Marshall Watson: Unlighted Paths

Unlighted Paths signifies a change on many fronts for Watson, and not merely because it finds him decamping from Highpoint Lowlife for Obviously, the track's half-hour running time signifies a move away from song-based structures to something more epic. Produced entirely using Prophet 8, Native Instruments Maschine, and Ableton Live 8, the track is also heavily synth-based, “clean” in sound, and free of glitchy bits. Watson's simplified approach to production results in an appealingly synthetic piece that feels lithe and unencumbered by extraneous elements. Though it's a single movement, there are four parts of distinct character, with each flowing smoothly into the next. Not surprisingly, a restrained episode initiates the track to set the scene before a more animated section arises at the six-minute mark to send the piece into a radiant techno-based episode that will eventually blossom into a sound even more gloriously iridescent as the track nears its close. Anything but lugubrious, Unlighted Paths exudes a buoyant and breezy vibe as it undertakes its semi-euphoric journey, sometimes stopping to catch its breath to take in the surrounding scenery and at other times charging forward as if hellbent on reaching a destination in record time (the sole caveat concerns the far too rapid exeunt—a slower fade would have been more in keeping with the track's patient build). Its pulsating ebb and flow gives it the feel of a DJ mix though in this case Watson obviously isn't sequencing unrelated tracks into a seamless flow but instead weaving his own materials into a single, long-form setting.

October 2009