry Connors that I will get my hands on one day. I used to love CONEY HATCH back in the eighties. Anyway I digress.

"The Encounter" is uptempo with drums out front then the guitar comes in shaking things up as it turns heavy. It settles back some as the drums pound and the guitar solos. Riffs are back after 4 minutes, organ too. "The Push" has this funky rhythm as the guitar starts to solo over top.The keyboards after 1 1/2 minutes sound great. "Out Of The Mist" opens with gentle guitar and background synths.This sounds really cool. Some nice bass after 3 1/2 minutes.This is so moving. It turns heavy after 4 minutes. So much atmosphere. It kicks in at 6 1/2 minutes and i'd say he's out of the mist now. Killer sound ! "Sequence Of Events" has this almost galloping rhythm with synths. It doesn't last long as it turns heavy. It lightens after 2 1/2 minutes to end it.

"Dip" features drums and keyboards early on. The guitar comes and goes. This sounds so good. It's heavier before 2 minutes then the guitar starts to rip it up. Piano replaces the guitar then it settles. The guitar changes that 3 1/2 minutes in. Here we go ! It lightens 5 1/2 minutes in as the keyboards lead to the end. "The Departure" opens with the wind blowing as piano then drums join in.The atmosphere is deep as the guitar solos tastefully. Beautiful. A change 3 minutes in as we get a solid beat with organ, great sound. "Gray Matter" has this heavy rhythm with guitar and synths playing over top. Check out the guitar 2 1/2 minutes in. Piano after 3 1/2 minutes. It kicks back in then piano ends it. "Orb" opens with piano before a heavy soundscape with guitar takes over quickly. A heavy rhythm with synths comes in before 2 1/2 minutes and ends around 4 1/2 minutes. Nice. "11th Heaven Blues" is powerful and the guitar becomes the focus a minute in. Synths lead a minute later.The guitar is back 3 1/2 minutes in. "Still (Unsettled)" opens with light drums as acoustic guitar joins in. Drums, synths and piano eventually help out as well.

I am completely taken by this album. A must for Jazz / Fusion lovers. Only the programmed drumming is keeping me from giving this 5 stars.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Unsettled is by no means a jazz rock album in any traditional sense, instead using jazz chord structures as a vehicle for an eclectic array of musical ventures. Dean Watson is a cache of both talent and good ideas, such that it's almost unfair that such gifts be bestowed to one person. He shines as an arranger, a guitarist, and most notably, as a keyboardist. The album takes a minor dip in the middle, but never once gets sour- it is a trove of fantastic and varied music from one talented individual.

"The Encounter" From the opening piece, one might get the impression that this album is firmly in heavy progressive rock territory, with wildly powerful electric guitar, bizarre synthetic tones, and repetitive organ. It's like a three-way train wreck among Ozric Tentacles, ELP, and 1980s Rush- a train wreck that made something unimaginably impressive.

"The Push" However, the album does move closer to jazz rock with a funky, grinding rhythm and fantastic organ work, injecting occasional synthetic flair.

"Out of the Mist" As though unsatisfied with the variance displayed thus far, Watson changes face again, offering a pensive, melancholic and beautiful piece initially featuring multiple guitars creating calming textures and wonderful melodies. It eventually drives close to progressive metal terrain, with chugging guitar and an emphasis on drums.

"Sequence of Events" This is what I imagine a modernized 1970s ELP would sound like- a bed of organ under whirling synthesizer leads, driving drums, and a bit of electric guitar bulking out the sound.

"DIP" After four stellar pieces, "DIP" is one that is merely good. It has a basic, bouncy jazzy premise that moves into smoother alternative rock music- all in all, not bad really, but just not on the same level as everything that has come before. Eerie piano moves into an electric guitar riff before going back into the main riff, this time with a sprightly bit of keyboard soloing.

"The Departure" This lead guitar excursion takes place over dark synthesizer and piano. A tad generic in terms of composition, but it is well executed, and the guitar boasts a remarkable tone. The music adopts an abrupt funky groove toward the end.

"Gray Matter" "Gray Matter" involves a more technical guitar performance over a more traditional jazz accompaniment. Light electric piano and synthesizer also take center stage.

"Orb" The album returns to grandiose keyboard, again pairing jazz fusion with hard rock- a delightfully dynamic work reminding me of Kerry Livgren's instrumental music from the late 1980s.

"11th Heaven Blues" As the name suggests, the album turns toward blues music, but the rhythm itself eschews the traditional chord progressions associated with the genre. Instead, it is up to the lead instruments, the electric guitar and the organ, to do the channeling.

"Still (unsettled )" The closing track is a morose acoustic guitar, piano, and percussion piece.

Review by TheGazzardian
4 stars Dean Watsons 2010 release, Unsettled, is a great instrumental prog album. It sits a lot closer to the rock side of the jazz/rock spectrum, but the jazz influence is undeniably there. So are some very heavy guitars, making surprise appearances from time to time (when they emerge near the beginning of the The Encounter, it's surprising enough to me that I almost imagine Dean, in the studio, being just as surprised the first time he heard the track with them in). From the moment the album starts until the last note, it is an enjoyable ride, especially for a solo debut.

The music moves adeptly between varying themes, often in a single track, often ranging from emotional or moody sections to the harder rocking sections. The track DIP is an excellent example of this, with a jazzy/rock section followed by some mood-setting piano music, followed once more with a different rocking section.

As far as the mood setting aspect of the album goes, I feel the track "Out of the Mist" is one of the better ones, with the slow acoustic build up, although I am sure this is somewhat effected by my appreciation for the acoustic guitar.

One aspect of the music that truly must be noted is that this entire album is played by Dean all by himself - a fact that I find somewhat difficult to believe. It sounds like a band recording, with the instruments all interacting with each other very responsively. Dean demonstrates that he truly is a master of a number of instruments and styles on this album.

Unfortunately, there is one weak point, and that is that some of the tracks don't end in a way that feels cohesive to me. "Out of the Mist", despite being one of my favorite tracks on the album, suffers from this - at the end, after the song has built into a great climax, it simply fades out. A more cohesive ending would have really clinched the track. In the context of all of the great music that is contained on this album, this is just a minor complaint.

Review by J-Man
4 stars A Unique Modern Jazz-Rock Success

Dean Watson is one talented guy if I've ever heard one. As a matter of fact, he's the type of musician that everybody's envious of. With his debut album, Unsettled, Dean plays all the instruments, composes all of the music, and then went on to mix, master, and self release the album all in less than one year. What's even more shocking is that Unsettled is actually an incredible album! Often times these 100% solo works can end up a bit messy in the end, but Dean Watson's proved that a completely solo album can still be very successful if done right.

The music on Unsettled is a pretty diverse jazz rock sound. Expect to hear plenty of influences from progressive rock, metal, and even some ambient and post rock sounds. If you're the type of guy who is only into the 70's jazz rock classics, this diversity may come as an issue for you. For everyone else (myself included), this diversity is part of what makes Unsettled so great. Songs like Out of the Mist (which is a beautiful work of art) are extremely unique and highly enjoyable. There are some more traditional-sounding jazz rock tunes (like Orb, The Push, and Sequence of Events), and these are great as well. For me, instrumental albums usually tend to drag on, but Dean Watson pulls off a 52 minute album with consistency and ease thanks to his diversified sound.

As you could imagine from such a spectacular solo album, the musicianship is pretty great as well. It honestly amazes me that Dean Watson has completely mastered so many instruments. It seems that his keyboard playing often takes the spotlight, but the other instruments are also played professionally.

The production is an acquired taste, but I like it. It's very clean and sharp, but it suits the music pretty well. A warm, welcoming seventies jazz rock production just wouldn't have worked here in my opinion.


Unsettled is a really great album from Dean Watson. It's rare that I hear a solo album this good, and I highly recommend all fans of jazz rock and prog to check this 2010 gem out. The songwriting, performances, and the overall quality of Unsettled makes it one of the best prog fusion albums to come out this year. 4 stars are warranted for such a great release.

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Dean Watson is a multi instrumentalist fuzion artist from Canada, releasing his first solo album this year in summer. The album entitled Unsettled is a great journey in jazz fusion world. Before this album he also participated on Where's The Nine colaborating with known musician from this field. Back to Unsettled, I was very pleasent surprise from the beggining, great guitar elements combined in a great manner with fantastic keybords arrangements, also great druming, all this elements are made by one person Dean Watson, he playes at all instruments involved here and the result is excellent. All pieces are winners, not a boring moment here. From up tempo tunes where Watso share his great skills on any instrument he playes, to a more laid back moments, he is always great. For ex DIP is a great jazz fusion piece where Deat Watson mean business in this field, great catchy tune, groovy with blistering and inventive keybords. Very good album, maybe little known in prog rock circles, but for sure desearve a better view. One of the most enjoyble albums from fusion I've liste recently , together with Relocator and another few releases from this year. 4 stars for Unsettled, a great example from today where skills meets inventivness in agreat manner. Recommended.

Review by CCVP
4 stars For me, it is settled

Listening to Dean Watson's Unsettled for the last month came to be a really interesting oportunity for me to keep expanding my musical horizonts. That is because, over the past two years or so, I have been increasingly interested in jazz in general and the idea of listening to yet another interesting jazz album was too tempting for me to resist, specially due to Watson's offer of free music in exchange for my opinion about his music.

I must confess that listening to Unsettled for the firsts times were not like walking through a flowerbed in springtime. First, the song development makes sitting through the album somewhat confusing at times, considerably messing with the experience if you are not paying attention exclusevely to the music. It is not uncommon to find yourself wondering where did the artist want to go in this part and most times I simply cannot find an answer. It is as if, at times, the musical ideas were just sewed together. This problem can be clearly seen in the song DIP in particular, but it happens through most of the album.

Another problem that this album has is one that I have been frequently finding in albums released in the last decade: the song order. Despite its less than rare occurance, it never ceases to be somewhat troubling to listen to an album with an inconsistent song order. In this album's case, however, it appears that Dean Watson tried to balance out the good songs and the only average songs he had at hand by putting them one after the other like in this way: one good, one regular, one good, one regular and so on.

Wile that decision did make the album be very balanced (and thus far from being tiresome), it also made the bad characteristics of the weaker songs stand out like much more than they should, what is never a good thing.

Apart from those two big problems, I can't point out any other significant downside here. The instrumental work is spot on, it is really competent throughout the whole album and the production is also very well made, though it did made the instruments sound a bit muffled at times, specially the bass, but still light-years ahead of the terrible "loud" production that has haunted the music industry in the recent years.

There are a number of different music styles in Unsettle, what make the album varied keeps the music interesting and entertain for both the progressive rock and the jazz fan. The music ranges from very hard, heavy and straightforward songs, to standard jazz-rock improvisations, from the experimental restlessness to pastoral quiteness.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Dean Watson's Unsettled is, overall, a very decent debut album, though it could sure be a bit better. The songwriting do no dissappoint, the instrumental playing is very good and the production also can't let you down. The song development and order in which the songs are, however, do take its toll in the album's overall quality.

Taking all into consideration, the album's rating is 3.5, rounded to 4 in PA's rating system.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Dean Watson is one of many of today's one-man projects. And despite the potential of the music, the album suffers from that typical one-man illness, being excellent at the leading instruments but disappointing in the other departments. As a result, the music lacks the spontaneous interplay and creative exchange of ideas that are expected from jazz-rock.

Let's start with the biggest turn-off, being mr. Roland on the drum-kit and, if I'm not mistaken, on some of the bass as well. Really, these programmed drums don't do the music justice, no matter how well the patterns are designed; it makes everything too rigid, missing punch, dynamics and variety. The virtuoso organs and guitars crave for the interaction with equally accomplished drums and bass, but as it stands, you only get half of the deal here.

When the metal riffs take the lead, the stark drum programming works better. Logical, most Metal these days sounds as if it has drum computers instead of real drums, so our ears are used to it. Another reason is that the thick metal guitars mask the tiny synthetic sound of the drums. The dull snare especially knocks the breath out of this music. When the songs are less metal and more spacious (as on DIP), they lack life and a beating heart.

Luckily, in terms of composition the quality is good and at times even excellent. Out of the Mist and 11th Heaven Blues especially are not to be missed. The industrial feel of the latter being an example where the drum computer works quite well. In other words, this album has potential for excellence but it lacks too much of what makes jazz-rock so great and fulfilling.

Being quite the fan of fusion I do miss atmosphere, soul, warmth, adventure and dynamics in this album. The compositions are good though and deserve a real band with live drums.

In a sub dominated by the likes of Davis, Hancock, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Soft Machine, this is a 2.5 star album for me. Promising but not accomplished yet. Given the quality guitar work and occasional metal angle, this album might still be attractive to metal and heavy rock fans with some interest in jazz-rock.

Review by Windhawk
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars 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.

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.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Canadian multi-instrumentalist Dean Watson was influenced by both Progressive Rock and Jazz-Fusion back in the 70's, listening to the works of Genesis, Gentle Giant, Todd Rundgren, Return to Forever and Jan Hammer, eventually forming the Prog/Fusion band Airkraft in late-70's (only a vinyl single out).His name appeared again in 2007, when he and ex-Airkraft drummer Barry Connors formed Where's The Nine, unfortunately their recordings have yet to be released.Dean decided to move on as an individual and in 2009 he recorded his first solo effort ''Unsettled'', a self-released CD with a cover taken by the eponymous painting of his friend Ron Eady.

''Unsettled'' is a work of powerful and fiery Progressive/Fusion with an excess of energy, often flirting the metal territory regarding the guitars and offering plenty of interesting moments.The album is quite close to the works of compatriots KARCIUS and SPACED OUT as well as NIACIN, dynamic Fusion musicianship, characterized by the large amount of breaks and solos.Some tracks are of a pure Jazz-Fusion type with virtuosic guitars, flashy synthesizers and groovy keyboard/piano work, these specific numbers may even remind you of the excellent US outfit 4FRONT.On the other hand Dean has also included compositions, which are more progressive in nature, like the superb spacey instrumental journey of ''Out of the mist'', the melodic orchestral ''The Departure'' with the excellent guitars, synths and vibraphones or the acoustic mellow piece ''Still (unsettled)'' with his lovely piano.Watson's guitar work though remains the complete highlight of this album with a style close to JOHN PETRUCCI, ranging from technical workouts to splendid melodies.

Watson's work on production, mix and drum programming is another reason ''Unsettled'' reveals a high level of professionalism.Nice discovery for all fans of the aforementioned bands and strongly recommended in general...3.5 stars.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Dean's Watson's 'Unsettled' is a refreshing and innovative instrumental album that blends progressive technical ectasy with old-fashioned rock and jazz styles, while still remaining copiously tasteful. 'Unsettled' starts with the track entitled "The Encounter," which is a great space-j ... (read more)

Report this review (#345471) | Posted by The Monodrone | Monday, December 6, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars When I was a kid, I got a cassette with (supposed to be) the best music by The Shadows. That was an interesting experience which has coloured my view on instrumental rock. Dean Watson's debut album is not straight rock. Neither is it straight fusion either. It is a fusion between rock and fu ... (read more)

Report this review (#306923) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Wednesday, October 27, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Unsettled - Continuously moving or changing. Not situated in one place. In May 2010 an interview appeared in Canada's national newspaper The Globe and Mail with the grandad of shock rock Alice Cooper. Alice wasn't happy with the state of music these days. He complained that young musicians today ... (read more)

Report this review (#284461) | Posted by Vibrationbaby | Tuesday, June 1, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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