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No-Man: Mixtaped (DVD)
For those of you unfamiliar with No-Man, they are a tandem formed by guitarist Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Blackfield) and lead vocalist Tim Bowness. Although I had been aware of this band for quite some time I have not had the pleasure of hearing them until watching Mixtaped , recorded live at Bush Hall, London on August 29, 2008. Joining the pair are some very talented guest musicians including Michael Bearpark (guitars), Stephen Bennett (keyboards), Steve Bingham (violin), Andrew Booker (drums), Pete Morgan (bass) and Ben Coleman (violin). No-Man are the epitome of deeply rooted melancholic music being made today. The good thing about No-Man is that as much as this music is sad it is just as beautiful. Although not an animated performance by Bowness, he comes across as rather reserved, his voice is pure and mournful, giving as heartfelt a performance by a vocalist I have heard. In perfect harmony with the vocals, Wilson makes his own textures and guitar soundscapes that add another layer of atmosphere to these songs. Whether subtle picking, dreamy atmospherics, mind numbing feedback or psychedelic rhythmic walls of sound, Wilson's guitar is a vital component to No-Man's aural trappings. It should be noted Bearpark's guitar is equally as vital.
Disc one consists of fourteen tracks spanning the band's career. The concert begins with the delicate beauty that is "Only Rain" featuring somber violin that matches the melancholy in Bowness's voice. The violin is also an integral part of the band's sound as it, much like the guitar, is able to convey the mood of the piece. "Time Travel in Texas" rocks a lot harder as distorted guitar effects and feedback starts it off and includes a pretty heavy solo from Wilson. One of the more heart wrenching efforts is the haunting "All Sweet Things" originally released on Schoolyard Ghosts, where a mellow piano melody melds with subtle acoustic guitar with the violin adding another layer of sadness.
A couple more favourites include the guitar heavy "Mixtaped" where Wilson's guitar atmospheres and fragments of feedback at the beginning has an element of Pink Floyd's Sorrow and the melodic "Things Change" starting with a more reserved sound before violinist Ben Coleman doe his best Hendrix imitation, making his instrument scream with delight.
As can be expected with any project Wilson puts his name on, the DVD looks and sounds fantastic, with stunningly clear instrumentation and excellent video quality.
Disc two features an 85 minute documentary of the band including a very interesting interview with Bowness and Wilson and various band members. Also included are assorted videos, a chronology of the band and more. The video of "Back When You Were Beautiful" is so moving it just may bring a tear to your eye.
The music of No-Man music has an underlying intensity that practically oozes with emotion. Whether its No-Man's explorations in pop, prog, jazz, rock, spacey ambience or psychedelia, rest assured it will be wrapped in a blanket of melancholy that only No-Man can deliver. Its hard not to be drawn into the beauty of it all. Highly recommended!
Disc One – Mixtaped
1. Only Rain
2. Time Travel in Texas
3. All Sweet Things
4. Pretty Genius
5. All the Blue Changes
7. Wherever There is Light
8. Days in the Trees (version)
10. Carolina Skeletons
11. Returning Jesus
13. Things Change
14. Watching Over Me
Disc Two – Returning
• Deleted Scenes
2. Sweetheart Raw
3. You Grow More Beautiful
4. The Ballet Beast
5. Back When You Were Beautiful
6. Back When You Were Beautiful (5.1 mix)
• No-Man Chronology
Added: January 24th 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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