Tim Bowness has been beavering away at his music career for longer than you would think – count in decades rather than years. He is probably best known as vocalist/co-writer with the band no-man, a long-running collaboration with the ubiquitous prog-legend Steven Wilson. In addition to releasing seven studio albums and a documentary DVD with no-man, Tim has also worked with popular Italian artist Alice (on her Italian Top 20 album Viaggio In Italia), Mercury Prize nominated Banco De Gaia, Robert Fripp, Peter Hammill, Phil Manzanera and many others. Tim recorded the album Flame in 1994 with Richard Barbieri (Porcupine Tree/ex-Japan), co-produced/co-wrote the acclaimed Talking With Strangers in 2009 for Judy Dyble (ex-Fairport Convention), and has had a long-term collaborative partnership with Peter Chilvers (Brian Eno/Karl Hyde). A busy bloke then, but one who has maintained a relatively low profile.
Tim’s recent quartet of solo releases on InsideOutMusic/Sony, beginning with Abandoned Dancehall Dreams in 2014, were both critically and commercially well received, entering the official UK Top 5 Rock, Progressive, and Vinyl charts, as well as the official Scottish charts. Along with Steven Wilson, he is now also the co-host of The Album Years, which has reached the Top 5 Music Podcast charts in over 25 countries (#1 in 10).
Late Night Laments is his most solo recent release. It is a collection of colourfully rich, atmospheric songs with a wide lyrical scope marking this as probably the most intimate yet all-embracing of Tim’s solo releases. Contrasting with the often-sensuous beauty of the music, the frequently dark lyrical themes include meditations on generational divides, ideologically motivated violence, social exclusion, and a much-loved children’s author’s descent into madness. The sort of stuff that might keep Roger Waters awake at night then! It was mixed by Steven Wilson and mastered by Calum Malcolm (The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout), the album being co-produced by Bowness and Brian Hulse. It combines electronic soundscapes, acoustic instrumentation and unexpected rhythms in a tightly focused and emotionally charged entry in what is proving to be his increasingly impressive solo catalogue.
Tim’s voice is well suited to this kind of music. Like the music itself, he does not have a particularly dramatic style, with the kind of breathiness in his voice you might find at home in a jazz and blues club. That is exactly what this music needs, an intimacy to focus the attention. Given the title of the album, the lyrical content and the atmospheres therein, this is indeed late night listening in any case. The songs themselves are similarly paced, but well played by the assembled musicians. It is quite a list too, with Richard Barbieri, Colin Edwin, and Kavus Torabi standing out for prog-rock fans. There’s a good flow to the music too, often with one track seeming to meld into another. It is true, though, that the laid-back nature of the music does produce a little sameness overall. There is a nuanced balance between the darkness of the lyrics, the pacing of the music and its vibrancy. This remains a very good listen, with much to impress and intrigue.
1) Northern Rain (4.49)
2) I’m Better Now (3.52)
3) Darkline (3.57)
4) We Caught The Light (3.56)
5) The Hitman Who Missed (3.21)
6) Never A Place (4.41)
7) The Last Getaway (4.55)
8) Hidden Life (5.05)
9) One Last Call (4.15)
The bonus disc on the CD edition features five unreleased pieces, four from the Late Night Laments sessions and one – featuring Peter Hammill and Adam Holzman – a Flowers At The Scene outtake. Cheerleaders For The Damned (extras):
1) The Other Side (4.11)
2) Beauty In Decay (3.43)
3) Beyond The Firing Line (4.19)
4) Cheerleader For The Damned (2.52)
5) War Games By The Sea (3.00)
Tim Bowness – vocals / backing vocals / synths 2, 9 /
samples 2, 9 / ukuleles 4 / fx 2, 6
Brian Hulse – synths / keyboards / guitars / programmed drums / backing vocals 4
Tom Atherton – vibraphone 1, 4, 5, 6, 9
Richard Barbieri – synths and synth solos 3, 7
Evan Carson – drums and percussion 1, 4
Colin Edwin – double bass 4, 5, 9
Alistair Murphy – dianatron 5
Kavus Torabi – glissando guitar and guitar solo 2 / backing vocals 4
Melanie Woods – backing vocals 1, 2, 4
Release Date: August 28th, 2020
Limited Edition 2CD Digipak, Gatefold LP (incl. the album on CD), Digital Album