The Owl Watches — Tales from the Inflatable Forest
(OWL CD 0001, 2002, CD)
by Jeff Melton, Published 2005-09-01Multi-instrumentalist Phil McKenna is The Owl Watches. This is his first sometimes meandering solo endeavor by a composer who has proactively adopted the "do it yourself at home" option to recording. He is also is a clever drum programmer too, as his percussive approaches to heavier sections of his pieces are more assertive and inspired than other demo projects I’m familiar with. McKenna relies on pastoral tones within delicate arrangements that reflect traditional progressive rock instrumentation spaced with piano jazz interludes (as heard in the midsection of the opening title cut). The “fake” Mellotron is quite successful too, especially during the heavier King Crimson/Hackett closing part of the piece. Overall the guitarist’s songwriting structure appears uneven at the outset although many of his ideas are well played. “There Ain’t No Such Thing as Spooks” is another representative piece and it begins in a lurking mode which is surprisingly quite good. The lumbering bass line reminds me of John Wetton’s old fuzz bass lines in particular. Track three, “Perfect Picture in Reverse,” is nearly a high-speed chase with the composer’s organ and spirited drumming laying a good foundation for a convincing lead guitar break. The uncertain middle piano section forms a needed tempo drop from the beginning part of the song too. The closing piece, “And That’s All He Wrote,” is a grand final statement from the composer that could have been condensed a bit before the final theme is introduced. In summary I’d say that McKenna is a composer in search of a band and/or collaborators to flesh out his well above average concepts and ideas.
Related artist(s): The Owl Watches
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more