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Dean Watson - Imposing Elements CD (album) cover


Dean Watson


Jazz Rock/Fusion

4.02 | 144 ratings

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5 stars Dean Watson is a revelation in more ways than one, a rare opportunity to witness a one man fusion entity (you mean you can play all those instruments?.... Like that?) and cluck in amazement. Plus he is a Canadian, go figure! As a rule, I feel more comfortable with bass fueled jazz-rock, so as to follow the groove wherever the artist wishes to lead and get my jollies that way! Good guitar and keys is important but only as long as the bass conductor is willing and able to carve the correct rut.

"Past and Present" has an ominous tone throughout, due to thundering bass lightning, moody mellotron, swirly synths and wired guitar, while the drums keep things tight and taut. A slice of fusion at its best. There is no instrument more associable to fusion than electric piano (Fender Rhodes , for example) and Dean lays down some never before heard e-piano sounds that collide, coalesce and conspire slyly with the remaining instruments in a joyous escapade of style and substance. The use of mellotron is rare in jazz-rock but Watson uses it often and always within context.

"Underpass" is more obviously in a pure jazz form with piano, cymbals and vibraphone merging into a broad avenue of sound, piloted by a sweet synthesizer romp. Harsh rhythm guitar invades with impunity, slashing through the jazz rain forest like a machete in the Burmese heartland.

The spirit of Pierre Moerlen's Gong pervades the next piece "Push Too", as the vibes, synths , bass and drums forge ahead. That being now settled, Watson does a fair interpretation of what Allan Holdsworth would do on such a bed of sounds, basically an oblique and stupendous solo that corkscrews wildly and initiates some serious goosebumps. This is a phenomenal track, highly buzzed and constantly contrasting, alive and kicking.

"Pendulum" swings back and forth (really?) with charming precision, the restraint is laudable and the ensuing guitar solo is simply brilliant, in the true sense of the term. The pace seems endlessly at ease, no hurried need to explode 60 thousand notes in 3 seconds, preferring instead all kinds of little details that prickle the ears, a delicate piano mid section 'par exemple'. Adding a bed of mellotron only proves the genius behind the concept, I had always wondered when someone would think about combining jazz-rock with symphonic. Well here you have it in shining pan audio! Tremendous music!

After such a delightful zephyr of sound, Watson comes back with a scorcher, a heavy metal/fusion power ballad that highlights deep inner turmoil, like submariners being attacked by destroyers. I guess that is why the track is called "Depth Charge"! The main tortured axe solo is what keeps this baby running silent, buoying bass bubbling to the surface, yet with a pervading sense of underwater confinement. Fantastic imagery as the crunching guitars and breakwater synths come howling through the jetty! Prog Das Boot!

"Of Age" is experimental, or just experienced mental, a palette of obscure sounds on an uncomplicated cradle of bass and piano splashes, giving the green light for the guitar to light up again. Half way through, the arrangement shifts into gear, as if some turbo charge had kicked subtly in, mutating the piece with some angrier commentary (electronic synth poundings, unforgiving guitar tone) that just gives so much pace to this music which can easily bog down into chopzilla when left unchecked.

The final blow by blow (sorry Jeff!) is also the lengthiest piece, a sort of recap of what this astounding multi-instrumentalist is capable of. Redolent soundscapes with lush ornamentations abound, stamping his guitar to travel deep into multi-hued frontiers of aural conquest.

To master so many instruments in such a challenging subgenre is proof positive that Dean Watson is a gifted artist of the highest order. It would seem unpatriotic as a progman to not wish him well. The material is well thought out, inspirational jazz-rock fusion with massive doses of originality and impeccable execution. A star is born.

5 daunting factors

tszirmay | 5/5 |


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