As No-Man is an island, Tim Bowness (b. Warrington, England) vocals/lyrics, met multi-instrumentalist Steve Wilson, guitar/bass/keys programming/mixing, etc., through an avid interest in all kinds of music. Cross-breeding is a particular forte; for example, it is not uncommon to hear a dance beat, a violin, and a sprawling guitar solo on the same track. Influences range from Arvo Pärt to Talk Talk. For a time, the duo were complemented by violinist Ben Coleman. Although several minor releases came in the mid-to late '80s, it was really in 1990 that the No-Man catalog begins with a cover of Donovan's "Colours." Next was the "Days in the Trees," now long since deleted, this remains one of No-Man's most memorable recordings. In 1992, the band found themselves playing live shows with ex-Japan maestros Steve Jansen, Richard Barbieri, and Mick Karn; the latter also guests on much of No-Man's output beginning with their 1993 debut Loveblows & Lovecries. For their second album, 1994 masterpiece Flowermouth, help was also enlisted in the form of Robert Fripp, his old colleague Mel Collins, and jazz musician Ian Carr. A remix edition entitled Flowermix was issued the following year featuring a stunning ten-minute reworking of "You Grow More Beautiful," retitled "Faith in You." More experimental was their next outing, Wild Opera (1996) with titles such as Housewives Hooked on Heroin and Infant Phenomenon (seemingly a cousin to David Sylvian and Fripp's Darshan). The band were obviously not concerned with the realm of commercial activity; however, the album did contain moments that were more radio-friendly, notably stand-out track "My Revenge on Seattle." Wild Opera also spawned an off-shoot semi-album, Dry Cleaning Ray. Both members have also pursued their various side projects: Porcupine Tree/Bass Communion (Wilson), Darkroom (Bowness, who also recorded excellent album Flame with Richard Barbieri, and World of Bright Futures with Samuel Smiles). Wilson has recently been engaged in production activities with Fish and his former colleagues Marillion, but these projects all lend to clogging up the progress of No-Man; apart from the 1999 EP, Carolina Skeletons, and the reissue of late-'80s work Speak. This duo is far from done yet and the new year should see more from the band, as yet unheard by many deserving ears. Housewives Hooked on Heroin followed in mid-2000; Returning Jesus appeared a year later. ~ Kelvin Hayes, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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