Review of Watching The Well Album by Jon Thorne

'Watching The Well' is an album written by Lamb bassist Jon Thorne. It is played by Jon Thorne and Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson, a man considered by Thorne to be his long term mentor. The pieces are to all intents and purposes instrumental and are divided into three separate movements, 'The Light That Guides', 'The Generous Heart' and finally 'The Tie That Binds'. Jon has produced the album as well as jointly collaborating to arrange both the strings and the choral parts to the album.

Watching The Well has obviously been given a great deal of care and attention from all involved. The detail and love which is evident throughout bare all the hallmarks of both keys contributors striving towards perfection. At times it can get a little involved and becomes more of a musicians musician appreciation society. The two incredibly skilled artists have combined many genres into the 12 tracks. Free Form Jazz, soft Folk, near Classical arrangements and instrumentation, Operatic vocalisations and even Electronica. The final result is an album of subtlety and absorption.

Jon Thorne Watching The Well Album

The first four pieces that comprise, and are lead off by, The Light That Guides include the Manchester Jazz Festival commission 'Watching The Well'. The opening 2 tracks combine and compliment each other wonderfully, the sweeping string arrangements and operatic aria style harmonisation creating a luscious soundscape of beautiful texture and depth. What makes these pieces, and possibly the album however, is the addition of horn, brass and woodwind instruments. The Saxophone of Gilad Atzman is sublime and draws obvious comparisons with David Sylvian's Brilliant Tress album.

Watching The Well owes as much to Jon Thorne's production as to his bass playing. The classical feel to many of the parts of the album are softened by the ease with which the arrangements are allowed such flowing transitions between each movement. The soft shuffle of the cymbals or the solitary harp give further dimensions to the cinematic compositions. Where the bass is brought to the fore, as with 'Victoria', from 'The Tie That Binds', the sound produced is highly inventive and although purists may beg to differ, is reminiscent of Sylvian's one time partner from Japan, Mick Karn.

Although at times a little indulgent, and sometimes losing focus, Watching The Well, is nevertheless a hypnotic, sensitive and superbly made slice of ambient.

Andrew Lockwood

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