The coming months I will update you about the new works of multi-instrumentalist Kit Watkins. This month we start with the review of his “new” progressive album “Flying petals”. Other new works are his ambient CD’s “This time and space” and “Unraveled”. Also the new album of his Tone Ghost Ether project (together with John Tlusty and Brad Allen) deserves some attention on progVisions. The TGE project is interesting because all of the music by Tone Ghost Ether is improvised and played in real-time without overdubs. But first we have a look at “Flying petals”.
Kit Watkins – keyboards and modules, sampler, slide and ebow guitars, fretless bass, vocals, drum pads, drum programming, live and sampled drums/percussion, virtual acoustic synthesizer (emulating guitars, saxes, trumpets, percussion, electronics, hybrids), waterphone and other acoustic gems, audio conjecture, engineering, editing and production; Amir Baghiri – synthesizer kalimba on “Time can talk”.
A new progressive album by Kit Watkins? To be honest with you, I couldn’t believe that. Kit Watkins is nowadays a respected composer of mainly ambient works. When you know that this long CD (77 minutes) includes music written and recorded from 1995-2004 it’s more understandable. Kit made a nice collection of his more rhythmic works that he recorded over the last ten years and which didn’t fit on his other albums. But this good album it is NOT an album with leftovers!
The first part of the album with the tracks “Signals in”, “Flying petals”, Time can talk” and “Neptune Goddess” is very strong and gives you not only flashing memories of albums like “Labyrinth” and “Frames of mind” (the album with Brad Allen which is also re-released this year) but also take you back to his Happy the Man period. Especially “Flying petals” is a feast of recognition for Watkins fans of his previous non-ambient work. It seems that all Watkins music includes a special time-marking. That is because Watkins has an urge for innovation. So in his quest for new sounds he provides his compositions with a time-marking. Maybe because my first Kit Watkins album (LP!) was “Labyrinth” I love “Flying petals” and “Neptune goddess” so much.
For “Bowels of the agency (Bush lied mix)” he manipulated voices which are originally from the Robert Greenwald documentary “UNCOVERED: the whole truth about the Iraq war” and made use of some great ambient guitar loops of David Torn. The composition also contains a lot of percussive sounds and ethnic instrumentation and therefore reminds me of the work of Peter Gabriel. I will not say anything about political issues on progVisions, but it is good to notice that there are also Americans who don’t believe everything what they have been told. “Todi K” has some Arabic influences and could have been a Dead Can Dance track (did you find that Lisa Gerrard album, Kit?). In the percussive and groovy track “Dragon breath” Kit evokes images of the rainforest by using all kind of bird call samples (from a Steve Reid sampling CD). “Loganut” is also full with percussion and the emulated trumpet sounds gives the composition also a jazzy touch. The next track “When flight paths emerge” combines the ethnic instrumentation (like in Peter Gabriel’s masterwork “Passion”) with the ambient soundscapes. I have my doubts if progfans will appreciate the very percussive track “Savannah 13”. “Call of the Z’Antuu” opens with a beautiful melody on piano but soon develops into a track full of rhythms. In “Mood swang (code mix)” the spacey keyboards and synthesizer melodies are layered on top of rhythm loops. The first short track of the album is called “Signals in” so it’s logical that this CD ends with “Signals out”. Both are little atmospheric soundscapes. The ending of “Signals out” reminds me of the part of the soundtrack you hear when you watch the credit titles of the movie “Solaris”. I don’t know why this crossed my mind but I’m sure Kit could write a great soundtrack for a science fiction movie.
If you don’t count the four Tone Ghost Ether CD’s this is already Kit’s twentieth solo album. The album makes a kind of bridge between his early works (listen to “Flying petals”, “Time can talk” and “Neptune goddess”) and his later work. But on this CD you mainly find the more rhythmic material. Because of the ethic instrumentation this CD could also be interesting for world-fusion lovers. Hopefully this album will motivate more progressive lovers to listen also to his ambient work. There is a whole new world to discover for those progfans. To be continued …