Exposé Online banner

Kit Watkins — Azure
(East Side Digital esd 80242, 1989, CD)

Kit Watkins & Coco Roussel — In Time
(Linden Music LM 2016, 1985/1995, CD)

Kit Watkins — Sunstruck
(Linden Music LM 2018, 1990/1994, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-10-01

Azure Cover artIn Time Cover artSunstruck Cover art

Everyone should at least be aware of who Kit Watkins is. His first gig was keyboardist with the acclaimed Happy the Man, who released two outstanding albums in the late 70s, for which Kit penned more than his share of tunes. Next stop was Camel, playing on the I Can See Your House from Here album, and following that with a couple tours. In between tours with Camel he was busy cooking up some great solo albums for his own independent Azimuth label, as well as the third HTM album which never received a proper release in its day.

The last release on Azimuth was In Time, with former Happy the Man drummer Coco Roussel in 1985. A spirited and energetic collection of tunes penned by both, it packed both power and brilliance. Using mostly electronic keyboards and electronic and acoustic percussion with then-state-of-the-art MIDI equipment, it sounds as fresh today as it did a decade ago. "Smart" offers that same musical humor that made the early HtM material so special. "7/8 Segue" and "Rumble at the Ruins" both drive from the percussive angle, complex and compelling. "Over the Andes" and "Forte" combine melodics and refinement with the power of progressive rock. When ESD did the original CD reissue around '87, three bonus tracks were added, and remain here on this latest edition, including "Bob's Tune," a lively fantasia with animated rhythm.

After a seemingly long hiatus, Kit returned in '89 with Azure, a mostly low-key effort with impressionistic tendencies, but herein lies its power and beauty — I recall not caring for the album at all on first listen, and then having it grow on me slowly, first one tune, then another, revealing itself slowly, reaching into my soul. Today I feel it may be one of his finest efforts. The haunting "Ursa Major" paints a colorful and angular melody over an ethereal dreamscape of intense depth. Two cover tunes, "I Remember Me" (Jan Hammer) and "Nairam" (Philippe Catherine), both add a whole new sense of direction to the originals. "Innocent Adventure" is complex yet gentle, as waves of tonal color ebb and flow over completely unpredictable rhythms.

Sunstruck was the 1990 follow-up to Azure, and is a mixed bag overall, some lively, some low key, and four lengthy tunes in the ten-plus minute range. There are some brilliant moments here, including the mildly menacing "Heavy Water," and "Moon Watching Me" — a gentle melodic piece that may remind of Pat Metheny's First Circle period. "Mirage" and "Canopy" offer a heaping helping of the type of impressionism that worked so well on Azure. But a few of the tunes here seem a bit overprogrammed and poppy/new-agey, without the benefit of life or emotion — among these the album opener "Solar Gain" and its follow-on "Capricious Skies." Overall a good, albeit slightly uneven album, the best material more than making up for the few duff tracks. Musically these are identical to the previous ESD releases (no remix or remaster). The new booklet for Azure no longer contains the technical and background information on each track, but all have been dressed up with new improved artwork, and given a new lease on life.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 5, 1989 releases, 1995 releases, 1985 recordings, 1994 releases, 1990 recordings

Related artist(s): Coco Roussel, Kit Watkins

Latest news

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ruins - Graviyaunosch – Ruins is a contemporary Japanese band that represents the harsh, aggressive side of zeuhl music. They are compared equally often with Magma and the hardcore band The Boredomes - that should give you...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues