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No-Man: Mixtaped

January 30, 2014
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MixtapedNo-Man is the brainchild of vocalist/lyricist Tim Bowness and guitarist/composer Steven Wilson (also a member of prog titans Porcupine Tree). Since its inception in the late ’80s, No-Man has continually shifted lineups and styles, exploring pop, ambient, trip-hop, electronica, classical minimalism, avant-psychedelia, and various shades of art-rock along the way. After a 15-year performing hiatus, Bowness and Wilson assembled a 7-piece group that included guitarist Michael Bearpark, violinist Steve Bingham, bassist Pete Morgan, drummer Andrew Booker, and keyboardist Stephen Bennett (with cameos by violinist Ben Coleman) for a series of shows in 2008.

One DVD in this two-disc set contains an entire 90-minute live performance at Bush Hall on August 20, 2008, in which the bands presents updated treatments of material spanning its entire catalog, including several songs from 2008’s spectacular Schoolyard Ghosts album. The interplay among the musicians is superb, with Wilson and Bearpark conjuring textures ranging from delicate and atmospheric to devastating, which combine with the spare keyboards and stately violin figures to form haunting and deeply evocative contexts for Bowman’s breathy and typically pensive vocals. (And the audio, available in stereo or 5.1 surround sound, is equal to the music in quality.)

The second DVD contains an 85-minute documentary by Richard Smith, which weaves together in-depth interviews with all of the band members past and present, historical footage and photographs, and much more into an enlightening and entertaining whole. A bevy of bonus material, including music videos, deleted scenes, photographs from three 2008 shows, etc. completes this wonderful package from this highly literary and musically adept group that was once hailed as “conceivably the most important band since the Smiths.” K-Scope.

 

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