'The Golden Sun Of The Great East'
Some artists simply need no introduction as their body of work speaks for itself. Ben Watkins, AKA Juno Reactor is one of those artists. A career of blending ground-breaking electronica with dance and world music has seen his music grace both dance floors as well as some of the biggest film soundtracks of the past decade. Now, five years after his last outing on 'Gods & Monsters' Watkins returns with 'The Golden Sun Of The Great East'. With a twenty-year legacy to his name there is a lot of high expectation for this album.
From the opening of the fast-paced 'Final Frontier' it is evident that Watkins' edge hasn't dulled in the interval years. All the elements that have come to be associated with Juno Reactor are evident throughout; globe-hopping instruments and vocals along with classical embellishments compliment the incendiary trance beats and hypnotic electronics.
Songs like 'Invisible', 'Trans Siberian', 'Tempest', 'Zombie', and 'Playing With Fire' will no doubt come to be viewed as classics within the Juno Reactor back catalogue. But all the tracks have the power to move you both physically and emotionally as the various ethnic, classical and choral overtones interact with their strong fundamental dance structures.
Yet 'The Golden Sun Of The Great East' doesn't particularly break new ground for Juno Reactor. For all the evocative power of the songs there isn't really anything that pushes the envelope for Watkins. For the most part, the album takes the slower, more restrained path laid out on 'Gods & Monsters'. But while it may arguably lack the full-on force of tracks like 'Navaras' and 'Conga Fury', it is still a solid dance album. Albeit a rather psychedelic and immersible one.
With 'The Golden Sun Of The Great East', Watkins returns to do what he does best. There isn't any need to fix what isn't broken. Instead Watkins focusses on the kind sheer cinematic scope and evocative song writing that is begging to be part of a huge live show.