Exposé Online banner

Ken Watson — Assembly
(Kinesis KDCD 1010, 1985/1994, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-05-01

Assembly Cover artOriginally released independently in 1985, Watson's home-brew project has stood the test of time: until this CD came out, that vinyl release with its low-budget black and white cover would find its way onto my turntable at least once a month for a refresher, I even bought a spare copy for the day I wore my original out. Now with this CD release, that day won't be arriving. This is smokin' hot, folks - the kind of music they don't make much of anymore; in it one can hear elements of fusion, the ECM sound, progressive rock, and funk. Watson plays guitar, keyboards and percussion, with Dave Webb adding drums (Craig Riches on the bonus tracks), and other guests adding occasional bass, piano and keys. As a guitarist, he might fall somewhere between Goodsall and Steve Morse, but in fact Watson (and this album) reminds me more of another equally obscure American guitarist, Tony Palkovic, than either of the aforementioned two. Compositionally, this is rich, full of drama and emotion, with plenty of stylistic flair. The album begins in a more or less fusion style ("Skeletons in Armor") and quickly builds upon this ("Next X"), adding more depth of style, culminating with the five-part title track, full of fury and unexpected changes. Then all changes with "Yuppie Jazz," a totally programmed synth track written by engineer Terry Morgan, save the drums added by Webb and a bit of Watson's guitarwork at the end. Things then get back on track and we continue the ascension into what may be the best two tracks: "Beating Swords into Plowshares" and "Elroy's Poem," two prog-rock opuses with strong fusion overtones. These two tracks alone are worth the cost of the disc. And here is where my vinyl copy ends... and the twenty minutes of CD bonus material begins! Three additional tracks recorded between 1988 and '93, that further develop and expand upon the styles from the album proper, with even greater instrumental and compositional variety. These are a real treat, especially the eleven minute "Next X, Part Two"! My only complaint is the botched indexing - "Assembly Part 1" starts at 5:40 in the middle of track 2 ("Next X"), and track 3, which should be "Assembly Parts 1-5" is actually only parts 2-5. But if you play the album straight through you'd never know the difference.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 3, 1994 releases, 1985 recordings

Related artist(s): Ken Watson

Latest news

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Big Big Train - The Difference Machine – Over the years, UK proggers Big Big Train have been migrating their sound from the Genesis-ish fare served up on early records like 1994's Goodbye to the Age of Steam to a more modern approach...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues