Kit Watkins ~ vocals, keys, bass, wind synthesizer, percussion
Forrest Young ~ drums & percussion (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6, 7)
Bill Smith ~ assorted percussion (tracks 2, 4)
Greg Moreau ~ ebow guitar (track 4)
PRODUCED & ENGINEERED BY KIT WATKINS, 2007-19
All tracks by Kit Watkins, except #1 by Peter Bardens.
Cover design by Kit Watkins
Kit Watkins, maestro of both the progressive and ambient genres, has generated musical splendor spanning five decades. His sonic landscapes have shown a mastery of percussion, woodwinds, synthesizers, and a host of other-worldly instruments. For his 30th official studio album, Field of View, Kit has imbued almost every new air with the magic of his own voice. In lyrical form and as a textural blanket, his vocals help the listener ascend to enjoy endlessly evocative views.
Three additional minstrels, Forrest Young, Bill Smith, and Greg Moreau each give an exhilarating new energy to key tracks. From these ingots of glowing metal, Kit has forged an accessible yet deeply hypnotic musical adventure for listeners. Hearken to these Views... Behold the Field of possibilities therein, and this album will transport you, again and again.
Seductive soundscapes from American ambient-progger. Since playing with Happy The Man and, for one album, Camel in the late 70s, Kit Watkins has released 30 albums. If they're all as gently uplifting as this, we should go spend the rest of the year living inside them. Primarily a keyboard wizard, having made his name in the arenas of progressive and ambient, the North Carolina-based musician plays multiple instruments here, with two percussionists and an Ebow guitarist joining him in spells. He even usess his voice, though as an extra texture rather than to enunciate anything so basic as words. Speaking of Camel, the opening track is a version of their Spirit Of The Water, from Moonmadness. This he sings well, but it's atypical of the rest of the album, which meanders delightfully through instrumental (bar those wordless voices) pieces. The quivering Life After Truth (evocative of Nouvelle Vague film soundtracks) and the peripatetic Paradoxicon, while just lovely, refuse to let you ignore them as background wallpaper, such is their depth. The 10-minute To Love Their Servitude delves doggedly into rhythm, while the title track is somehow, impressively, both relaxed and restless. -- CR, Prog Magazine
It’s always good news whenever Kit Watkins releases new music, and for me, being unaware of his two 2015 releases, the last one I heard was Sky Zone from 2006. When one listens to the seven cuts here the music unmistakably has Watkins’ signature all over it, both in composition, arrangements, and performance — there is really nodody else who sounds like him. The biggest news regarding Field of View is that Kit is using his voice far more more than almost any of his previous releases, although with the exception of the opener “Spirit of the Water” (a cover of the Camel tune from Moonmadness), most of the vocals here are wordless extensions of his instrumental palette, mostly keyboards, wind synthesizer, and percussion. He is joined by various drummers and percussionists (Forrest Young or Bill Smith, track depending) and one cut (“Paradoxicon”) features Greg Moreau on ebow guitar. One might recall that the Camel version of that opening track sounds like the vocals were routed through Leslie speakers, giving it a very alien and distant sound; on the version at hand, Watkins’ voice is strong and completely untreated, yet still has that haunting mysteriousness that made it so special to begin with. Another haunting track here that will follow the listener around all day and night is “The Vessel Ruse,” a six chord sequence that stops and goes, highlighted by a strong bass undercurrent and percussion punctuated with colorful melodic sprites. The ten-minute “To Love Their Servitude” is reminiscent of some of the material from his Azure period, though some tuned mallet percussion (via synths I’m sure) is spread throughout the piece as well as some sampled spoken voice bits toward the end that elaborate on the title if one listens closely. A bit closer to heaven is “Life after Truth,” where Watkins’ wordless voices take center stage, certainly unlike anything he has done previously, though still bearing his imaginative compositional style. The title track closes the set, a dreamy and magical space where pillowy wind-synths criss-cross with voices and a piano undercurrent shifting from place to place, at times seeming restless, and calming in others. Overall, Field of View is a fine return to classic form with enough new elements in the mix to make it a sizable step forward. —Peter Thelen, 7-30-2019, Exposé
As it is a big surprise to review a new Kit Watkins album, it was even a bigger surprise to see that the album opener is a beautiful cover of the Peter Bardens (Moonmadness - Camel) track “Spirit of the Water”. This because I know that Kit at one point didn’t wanted to be associated with Progressive Rock anymore. That was understandable because he was always linked to his Camel and Happy The Man days at the time he was trying to build up a solo career in the fields of electronic and ambient music. At that time I had to convince him to do an interview for progVisions. In my opinion also his ambient work was and is groundbreaking and therefore also progressive. This said his version of “Spirit of the Water” is a wonderful and beautiful performance. Made with a lot of respect to the late Peter Bardens. This amazing performance keeps another surprise, Kit is responsible for the vocals. He is doing a wonderful job here. This delicate song fits seamlessly with the other songs of this album. Especially with the next song “Legato Paramecium”. Some keyboard sounds on this track reminds me of Kit’s first two solo albums. The beautiful “Labyrinth” and “Frames Of Minds” albums. Beautiful and relaxed atmospheres with wordless vocals. This is followed by the beautiful “Life After Truth”. The atmosphere of this piece reminds of heyday of the Pat Metheny Group. The time when Brazilian singer Pedro Aznar was in that band. He also was using his voice as an instrument and didn’t needed lyrics. What a lovely song this is. With almost 10 minutes the following song “Paradoxicon” is together with “To Love Their Servitude” and title track “Field of View” one of the three longer tracks of this album. The atmosphere is a little bit comparable with “Legato Paramecium” but it has also those beautiful, spacious and broad layers of keyboard orchestrations and a lot of percussion. It has also some jazzy rhythms. Listening to this album I get the impression that we musically are following the solo career of Kit Watkins. The atmosphere stays relaxed with the song “The Vessel Ruse”. The contributions of the guests are always menial to the compositions. “To Love Their Servitude” is with 10:13 minutes the longest track. Kit uses some sound samples of spoken voice and animal sounds in this song which is in my humble opinion maybe slightly on the long side. The album ends in style with the title track “Field Of View”. A typical Kit Watkins track which ends with environmental sounds of bird calls in the forest. This reinforces my feeling of Kit Watkins displaying all the elements of his solo career so far on this album. Hopefully this album will be the first step of a continuing musical career. -- Douwe Fledderus, progVisions
Kit Watkins — Kit’s solo career began in 1980 with the self-produced album Labyrinth, released on his own Azimuth Records label. The album won him 5th place in Keyboard magazine’s Annual Readers’ Poll Awards for keyboard album. Before this, Kit had recorded and toured with bands Happy The Man and Camel. He currently lives in North Carolina and enjoys gardening.
Forrest Young — Forrest became known as “The Emergency Drummer” in the late 90s while studying jazz at VCU. He’s earned three Emmy Awards for his session work on separate PBS documentaries. Forrest is also a visual artist whose Lyric Portraits can be seen at ArtThruZ.com.
Bill Smith — Bill is a drummer/percussionist who has performed in an eclectic array of ensembles playing rock, jazz, blues, Celtic, and avant-garde music. His album, “Music for Gongs, Bells & Singing Bowls,” led to his sessions using gongs for meditation, yoga, and wellness throughout the Southeast.
Greg Moreau — Greg has recorded many wonderful pieces of music over the years, influenced heavily by the art music movement from the 80s. His EBow work graces the track Paradoxicon.on this album, and gives a glimpse into his creative genius.