“Here’s an album for you to review. I know I didn’t even need to ask.” That’s what the boss said.
Well, I do wear my fandoms on my sleeve. One of those fandoms is of no-man, Tim Bowness’ project with Steven Wilson.
It was my discovery of Mr. Wilson’s work in 2013 that led me to no-man, and by extension, the solo albums of Mr. Bowness.
With the bias of fandom comes high expectations. I loved Lost In The Ghost Light, Mr. Bowness’ last album. I enjoyed the pre-release singles from Flowers At The Scene and had high hopes that the rest of the album would be as strong as those songs.
Oh, this album is incredible. Each of the 11 songs are strong on their own but segued together as whole work, they spoke to me as a narrative. This narrative suggests the story of a relationship or relationships that dissolved. (That is my interpretation, mind you.)
This is a very human collection of songs, told in that atmospheric dreamscape voice that Mr. Bowness possesses. I would hope that many listeners can connect with at least some of the lyrics found here.
Some of the highlights of this album for me:
Lead track I Go Deeper is a strong opener with upfront drum and guitar sounds, which never muffle the singer in the mix. This song caught my attention as a single and it caught my attention as an album track. It was a great choice as a lead song musically and lyrically – “They’re waving at me, I’m not waving back”. It is the beginning of the narrative. This song has become an earworm for me!
The Train That Pulled Away really does give me the feeling of a train pulling away with forward rhythm. It sounds like leaving, with uplift and release.
It’s The World is a richly textured track featuring Peter Hammill (from Van der Graaf Generator), Jim Matheos (from Fates Warning) and Steven Wilson. Is that a reference to the album title in the lyrics? (It’s also the title of track 5…) A connection in the narrative. Another earworm! (Check out the video posted at the end of the article.)
Mr. Bowness and Mr. Wilson produced the album together under the no-man name, yet this is Mr. Bowness’ album. His voice is the standout sound here, never overshadowed by the instrumentation. (The album was mixed by Steven Wilson. One of the hallmarks of his work for me is that I can always hear the singer. They are never buried in the mix. Thank you sir.)
There is word of new no-man music on the horizon, if it sounds like Flowers At The Scene, I would be a happy fangirl.
And there is an impressive list of guests who assisted Mr. Bowness in creating this wonderful collection of songs. (See below.)
1. I Go Deeper
2. The Train That Pulled Away
3. Rainmark (feat. Jim Matheos)
4. Not Married Anymore (feat. Dylan Howe)
5. Flowers At The Scene (feat. Jim Matheos)
6. It’s The World (feat. Peter Hammill, Jim Matheos, Steven Wilson)
7. Borderline (feat. Dylan Howe, David Longdon)
9. The War On Me
10. Killing To Survive (feat. Peter Hammill)
11. What Lies Here (feat. Kevin Godley, Andy Partridge)
Produced by no-man
Mixed by Steven Wilson and mastered by Steve Kitch (The Pineapple Thief)
Artwork is by Jarrod Gosling.
Tim Bowness – vocals, backing vocals, ukulele, trumpet and guitar loops
Brian Hulse – synth/keyboards, guitar 1, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, drum programming 1, 4, 8, 9
Peter Hammill – guitar and vocals 6, backing vocals 10
James Matheos – guitar 3, 5, 6
Andy Partridge – guitar 11
Ian Dixon – trumpet 3, 7, 8
Aleksei Saks – looped trumpet 6
Colin Edwin – bass / double bass / fretless bass 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10
David K Jones – bass / double bass 4, 5, 8
Tom Atherton – drums 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10
Dylan Howe – drums 4, 7
Charles Grimsdale – drums 8
Kevin Godley – vocals 11
David Longdon – backing vocals, flute, melodica 7
Steven Wilson – synth 6, additional drum programming
Alistair ‘The Curator’ Murphy – string arrangement 2
Fran Broady – Bridge 5 string electro-acoustic violin, octave violin 2, 10
Artist website: http://timbowness.co.uk