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progVisions

progVisions is a progressive rock e-zine, published in English and made by an international group of members. Our objective is to become a centre of information that contributes to the knowledge, growth and development of progressive rock.

album reviews

album review

Kit Watkins - This Time and Space & Unraveled - 2003
This Time and Space   Unraveled

“The healing music of Kit Watkins”

Never make a promise to the readers of your reviews. In July I wrote a review about the “Flying Petals” album of Kit Watkins. In the introductory remarks I promised you more reviews of the work of Kit Watkins in the months to come. But I got overstrained and wasn’t able to write reviews or update the webpage. Life is full of surprises and in the past months I had to learn again to listen to music. No King Crimson at that time, but a lot of Chris Botti and the ambient works of Kit Watkins. “This Time and Space” had a role in my healing process. Music has always been very important to me and often I had the feeling that I survived only because of music. And now I know for sure that music can heal. Kit Watkins album “This Time and Space” and Chris Botti’s album “Slowing down the world” will always have a special place in my heart.

Kit Watkins – synthesizers, electronic wind instrument, and looping devices.

In the year 2003 Kit Watkins recorded two albums with ambient music. The first one has the title “Unraveled” and Kit told me that “Unraveled” is all samples or excerpts of Ravel orchestral works that have been manipulated and reconstructed. The title “Unraveled” is a play on words since it contains Ravel's name, but it also has to do with the idea of the music having been manipulated or unraveled in a sense. The other meaning to the title is that the world has become unraveled. The cover tells us that the “sonic constructions and manipulations were created in February 2003, one month before the disastrous U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq”. Also it says “support the troops … bring them home”. So you can imagine that the three compositions on this album are not bright and sunny but instead have a dark and menacing atmosphere.

All compositions have French titles “L’Océan” (10:14), “Au Bois Dormant” (10:01) and “Le Petit Wave” (9:56). The titles are fragments of the original Ravel titles from the respective works from whence the music was "lifted." Another reason for using French titles for the tracks is because the U.S. right wingers have been bashing France ever since the beginning of the war. They even renamed French Fries to Freedom Fries. So this is a political statement of Kit such as the poem he wrote about Bush:


Le Dictateur

It became apparent that, after the catastrophe,
The king could use this event to his advantage

Suddenly, his popularity rose out of the ashes
And he was given great authority to build an empire

He created vast caverns of delusion within his mind
Pumping iron over the flesh and blood of innocents

He amassed great wealth in the service of duty to
The powerful neocons holding his puppet strings

But all the gold and riches could not
Protect him from the truth of his tyranny

And he fell back into the ashes

defeated …
cursed …
unraveled …

by the laws of nature

[used with permission of Kit Watkins]

“L’Océan” has the slow rhythm of the waves from a calm sea. It has a broody atmosphere and it is not suitable for depressed people. The next track “Au Bois Dormant” has beautiful string sounds and it seems to me that Kit’s love for classical music has been assimilated in this piece. “Le Petit Wave” is an ambient soundscape which reflects images of rippling water or gives the idea that you are floating true space. The three ambient pieces represent aspects of hope and despair.

“This Time and Space” is a collection of ambient and spacemusic compositions. Each piece is an improvisation created on the spot in his live performance studio. On this album Kit uses an electronic wind instrument. This is why the album is somewhat reminiscent of Kit’s “Music for the end” improvisation. An album that I reviewed together with his “The Gathering Set 1 and Set 2” albums. “This Time and Space” includes the following tracks; “Tranquility”, “Sacred Honour”, “Reflectivity”, “This Bliss”, “This Time and Space”, “Circumference of One” and “Finally Touched”. I will not repeat myself by reviewing each track. The first four tracks are the ambient pieces with the wind instrument. Kit creates first a basic layer with his synthesizers and looping devices. Then he plays his beautiful melodies with an electronic wind instrument on top of that layer. I love those electronic wind instruments because you can hear the emotions of the player in the music. The last three tracks are the spacemusic pieces. On those tracks you can float away into space or visit the dream-landscapes you always wanted to visit. All the music is delicate and full with beautiful melodies.

If you like the earlier mentioned “The Gathering” and “Music for the End” albums you can safely buy this album too. You will not regret this. Personally I would prefer “This Time and Space” above “Unraveled”. But this is only because the latter is shorter and darker in atmosphere. But if you are a fan of Kit Watkins you must buy both albums. His music is unique and nowhere will you find electronic music with so much warmth, passion and emotion.

Douwe Fledderus - December 2004
rating - Independent Release

 

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