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FANTASIZER!

Dean Watson

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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Dean Watson Fantasizer! album cover
3.99 | 21 ratings | 8 reviews | 24% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2014

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Fantasizer! (8:17)
2. Twig (5:39)
3. Freak (7:32)
4. Nomad (7:36)
5. At Odds (4:18)
6. The Anomaly (4:38)
7. Linear Tendency (5:48)
8. Caged Creator (11:32)
9. Solemn (3:16)

Total time 58:36

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Dean Watson / music, arrangements, performance

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Fantasizer!Fantasizer!
CD Baby 2014
Audio CD$11.72
$22.46 (used)
Imposing ElementsImposing Elements
CD Baby 2012
Audio CD$12.55
UnsettledUnsettled
CD Baby 2012
Audio CD$12.54
$11.87 (used)
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DEAN WATSON Fantasizer! ratings distribution


3.99
(21 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(24%)
24%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(57%)
57%
Good, but non-essential (5%)
5%
Collectors/fans only (14%)
14%
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)
0%

DEAN WATSON Fantasizer! reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
5 stars Dean Watson is definitely Canada's best kept secret, a superlative multi-instrumentalist that has chosen to shine in arguably the most technically demanding sub-genre in prog , the jazz-rock fusion department. To master electric guitar with so many role models out there, to manipulate ivories with so many icons, to bass around fluidly among the veteran players and drum like a Cobham/Walden/White and co?. well that is no small feat. Yet, as improbable and rare as that might be, Watson is a one-man show of the very highest caliber. His third album is on the heels of the triumphal 2012 'Imposing Elements', a complete tour de force that caught the prog world off guard and stunned and my review certainly contained enough drool to fil a swimming pool (nice rhyme!- editor) . Once again, influenced by artist Ron Eady's tremendous visualizations, Watson embarks on an orgy of brilliant tracks built on jazz principles but enhanced with typical progressive rock ebb and flows, silky contrasts between gentle and muscular, as well as some stellar soloing on all instruments. In fact, there are times when the listener is literally pulled out of his seat, rendered comfortably numb by some cool cat noodling that suddenly explodes into a near frenzy of shredding notes and blitz beats. Dean Watson may very well be one of the most original and accomplished artists around, certainly worthy of more attention and adulation. But the most obvious upgrade from his two previous works is the meritorious inclusion of the electric piano, an instrument that is to jazz/fusion what the mellotron is to symphonic. Watson colors a lot of the arrangements with pools of liquid ivory, giving the arrangements so much more depth and detail than ever before.

The 8 minute + title track has all the mentioned ingredients, setting quite the mood from the get go, busy bass reveling with swirly determination, a playful keyboard style reminiscent of Chick Corea and some unusually harsh guitar riffs that are closer to an Ian Crichton of Saga fame than to an Al DiMeola. Throw in some opaque mellotron and synths that add bombast and density and you have one fine adventurous introduction to a brilliant album. When the jazzy groove settles in, the shriek lead guitar rant is just outstanding, a classic meeting of prog and fusion that shocks the system and stretches new boundaries.

"Twig" has a sweltering bass shuffle that will bewitch the listener and a mellow mood that cries out atmosphere and cinema soundtrack, a platform for a devilish synth solo, and finally, an organ rumble with a marimba tone that seeks out applause. The piano enters the fray in solemn splendor, sensually deliberate as a brief respite for the bombastic revisit of a glorious theme full of edge and drama.

This leads straight into the highly proggy extravaganza where Watson searches out clearly symphonic attitudes, which is why this stuff is soooooooo utterly cool. "Freak' has a piano mid-section that will test one's level of enjoyment, a deliriously enchanting foray into a world where simplicity and complexity meet and join hands. Keyboard textures rule until Dean finally lets his fiery axe defy restraint and burst out some lava-inflamed leads. This mood bleeds right into the simmering and shimmering "Nomad" , a highlight track in my opinion, full loaded with that magical e-piano I mentioned earlier, conjuring reflective images of sun, sand and oasis. Enormous contrasts in mood and style, I just could not help rekindling images of Santana's monumental classic 'Caravanserai', a valid reference point for this alarmingly fabulous album. The second section is just pure laid-back fusion funk, a blistering foray of resolute coolness, Watson blitzing mightily on his fret board as well as the ivories. I am in awe of such talent.

A couple of shorter bruisers ensue, "At Odds" exalts with some petulant organ displays, definitely a harder edge at play here , with lots of flair and spurting guitar anger, bad ass bass and some serious 'cymbal-itis". Chugga-chugga jazzy explorations that recall the classic 70s fusion greats, all the usual British and American suspects are winked at, which should qualify as the loftiest praise possible. In fact, I would state for the record (pun) that this is among the finest recordings ever produced by the genre, as it grows on you with repeated listens.

The highest point is attained with the stellar "The Anomaly", a phenomenal sympho-jazz anthem, a clever little synthesizer-led ditty which suddenly utters one of the most classic prog riffs ever, I name Larks Tongues in Aspic part 2, and develops a sharp, raunchy and gritty ride, nothing antiseptic or sterile clean, this is oily, messy, dirty stuff that Jeff Beck would be proud of (Is that more praise, ya think?).

The vibrant and bodacious "Linear Tendency" has a closer relationship to Soft Machine or more precisely its legendary off-shoot Isotope, closer to the British jazz-rock school that has produced so many great albums and bands. Once again, the marimba patched organ and synth are sensational aspects of the diversity and technical knowhow discharged by Mr. Watson, a sheer delight to any progressive set of ears.

The marathon piece is the aptly named "Caged Creator", an instrumental homage to a solitary performer 'caged' in some melodious bunker, armed with a plethora of instruments of aural pleasure (I am glad I spelled that correctly!) and inspired to reach new and yet unexplored horizons. This 11 minute monster aptly showcases the tremendous talent and creativity of a well-honed and inspired artist. I am generally very fussy with this genre, as I possess very high expectations for arguably the most technically proficient of any music masters. Watson elongated guitar foray is enough to slay any critic, his playing is brash, attractive and refreshingly invigorating. Loads of piano, febrile bass, slick beat and a wondrous sense of adventure. The arrangement is brimming with flavor, zestily exciting and unpredictable.

This masterpiece is then finalized by a 'roll the credits' au revoir, the imaginative "Solemn" completing the experience to perfect effect. As the title implies, we are sent on our way with serenity and a glorious sense of satisfaction. A delicate piano anthem with echoes of nostalgia, hope and achievement.

Bravo Dean!

5 Fictional Fender Rhodes

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Send comments to tszirmay (BETA) | Report this review (#1199740) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 29, 2014

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy Prog Team
4 stars I don't recall been disappointed with an instrumental progressive rock album. Or maybe it's because I have good taste to pick the best ones? Dean Watson plays all the instruments on this album and with plenty of talents. But I have to say that the technique here is not as important as the atmosphere. There is nice harmony between mood and textures. In fact, it's those different keyboards and guitars textures that seduce me at first listening to this album. Some songs like the title track "Fantasizer", "At Odds" and "Caged Creator" have some infectious grooves. It's really a nice jazz rock fusion release with progressive rock elements sometimes with some heavy guitars in the line of Tony Macalpine. The piano, the keyboards and some of the music are reminiscent of Chick Corea and the other Canadian Nathan Mahl. You can never get bored with the music here, because of the complex arrangements and the rhythm changes. Another nice addition, it's the use of the beautiful vibraphone throughout this release. I just hope that this unknown artist get more recognition in the future with his third album.

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Send comments to rdtprog (BETA) | Report this review (#1230716) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 02, 2014

Review by Gerinski
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Tantalisingly close to 5 stars, this music may be the perfect crossroads for many proggers. You love Jazz-Rock/Fusion but it is sometimes "too jazzy" for you? You love symphonic but it is sometimes "too bombastic"? You love eclectic but it is sometimes "too inconsistent"? You love metal but it is often "too trivial"? And you love instrumental music, with display of virtuosism but without falling into meaningless speed show-offs?

Well, Dean Watson may have a juicy proposal for you. This highly skilled and talented musician and multi-instrumentalist has produced a brilliant one-man effort like few I had heard in recent years.

While the music is clearly Jazz-Rock/Fusion, he covers a very wide spectrum of the genre, from classic JR/F ala CHICK COREA to heavy fusion ala TONY MACALPINE or DEREK SHERINIAN, while occasionally nodding at Symphonic classics such as ELP or UK or Eclectic kings KING CRIMSON.

Watson is so full of ideas but he does not hang on them for too long, no overdone noodling here at all, he changes and breaks continuously before one can get too much of anything, the album is incredibly dynamic switching from slow passages of piano or atmospheric keys to frantic ones with very fast soloing on synth or guitar, continuously. And yet the miracle is that none of those changes feels patchy. Many bands try to combine many ideas but the result seems unconnected, artificially patched. None of this here, the transitions are constant but they feel alright, everything fits.

It also helps that he uses a very wide pallette of keyboard and guitar tones, with lots of e- piano but also strings, percussive Hammond, classic solo synths with lots of great pitch bending, vibraphone and marimba and many more. The guitars are mostly hard-edged in the style of GREG HOWE or MACALPINE but never sounding "heavy metal", they sound great. Odd and complex rhythms abound as well as counterpoints and syncopated notes.

It is clear that Watson's strongest skills are in keyboards and guitars but the bass is also good, and he has done one of the best drum programming works I have ever listened to.

There's not much point in doing a track-by-track review since the whole album follows a consistent philosophy, but if you want to get a feel for the music in just one track listen to the brilliant 11 min+ "Caged Creator".

It's too early to say if this album will stand the test of time for me, and as good as the programmed drums are (I repeat, one of the best I have ever heard), they still lack the dynamics and feel that a great drummer could provide, and drums are a really important instrument to me, so for these reasons I'l stay with 4 stars.

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Send comments to Gerinski (BETA) | Report this review (#1238192) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, August 07, 2014

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars Multi-instrumentalist Dean Watson has released an album bi-annually since 2010 with the debut "Unsettled", and followed up with "Imposing Elements" Both albums fuse jazz rock together with eclectic instrumentals. With Dean at the helm playing all instruments. The third studio release is "Fantasizer!" and again it is a one man show with jazzy instrumentals layered over with keyboards and a dose of lead guitar soloing. The drums are electronic but sound effective enough. The album opens with the title track, with splashes of heavy guitar and meandering keyboards with some fast phrases. At just over 8 minutes it is one of the longest tracks on this release.

'Twig' follows with jumpy time signature and staccato keyboards. The synth solo is frenetic and there are some very accomplished lead guitar solos that trade off. It is very up tempo music and there are some twists along the way leading to a lonely melancholy piano passage.

'Freak' focusses primarily on lead guitar with some incredible tremolo work and speedy fret melting playing. The keys counter balance the mayhem with sustained Mellotron pads. Watson tickles the ivories on an isolated piano, then quiet synths wash over like Summer rain. Some guitar breaks the peace with emotional outbursts, sounding a little like Fripp's style of King Crimson.

'Nomad' is replete with extreme jazzy electric piano as a hi hat percussion splashes. This one has a genuine jazz night club vibe and some wonderful violining guitar and Tron keys. It is even reminiscent of Mahavishnu Orchestra in places, the blend of rock and jazz over a complex metrical pattern. I like how it changes mood with sustained strings and then launches into heavier guitars and happy organ sounds.

'At Odds' returns to the rockier side of the music. The time sig is fractured and the guitars dominate on this track. There is even the unmistakeable feel of ELP's 'Tarkus' in the keyboard phrases and sounds. 'The Anomaly' is a synth driven piece, over a steady tempo and exploratory guitars. One section sounds like the riff of 'Lark's Tongues in Aspic' by THAT band again. I guess Watson is inspired by the masters of jazz fusion, King Crimson, and why not?

'Linear Tendency' has more fast paced sporadic lead guitar playing over a jazzy tempo. 'Caged Creator' is the lengthy 11 and a half minute mini epic of the album, and perhaps the one to hear for those who want an example of Watson's dexterity as a musician. It moves from peaceful keyboards to outlandish guitar soloing, showcasing the virtuosity of Watson and his inventive musicianship. 'Solemn' finishes the album with a short piano jazz solo. Watson plays calmly and beautifully a very soft piano, concluding the album on a tranquil note.

Once again Dean Watson has released a very jazzy and well executed album that crosses over into a range of musical styles. I was not as enamoured with this as "Imposing Elements", but I am still impressed with this one man instrumentalist and how he is able to compose some stunning instrumentals.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#1262413) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, August 29, 2014

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Fantasizer!' - Dean Watson (75/100)

Upon occasion, I'll open up a review of an album by commenting on its artwork, and this is one such case wherein I'll indulge my love of good cover art. Multi-instrumentalist Dean Watson is presented here as were he in the midst of some transcendental metamorphosis, caught in a place where the lines between the real and imagined are blurred. Watching this solo fusioneer develop since his debut Unsettled back in 2010, I've also watched the Ron Eady's art grow along with it, and while its always possessed a sort of dreamlike atmosphere, it's never looked so bold and memorable. There's always been a weight of importance placed on the artwork in a Dean Watson project; the music and art are two sides of a collective experience, and the aim of the music (if I'm not mistaken) is, in part, to creatively interpret the feelings conjured by the art. With that in mind, when I opened my copy of Fantasizer! and found myself instantly struck by the cover, I knew there was a great hour of music lying in wait for me... and I wasn't wrong!

Dean Watson's music has long stood at the crossroads of intensely composition-based prog fusion. While most acts that bear the vague 'fusion' label tend to come across as jazz bands that discovered the virtue of rock rhythms (but still always rooted in jazz custom), Watson fancies himself a fairly impartial arbiter between jazz and rock, to the point where Fantasizer! could be labelled as one or the other without fault. His influences are much less ambiguous however; King Crimson is apparent in the music's rhythmic discipline and cerebral atmosphere. The shifting piano work is quickly redolent of Chick Corea and, depending on the style he's chosen at the time, his guitar work recalls either Pat Metheny or Joe Satriani. Dean Watson's work is eclectic and varied (I even recall progressive metal traces as far back as the debut), but there's a strong sense of style and identity here, something many an artist who dared to merge genres has sadly done without.

First and foremost (and this may be what separates him most from the jazzmen) Dean Watson is a composer. There are many in jazz and fusion that write material as a staging point for improvisation and spontaneity in the performance. Good improvising is a slice of heaven when it's done right, but Watson doesn't leave anything up to chance. Fantasizer! remains a haven for Watson's expert guitar and synth leads, but I don't think there's a single measure of music that was devised accidentally. Fortunately, Dean Watson has once again proven himself to be a master composer with this sort of style. Fantasizer! will shift between heavy and smooth passages with a near-cinematic grace, sometimes giving the impression there's less complexity at work than there really is. Unlike show-y or overtly technical music (an impression Watson's music has since drifted from), Fantasizer! lets the atmosphere and ease of listening through, although you'd be wholly mistaken to assume there isn't calculus spewing forth from the music's solid undercurrents.

Although Dean Watson hasn't demonstrated as much of an improvement in songwriting these past two years as I heard on the excellent second album Imposing Elements, the execution has been polished. This was an issue I've had with Watson's music since the beginning; while the drums are still undeniably programmed (and suffer for it accordingly), there's a livelier tone to the mix. As tends to be the case with prog fusion, Fantasizer! puts the virtues of the intellect before the heart; even so, there are some beautiful sections that switch the emphasis. For a song with a length that begs the 'epic' label, "Caged Creator" is surprisingly smooth for the most part, though it soon builds to a climax worthy of any progger's ears, complete with eerie mellotron warmth, with a melancholic beauty offset only by the twitchy prog freak-out that shortly follows it. "Solemn" is a fitting denouement to the album, a simple piano composition with a tugging sense of longing and melancholy. If Fantasizer! lacks any consistency in its emotional impact, all is well by the album's end.

Fantasizer! is another great chapter in the career of an artist I've been virtually following since day one. To be certain, it hasn't made as much of an impact on me as Imposing Elements, if only because Dean Watson's second album left that much less room for improvement. At the end of the day, many of the feelings (good and bad alike) I had for the first two records have come to bear once again on Fantasizer!. Regardless, whether you're coming from the jazz, prog or instrumental rock spheres, a truly gifted composer is hard to come by. With that in mind, Dean Watson comes recommended to fans of each and any of the three.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#1275889) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, September 13, 2014

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 really

Third album named Fantasizer from 2014 of this excellent multi instrumentalist, is another worthy release in jazz fusion prog realm. I really like all 3 albums released so far with a plus on Imposing elements, to me his best album so far. Here Dean Watson plays all the instruments and I might say that he is pretty good on every instrument, some more then ok passages overall. What I like more is that Watson has many ideas, covering a wide spectrum of genres from jazz fusion a la return To Forever, to more heavier jazz fusion aproach not far from Derek Sherinian solo albums combined in places with more symphonic parts, the result is good for sure, but not so great as on Imposing elements. Twig, Freak or Nomad are definetly highlights with spectacular guitar arrangements and furious keyboards here and there. All in all definetly worth purchase any of his albums, he is one of most talented musicians in last years and he need a wider recognition world wide. I personaly even find this Fantasizer good towards great, my number on album from him remains Imposing elements. Not to forget another intresting art work. 3.5 stars.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#1277937) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Latest members reviews

4 stars "I know, my dear Watson, that you share my love of all that is bizarre and outside the conventions and humdrum routine of everyday life." -- Sherlock Holmes Quote Mr. Dean Watson, likewise, shares a music soundscape outside the conventions and humdrum routine of everyday life. Dean is a one man ... (read more)

Report this review (#1287031) | Posted by buddyblueyes | Friday, October 03, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a nice Jazz-Fusion follow-up to 2012's excellent and accessible Imposing Elements. 1. "Fantasizer!" (8:17) is quite a nice, melodic, multi-instrumental-featuring opener. A little PAT METHENY GROUP feel to it--until the heavier section begins at the 3:25 mark, which becomes more prog-l ... (read more)

Report this review (#1257075) | Posted by BrufordFreak | Saturday, August 23, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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