Kit Watkins is making quite a splash these days (see the current [March 2004] interview with him for more detail). One of his non-solo projects is a collaborative effort with musicians John Tlusty and Brad Allen. The three of them comprise Tone (Watkins), Ghost (Tlusty), and Ether (Allen). That this collaboration is an equal effort should be evidenced in the naming convention used for every CD and every track on every CD: all the titles contain three words!
I first reviewed Tone Ghost Ether’s three debut CDs in 2002 (see 05-15-2002 link for the review). Then I was enthralled with the combined ethereal quality of the music; Watkins’ trademark electronic wind instruments and lilting ambience and the percussive effects of Tlusty and Allen, both of whom are also multi-instrumentalists. As the trio has matured, their sound has become more cohesive. Guard Lock Skin is presented as TGE’s “World Fusion” CD (the first three being Ambient, Acid-Jazz, and Mind-Trip), but aside from some background guttural utterances, the music on this Cd is every bit as flowing, and every bit as listenable as the three previous releases.
The four tracks on the CD are lengthy expositions that allow the individual instrumentalists to explore and stretch their inspirations. The shortest track is over seven minutes in length, the longest twenty-four. Tone Ghost Ether records all tracks live, using minimal editing and no overdubs. This personal improvisation allows the music to emanate as it develops. The result is astounding. That three musicians can work together in such a manner is remarkable; jam sessions are not unknown, of course, but typically a jam consists of a musical foundation based on a known pattern, such as a twelve-bar blues. In TGE’s case, the core quality of the pieces develops and mutates as it grows, the end result being a fascinating excursion of ambient and epic proportions.
—Fred Puhan, AMBIENT VISIONS