Kit Watkins — Field of View
((Not on label) no#, 2019, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2019-07-30
It’s always good news whenever Kit Watkins releases new music, and for me, being unaware of his two 2015 releases, the last one I heard was Sky Zone from 2006. When one listens to the seven cuts here the music unmistakably has Watkins’ signature all over it, both in composition, arrangements, and performance — there is really nodody else who sounds like him. The biggest news regarding Field of View is that Kit is using his voice far more more than almost any of his previous releases, although with the exception of the opener “Spirit of the Water” (a cover of the Camel tune from Moonmadness), most of the vocals here are wordless extensions of his instrumental palette, mostly keyboards, wind synthesizer, and percussion. He is joined by various drummers and percussionists (Forrest Young or Bill Smith, track depending) and one cut (“Paradoxicon”) features Greg Moreau on ebow guitar. One might recall that the Camel version of that opening track sounds like the vocals were routed through Leslie speakers, giving it a very alien and distant sound; on the version at hand, Watkins’ voice is strong and completely untreated, yet still has that haunting mysteriousness that made it so special to begin with. Another haunting track here that will follow the listener around all day and night is “The Vessel Ruse,” a six chord sequence that stops and goes, highlighted by a strong bass undercurrent and percussion punctuated with colorful melodic sprites. The ten-minute “To Love Their Servitude” is reminiscent of some of the material from his Azure period, though some tuned mallet percussion (via synths I’m sure) is spread throughout the piece as well as some sampled spoken voice bits toward the end that elaborate on the title if one listens closely. A bit closer to heaven is “Life after Truth,” where Watkins’ wordless voices take center stage, certainly unlike anything he has done previously, though still bearing his imaginative compositional style. The title track closes the set, a dreamy and magical space where pillowy wind-synths criss-cross with voices and a piano undercurrent shifting from place to place, at times seeming restless, and calming in others. Overall, Field of View is a fine return to classic form with enough new elements in the mix to make it a sizable step forward.
Related artist(s): Kit Watkins
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