Exposé Online banner

The Owl Watches — Tales from the Inflatable Forest
(OWL CD 0001, 2002, CD)

by Jeff Melton, Published 2005-09-01

Tales from the Inflatable Forest Cover artMulti-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.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 32, 2002 releases

Related artist(s): The Owl Watches

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

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 & 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


Previously in Exposé...

Die Anarchistiche Abendunterhaltung - We Need New Animals – Under this rather long and cryptic (!) name [Die Anarchistische Abendunterhaltung] is hidden a Belgian band operating in the same areas as Cro Magnon, Maximalist!, Ensemble Nimbus, Miriodor or Palo...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues