What a lovely surprise, Kit Watkins contacting me if I was interested in reviewing his new “Field of View” album. He has always been one of my favorite keyboard players and ambient composers. After a long career in the field of Ambient and Electronic soundscapes it became quiet after his “SkyZone” album from 2006. In 2007 he released all of his output in mp3 format on a DVD-DATA disc. And that seemed to be the end of his musical career. Of course his roots lies in the Progressive scene with his band Happy The Man and his contribution to albums and tours of Camel. But with the release of more than 25 albums his main body of work lies in the field of Ambient music ( “Field of View” is album number 30). After 8 years of silence Kit released in the year 2015 two more ambient oriented albums, “Land” and “Mockingbird Mantras”. The later was an album with one long track of environment recordings of mockingbird songs accompanied by soundscapes. Somehow I missed those two releases and I am thankful that Kit helped me to get my Kit Watkins discography complete. And now there is a new album under the name “Field of View”. An album with contributions of Forrest Young, Bill Smith and Greg Moreau.
Kit Watkins - vocals, keys, bass, wind synthesizer, percussion
Forrest Young - drums & percussion (tracks 1,3,5.6.7) Bill Smith - assorted percussion (tracks 2,4) Greg Moreau - ebow guitar (track 4)
As it is a big surprise to review a new Kit Watkins album, it was even a bigger surprise to see that the album opener is a beautiful cover of the Peter Bardens (Moonmadness - Camel) track “Spirit of the Water”. This because I know that Kit at one point didn’t wanted to be associated with Progressive Rock anymore. That was understandable because he was always linked to his Camel and Happy The Man days at the time he was trying to build up a solo career in the fields of electronic and ambient music. At that time I had to convince him to do an interview for progVisions. In my opinion also his ambient work was and is groundbreaking and therefore also progressive. This said his version of “Spirit of the Water” is a wonderful and beautiful performance. Made with a lot of respect to the late Peter Bardens. This amazing performance keeps another surprise, Kit is responsible for the vocals. He is doing a wonderful job here. This delicate song fits seamlessly with the other songs of this album. Especially with the next song “Legato Paramecium”. Some keyboard sounds on this track reminds me of Kit’s first two solo albums. The beautiful “Labyrinth” and “Frames Of Minds” albums. Beautiful and relaxed atmospheres with wordless vocals. This is followed by the beautiful “Life After Truth”. The atmosphere of this piece reminds of heyday of the Pat Metheny Group. The time when Brazilian singer Pedro Aznar was in that band. He also was using his voice as an instrument and didn’t needed lyrics. What a lovely song this is. With almost 10 minutes the following song “Paradoxicon” is together with “To Love Their Servitude” and title track “Field of View” one of the three longer tracks of this album. The atmosphere is a little bit comparable with “Legato Paramecium” but it has also those beautiful, spacious and broad layers of keyboard orchestrations and a lot of percussion. It has also some jazzy rhythms. Listening to this album I get the impression that we musically are following the solo career of Kit Watkins. The atmosphere stays relaxed with the song “The Vessel Ruse”. The contributions of the guests are always menial to the compositions. “To Love Their Servitude” is with 10:13 minutes the longest track. Kit uses some sound samples of spoken voice and animal sounds in this song which is in my humble opinion maybe slightly on the long side. The album ends in style with the title track “Field Of View”. A typical Kit Watkins track which ends with environmental sounds of bird calls in the forest. This reinforces my feeling of Kit Watkins displaying all the elements of his solo career so far on this album. Hopefully this album will be the first step of a continuing musical career.
The admirable thing of Kit Watkins his music is that you will immediately know that you are listening to the music of Kit Watkins. His music has unique sounds and atmospheres. There is only one Kit Watkins and he is back where he belongs. Providing us music lovers with unique quality music which has often a dreamy and calming atmosphere. With a duration of 46:46 the album is on the short side. On the other side this is an angelic number ... but that is another story. For all the Kit Watkins fans and lovers of Ambient oriented music in general this “Field Of View album is a must buy.