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Dean Watson - Unsettled CD (album) cover

UNSETTLED

Dean Watson

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.82 | 52 ratings

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AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
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.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 4/5 |

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