Keaver and Brause
The Middle Way


3.5
great

Review

by Kevin K USER (57 Reviews)
April 24th, 2011 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist


Tom Watson is pretty modest. He’s not really one for having pictures taken of him, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want anyone to know his last name as he uses his faux-twosome moniker to lead people to believe he's a pair of people called 'Tom Keaver' and 'Tom Brause'. He’s basically shuffled in with the Boards of Canada clones, Lone copycats and Bibio mimics as garden-variety downtempo. Being signed on the Lone-influenced Dealmaker Records, you can expect his sound to be psychedelic and filled with sonic beats. His sound may not be as definitive as the above artists’, but in spite of this Watson creates an album that he can safely call his own.

The Middle Way's distinction lies in Watson's use of beats and samples. Strings, pianos and electronic pieces hold the framework for the album, being a little bit more eclectic than its peers. Voices are sampled sparingly, but they’re used effectively to sprinkle a little bit of life across the soundscape . Using tools common to trip-hop artists, Keaver and Brause creates songs like “Summer t’Say”, whose beats bounce around to keep the gospel-esque vocal samples afloat with verve. Sandwiching the album is a unique intro and outro, the former buzzing in like fluttering wings trying to acquire a rhythm, and the latter ticking away with synthesizers like a flickering flame. Some less-than successful experimentation manifests in “Fision”, flopping all over the place with bizarre glitch noises without the atmosphere and magic of other tracks on the album.

Watson’s influences are anything but subtle on his debut. It’s pretty plain that he’s inspired by IDM juggernauts Boards of Canada, “Livfe” and “CSNR” treading nonchalantly along those hostile, nostalgic lines. A little bit less recognizable but equally noticeable are more upbeat, daydreamy notes taken from his underground contemporary Lone. Light-hearted but chilling pianos and flutes make up “Bounce” in its wistful nature, having an aura reminiscent of Lone’s Lemurian-era sound. Similarly, “Cedar Green” flourishes with skipping piano melodies beneath the hazy, airy electronic winds while being broken up by subtle beats and cymbals. Several songs on The Middle Way borrow from jazz, and it’s most effectively utilized on “Awake”, drifting delicately with equally soothing pianos and drum lines for one hell of a nature walk. Effectively though, The Middle Way isn’t a direct clone of common IDM fare (though it may seem so at first) and uses Watson’s various inspirations uniquely.

Keaver and Brause’s debut record is strong and promising, though he doesn’t do too much to stick out among his underground pool of influences. It’s true that Watson has a sound of his own but as said above, he’s rather humble and doesn’t necessarily need a groundbreaking new style or innovation. For those looking for a sound reminiscent of Matt Cutler or Boards of Canada, Tom Watson’s The Middle Way can most definitely feed your cravings; otherwise his sound may not be quite as accessible to the common listener.



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user ratings (3)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
WashboardSuds
April 24th 2011


5016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album needed a review pretty bad.
comments/criticism greatly appreciated, thanks

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
April 24th 2011


7042 Comments


Pleasure to read Sudsie, pos.

WashboardSuds
April 24th 2011


5016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks Ipod. I'm pretty satisfied with this one over my last few

pizzamachine
April 24th 2011


12571 Comments


Great review WashboardSuds, I don't have much to add. : )

Neenahskater
April 24th 2011


353 Comments


good review

WashboardSuds
April 24th 2011


5016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks guys, review took me a lot longer than it probably should have tbh

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
April 24th 2011


31174 Comments


My only real complaint with this review is this line here:

want anyone to know his last name as he sneaks around confused for ‘Tom Keaver’ or ‘Tom Brause’,


It reads really awkwardly, and even though I know what you're trying to say you should look at rewording it ever so slightly. "as he sneaks around under the monikers or...." makes more sense. And I would also say "he's shuffled in with the likes of....."

Otherwise, great work man

Digging: LV and Joshua Idehen - Islands

WashboardSuds
April 24th 2011


5016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks Dev, appreciate it. I'll fix those ones up

Irving
Staff Reviewer
April 26th 2011


7294 Comments


Really great review. Probably one of your best yet. Some minor comments for your consideration:

i.) the soundscape . Using tools

Spacing error.

ii.) Using tools common to trip-hop artists, Keaver and Brause creates songs like “Summer t’Say”, whose beats bounce around to keep the gospel-esque vocal samples afloat with verve. Sandwiching the album is a unique intro and outro, the former buzzing in like fluttering wings trying to acquire a rhythm, and the latter ticking away with synthesizers like a flickering flame.

It's a bit odd that you start talking about one of the songs, before starting to detail the intro and outro. Consider simply switching those two lines - I for one believe that that would make the review read (or at least flow) a lot better.

iii.) There are some sentences that probably make all the sense in the world to you, but are harder to grasp from a reader's perspective. E.g: Effectively though, The Middle Way isn’t a direct clone of common IDM fare (though it may seem so at first) and uses Watson’s various inspirations uniquely - I'm sure your point is as clear as day to yourself, but I for one find the sentence to be barely more than filler that serves no purpose in furthering the argumentation of this review. Careful examination of this review once more will reveal similarly-constructed sentences.

-

Overall however, this was a great review. Like I said - I feel like it is very probably one of your best (at least to the best of my knowledge). Moreover - and more intriguingly - the air of confidence exuded by the first few opening lines speaks to me like something I would find on a site like, say, Pitchfork. It seems to me like you're finding your reviewing voice. Keep it up =)

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

WashboardSuds
April 26th 2011


5016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks a lot Irving, I really appreciate your detailed and helpful critiques :] and it means a lot that you think this could be my best. I asked Deviant to check this out too, not because I'm fawning for attention but I really thought I was going in the right direction with this one, and I'm glad it worked out. I'll definitely fix up what you pointed out, again appreciate it man

Irving
Staff Reviewer
April 27th 2011


7294 Comments


You're definitely improving as a writer, and that makes me happy. Just keep working at it, and with a little bit of luck, we'll see a shiny new "Contrib" tag under your name before long ;)

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
April 27th 2011


7042 Comments


Dev is definitely good for blunt criticism, and it's a good way to find out what the hell you are doing wrong, i have used Dev's advice (whether asked for or not) to help me out. Suds007- Contributor

WashboardSuds
April 27th 2011


5016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I wouldn't mind being a contributor but I don't know if I'll be able to keep up with new releases and whatnot. like what exactly do contributors do as far as responsibilities go?

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
April 27th 2011


7042 Comments


New albums, News items, consistent and higher amounts of reviews (something i fall short on), Advice for new writers, more, moar.
I wouldn't mind the tag, but i have some serious work to do first.

scissorlocked
May 4th 2011


3510 Comments


superb review washbro!!

you have improved tremendously

album seems to be in the vein of your favorite BoC and Lone, It's good to see that your review choices are connected

WashboardSuds
May 6th 2011


5016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

thanks scissor!

yeah if you like either of those guys this is a great listen man

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
May 6th 2011


7042 Comments


This is one of your best suds, keep up the good work.



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