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DEAN WATSON

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Canada


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Dean Watson biography
Dean Watson is a Toronto, Canada based multi-instrumentalist who was inspired by his mother at a young age while listening to her playing standards on the piano. Since then he has played everything from country to latin but prefers progressive jazz fusion and started his first progressive rock band, AirKraft, in the late 1970's. He has attained Grade 10 level Royal Conservatory piano in addition to grade 2 music theory and has been actively involved in music education. Along the way he has owned just about every keyboard known to humankind but has sold most of them, retaining only a small subset of his once massive arsenal. Among his varied guitars he also plays his own homebuilt models. In early 2008 he entered into a collaboration with drummer / percussionist extraordinaire Barry Connors ( Coney Hatch, Lee Aaron ) with whom he had played with in AirKraft. Together they formed a crazed progressive fusion jazz experiment that also gave nods to 70s progrock called Where's The Nine ( see separate PA entry ) and released a CD appropriately titled " Desensitized To Insanity " on the Toronto based Cyclone Records label that also includes other noted Canadian artists on their roster such as Steve Negus ( ex- Saga ) and Holly Woods formerly of the prog / pop band Toronto.

Dean's most recent project, " Unsettled ", is another collaboration but with a different approach. Again drawing musical inspirations from 70s fusion jazz and progrock, this time he imagined his music from a single painting by prolific Canadian artist / sculptor Ron Eady entitled " Unsettled". Eady's unpredictable work has appeared internationally in exhibitions, publications as well as in various public and private collections. Watson's musical interpretations and concepts were spawned by hours of staring at the haunting expressionist-like work and the result, although not as inflamed as the Where's The Nine project, it is nonetheless technically out of this world with Watson handling all instrumentation ( keyboards, guitars, drums, percussion, et al) , recording, mixing and mastering.

Slated for release sometime in the second half of 2010 '' Unsettled " holds appeal for all those who miss the fusion jazz and progrock of the glorious seventies and can be heard in it's entirety on Dean Watson's myspace linked below. In the meantime another Dean Watson concoction is in the works based on another enigmatic Ron Eady painting yet to be disclosed. .

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Imposing ElementsImposing Elements
CD Baby 2012
Audio CD$13.41
UnsettledUnsettled
CD Baby 2012
Audio CD$13.36
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DEAN WATSON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.79 | 47 ratings
Unsettled
2010
4.00 | 120 ratings
Imposing Elements
2012
4.87 | 4 ratings
Fantasizer!
2014

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DEAN WATSON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Fantasizer! by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2014
4.87 | 4 ratings

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Fantasizer!
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

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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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 120 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars On Imposing Elements multi-instrumentalist Dean Watson brings back fusion as though it had never left us! Updating the stylistic approach of 1970s fusioneers with fresh compositions, modern equipment, and a dazzling range of different moods from the intense to the whimsical (there's a "meowing cat" effect at parts on 16 Feet Below which is quite fun), it's like the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Caravan and mid-1970s King Crimson got together to jam.

Apparently, Dean gets the inspiration for his albums from the artwork of his collaborator Ron Eady, and here Watson certainly captures the unnerving atmosphere of the industrial landscape Eady has captured on the cover but also the sunniness of that charming blue sky up the top there. Fusion fans take note: one of the best practitioners of the form we have today is selling his work on Bandcamp for an absolute steal.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 120 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by ProgShine
Collaborator Errors & Omissions and Crossover Team

3 stars This Dean Watson album, Imposing Elements (2012) is a weird one to me.

The album itself is an instrumental effort, and usually, instrumental music doesn't have any appeal to me. But here on this album we have some strong compositions.

Anyway, even if it's a strong album it doesn't go beyond the realms of the averageness. It doesn't really go anywhere. I like the Jazz Rock feel you have on the album, but for my personal taste the album doesn't go that far away to be called a masterpiece as many here are claiming.

Imposing Elements (2012) is a good album with Jazz Rock feeling and it's nice to hear it, but after some time, nothing really stands out here.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 120 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by BrufordFreak

4 stars Wonderful music, full of beautiful melodies and catchy hooks, twists and turns, from this talented multi-instrumentalist. I think what brings me in the most about this album is the way that it deftly crosses and fuses the prog/jazz line. What turns me slightly off is the not quite top-notch engineering, mixing, and production. There is a kind of lack of bleed and background with regards to shifts and changes within songs that, to me, denotes multi-track single artist. There are several artists out there right now doing self-produced self-performed multi-instrumental music (Trurl, David Minasian, The Psychedelic Ensemble, Domina Catrina Lee, Stephen Desbiens, and Pat Metheny and Steven Wilson, [kind of], come to mind immediately) . Dean is good but not yet great on the production side of things. A really excellent listen, start to finish, so long as you don't put the headphones on and give it your 100%.

Favorite songs: "Past Present" (6:47) (9/10); Pendulum" (6:31) (8/10), and; "New Resolution" (8:38) (8/10).

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 120 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Imposing Elements" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Canadian jazz/fusion artist Dean Watson. The album is a self-released affair, created, produced and mastered by Dean Watson. "Imposing Elements" is a music/art collaboration between Dean Watson and artist Ron Eady. The latter´s painting (which has the same title as the album and has inspired Dean Watson to write the music) graces the album cover. This method was also the case with "Unsettled (2010)", which also features a cover artwork with a painting by Ron Eady.

The music on the album is what I´d call adventurous jazz/fusion with edgy rythm work and keyboards and guitars providing lead themes and solos. Dean Watson is a regular one-man army delivering tight performances on all instruments. The music can be both dark and atmospheric (at times even ambient) and more edgy and powerful too (there are even some chunky metallic sounding riffs on the album although they are not dominant). One of the great assets of the music (at least to my ears) are the memorable themes. While there are plenty of soloing for those who enjoy that, the fact that Watson always returns to something relatively hook laden is something I much appreciate. I think the music on "Imposing Elements" features a good balance between accessibility and challenging it´s audience.

"Imposing Elements" is another great release by Dean Watson and while there are a few sections I find a bit too "new age" sounding for my personal taste, the album overall comes off very intriguing. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is warranted.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 120 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Imposing Elements' - Dean Watson (8/10)

A couple of years ago, I was introduced to the music of Dean Watson through a promo of his debut, the impressive 'Unsettled'. Although the jazzier side of progressive rock had rarely been something I was really engaged with, there was something about Dean's highly composition-based style of jazz guitar that kept me coming back to 'Unsettled', an album I still think upon fondly today. Although there may have been scarcely a sound out of media in anticipation for Dean Watson's second record, it was something I was quite excited for. As a successful sophomore is prone to do, his 2012 effort 'Imposing Elements' develops upon the themes offered by the debut, fleshing out the ambition and providing an even more stirring experience than the first. Dean Watson has fashioned another highly emotional and captivating piece of music with 'Imposing Elements'.

For the many who may not have yet heard Dean Watson's music, the 'prog fusion' label his work has received does it a fundamental justice, although it does not get across the sort of dreamlike emotions his music is filled with. Dean is a guitarist first and foremost, and it may not be out of place to liken him to a more composition-oriented Joe Satriani, or Steve Vai-type player. I have rarely personally been a fan of the 'guitar virtuoso' albums, often finding them to be expressions of the artist's ego rather than their soul. It's refreshing that Watson is such a laid player, only occasionally letting his guitar rip through the rest of the sound, but most often sitting back while the rest of his instrumentation does the work.

Composition really is the heart, soul, blood, liver, and gastrointestinal tract of 'Imposing Elements'. The song structures have a preference for exploring many different ideas in a single song, but very little in a given composition feels as if it could be rightfully amputated from the rest. Whether Dean Watson is leading the music through his guitar or synthesizer, the melodies are each unique and powerful, even sounding a tad weird over the jazzy chord structures. The greatest evidence to Watson's excellence as a composer is that each song manages to sound unique from the others, each leaving its own impression on the listener before it's done. '16 Feet Below' is a particularly engaging track, opening with an only slightly unsettling jazz line before diving into a darkly surreal mesh of melodic tenderness and King Crimson-like dissonance. 'Of Age' is another of my favourite cuts from the record, fusing progressive metal with some of his most beautiful guitar leads.

Dean Watson is a master of rock composition with 'Imposing Elements', although- as was also true for the debut- the execution is not quite as brilliant. As a musician, Watson is a fantastic guitarist with a real ear for merging melody and technical flair effortlessly. The piano and synth tracks are also executed admirably. The rest of the sound however- with particular regards to the programmed drums- sounds like a backing track that you might find in a guitar exercise booklet. For such inspiring writing, it feels like something of a letdown to hear the dull thud of a drum machine, convenience and budgetary concerns regardless. To his credit, the drum machine is programmed very well, with plenty of intriguing switches and fills to lift it above mere pacemaking duty. Even so, Watson bears the brunt of the natural setbacks of home recording; the sound feels inconsistent and dulled in parts, although Dean cannot be held to blame for this.

As I was expecting, 'Imposing Elements' is an impressive album that finds an easy recommendation from me to fans of instrumental rock. Although a few unfortunate limitations keep the album from resonating as an 'essential' prog fusion album, Watson's talent for composition is nothing short of excellent. 'Imposing Elements' overshadows his previous work with 'Unsettled', and rightfully takes its place as one of the most acclaimed progressive releases of the year.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 120 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by progrules
Prog Reviewer

5 stars It's not my prerogative to start my reviews with a title but if I would have done that with this album it would have been "perfect fusion" or something like that. Because that's what we are talking about with Dean Watsons second release. Right now the album has the status of "essential: masterpiece of progressive rock" and quite rightly so I would say. After first listening I was already convinced of a rating minimal 4,5 stars but after 5 spins it has even gone up towards 4,5-5 indeed some 4,75.

Dean has increased the measure of fusion grade compared with his debut and is now on the same level as with his previous project WHERE'S THE NINE. In fact this release is largely comparable with Desensitized... with the remark that Imposing Elements is more accessible. And added to that one could say that the accessibility shouldn't be confused with simplicity here because the compositions are complex enough but somehow they are so neately done that it becomes extremely pleasant for the ear. Composition to perfection is another title that comes to mind for this album.

My admiration for Dean's accomplishments were already very high but of his efforts last few years I rank this one highest, by far even. Desensitized was already around the 4,5 mark and Unsettled somewhere around 4,25-4,5 stars for me. I don't know how he does it but he managed to turn it up a notch with Imposing Elements which can only mean the perfect score as far as I'm concerned. I'm getting curious what his next release will be like. Beware !

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 120 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by jampa17
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Amazing, just amazing...

This album made the same impression for me as the last one. It's just unbelievable that a single musician can play that many instruments as good as him, and do it with taste, sense, and soul. Just like the first, this is a flawless album with all the elements to be tasted by jazz, prog metal and regular music fans.

Dean Watson has amazing skills, but also infuse magic into his compositions. When you stare at the painting that inspired the music, you could hardly come with that much amount of ideas, all well balanced with beautiful melodies, great riffs, wonderful drums and some interesting bass lines. Really, it all sounds like a complete band with many years of understanding.

You have to close eyes and enjoy this musical ride. I won't describe each song. You have to listen to it as a whole piece and just taste the music. The mix and production is wonderful. This is how all the albums should sound, with space for every instrument to develop a feeling. It's just perfect

I give a 5 star review because I don't find anything weak to point at. I really hope that all the lovers of Jazz fusion and prog metal fans could come with open mind and try this amazing album. This one will blow your mind away for sure.

I'm really excited by this album. He really reach magic with these Imposing Elements...

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 120 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

4 stars In one word: Flawless

With second album named Imposing elements released couple of month before in february 2012 - Dean Watson really done it big time. If the first album was great, this sophomore release is flawless in everyway. This is one of the best musicians in last years in jazz fusion world, what he done on these two albums released so far is absolutly essential to have, both fans of jazz fusion and progressive rock will have plenty of memorable passages here. I thing that must be pointed aut is that all the music from Imposing elements was created/produced/mastered by Dean Watson himself, this is not an easy task, but in the end he succeded 100%. Complex progressive jazz fusion with some spectacular moments like on opening track Past present who really sets the mood for entire album. Another highlight for me is Feet below with some brilliant chorus at the end of the piece, fantastic and the more progressive jazz metal tune Of Age with some progressive metal mood but combined very efficient with the jazz fusion elements, in the end a spectacular piece. No weak moments here only highlights, balanced album, DEan Watson really shine on every piece. I don't know if is better then his first who was already a great release, but for sure is in same league, that means in Premier League for sure. 4 stars easy and recommended one of the better albums in last years in this field. This type of jazz fusion is right down on my alley and for that I can only recommend to get it from cdbaby in digital format, no CD this time.

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 Imposing Elements by WATSON, DEAN album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.00 | 120 ratings

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Imposing Elements
Dean Watson Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Vibrationbaby

4 stars Instrumental concept pieces are nothing new. From Gustav Holst to Chick Corea composers / musicians have endeavoured to express their thoughts and visions through the medium of musical language. Dean Watson's latest " Imposing Elements " CD is a bit more abstract. It incontrovertably requires some outside of the box imagination in order to fully appreciate his attempt to interpret, musically, a singular piece of artwork by contemporary artist Ron Eady. Watson faces a daunting gauntlet of challenge here ; making a lot out of a little just as he did with his previous " Unsettled " album, another Eady / Watson collaboration. If the album cover featuring Ead'y's intimidating industrial-like image didn't have "Dean Watson Imposing Elements " written on it one might be decieved into thinking that this was the latest release from Rammstein or Nine Inch Nails.

But for those familiar with Watson's previous works will know that it is time to strap into the ejection seat for another fusion roller coaster ride. Again, Watson plays everything masterfully with emphasis on different combinations of keyboards that seem to be his weapons of choice. It can sound a bit clinical at times but Watson's bass work adds warmth and depth. He knows when it is not required and sometimes will substite lower end piano keys when he feels it is more appropriate. Watson reveals many of his influences throughout the work as well ( he's been at this for almost 40 years! ) and the most obvious ones I could pick out were McLaughlin, Metheny, Floyd and Miles amongst others. The drumwork is a frankenstein cross between Cobham and Bruford and like everything else is razor sharp in execution. Like the previous " Unsettled " I can't help but thinking of Bruford's 1979 " One Of A Kind " album especially on the final track New Resolution where breifly, unless my ears are playing tricks on me, the ghost of Oscar Peterson shows up! While I might be clutching at straws with these correlations, in the end it's Watson all the way with his unique interpretive powers.

Perhaps being a vestige of the 1970s and prior, I am probably tending to surgically deconstruct the work more than I should but everything works as a whole here. The fact that Watson does everything himself adds another dimension to the work. It seems like a constant rearrangement of ideas based on the painting until everything fits. He doesn't have the competition of other musicians or an engineer bickering over chords, key changes, time signatures etc. I might add that the production is impeccable as well. I recently reviewed an otherwise excellent album that was produced by seasoned professionals and it was as if the bass wasn't even there at times much to the chagrin of the band. Everything is in perfect balance here and Watson doesn't go off the deep end anywhere and even manages some brave speed guitar runs.

A very unique concept album of well thought out collection of alternate ( musical ) interpretations of a trancendental painting that each have their individual arrangements, moods and dynamics. Even if one wants to discard it's metaphysical aspects "Imposing Elements " is another fusion delight that invites multiple listens on the headphones.

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