Memories of Machines is a collaborative effort headed by Tim Bowness, singer/songwriter/composer of the band No - Man and Giancarlo Erra, singer/songwriter/ composer for the band Nosound. They have brought in some other great talent for this album as well, including: (Steve Wilson, Michael Bearpark, Stephen Bennett and Andy Booker from No - Man), Robert Fripp, Peter Hammill, Julianne Regan, Jim Matheos, (Paolo Martellacci, Alessandro Luci, Gabriele Savini and Gigi Zito from Nosound), and a list of many other talented artists to deliver their debut album.
If you are familiar with either No - Man or Nosound, then you are probably familiar with their style of soft, emotion filled lyrics and powerful multi – layer sound. Together, this No - Man /Nosound collaboration delivers a wall of emotional sound, full of layers of delicate architecture that will fill your ears with wonder.
I heard about this teaming about two years ago and have been looking forward to it ever since. It has not left my morning listening queue since I received it. The album is a perfect start to any morning. Two years in the making, and like everything these artist do it's not released until it sounds perfect. No revisions necessary. Take your time, get it right, and then deliver perfection.
Take some time from your busy day, put on some headphones and listen to the sound of perfection!
'Warm Winter' opens with the quiet slow sound of keys and strings to 'New Memories of Machines'. Then Tim Bowness opens with "stories…come out of other stories…" The perfect memory initiator.
'Before We Fall' may be the best song on an album of perfect sounding tracks full of emotion and power. Giancarlo's Nosound influence drives through the center of this track bringing the keys, chords and strings that bring back memories of Nosound's best song "From Silence to Noise". It is a perfect follow up to the opener. Tim Bowness' voice enters to remind you that this is a team effort. I've said it before in other reviews, but no other vocalist today can deliver more emotion in a song than Tim Bowness, and this song is the perfect showcase. The lyrics and vocal sincerity is unmatched by any other singer that I know of today. The backing female vocals help enhance that feel of a great Pink Floyd epic vibe. Giancarlo's guitar soloing and the keys fill the air with that Nosound volume. The bass work also adds depth to the sound. Nettermalm's drums never miss a beat.
How could they possibly improve one of the best No - Man songs ever, 'Beautiful Songs You Should Know', off 'Schoolyard Ghosts'? That's what I asked myself when I first saw the track listed on the album. One definite way was to take it even deeper by adding the dynamic cello playing of Marianne de Chastelaine, and bring her on early in the song. The strings and soft acoustic guitar with that Nosound keyboard soundscape behind it pull every possible emotion you could feel out. Such an incredible revision, and Bowness seems to be able to find an additional level of powerful emotion in his vocal delivery. The original No - Man version is much more stripped down with deep bass opening instead of the cello. Although the original may have been more personal and maybe direct, this new version is over the top in the wash of emotions that fill the air with that wall of sound delivery. Chastelaine's cello ending is the clincher.
Soft acoustic guitar and that wall of keys flood the emotions again for 'Warm Winter'. More fantastic emotional vocals from Bowness and those slow keyboard sounds, melding Nosound with No - Man's feeling, for the perfect mix of talent. Giancarlo's guitar soloing is just magnificent. "Hear the sirens through the rain".
'Lucky You, Lucky Me' is another of my favorites. It is full of deep sincere lyrics. "I'll send you all I couldn't say. You can't always make it pretty so ugly has its way. Take my words and use my words to heal the hurt and the blame". A great combination of that Nosound/ No - Man mix with the falling/flying keyboard effects that completely surround the soundscape. These two artists and composers know how to provide wonderful fill sounds that make their songs a journey to explore each time you hear them. The multi – layering effects insure that there are many channels to pick out each time you listen to the tracks. "You try to make it perfect when it only wants to live". This track features the guitars and keyboards of Steve Wilson. The King Crimson – like chords finish the song majestically.
Gigi Zito, from Nosound brings his drums to open 'Change Me Once Again', as the cool keyboard and guitar effects swirl around the track's opening. Gabriele Savini's acoustic guitar adds great atmosphere. "With no regret I come to you. Sweet surrender to something true. Forget the heartache. Forget the past. All our escaping is all that lasts". The keyboards up front and flowing like a waterfall in the background will knock you back as they surround these lyrics. Then Giancarlo's commanding guitar solo as Julianne Regan's soft sweet oohs echo throughout. Another dynamic and commanding performance.
Jim Matheos, lead guitarist of Fates Warning and OSI opens 'Something in Our Lives' with some dramatic guitar chords that weave through the excellent piano work that just falls like soft rain all over the soundscape. Bowness is spot on in his dramatic delivery of the deeper, darker lyrics. The cool Floydian keyboards that surround in the background providing even more depth and layers of sound. More of those cool Crimson - like bass notes mingling with the acoustic guitar to take us out.
Aleksei Saks provides trumpet at the opening of 'Lost and Found in the Digital World'. It sounds wonderful mixed with those layers of keyboards and strings. Robert Fripp provides over - arching soundscapes which tower like skyscrapers or cliffs amidst Regan's soft sweet backing vocals as she duets with Bowness.
'Schoolyard Ghosts' is another No - Man song, which this team improves upon. Andy Booker, the drummer from No - Man adds those cool cymbals at the opening as Stephen Bennett weaves in the electric piano and delivers a synth solo later. Peter Chilvers provides those deep bass notes adding volume, while Michael Bearpark provides swell guitar to Myke Clifford's saxophone blowing like a warm breeze in the background. The lyrics…well here you go: "You and Jules down vodka shots, to hide the feelings that you got. You love her eyes, you love her mouth. You love her put on rock chick pout". You can tell Bowness really enjoyed making that last No Man album, but wanted to add more to this song. Mission accomplished.
That long range keyboard effect, that opens 'At the Center of it All' will grab your attention, almost breathlessly. An incredible way to open an epic closer, as if from a dream. That wonderful 'Silence to Noise' effect. Giancarlo's piano mixed well with Peter Hammill's guitar and those string effects that surround the soundscape just rivet your attention. Chastelaine's dramatic cello and Colin Edwin's double bass delivering deep, emotional sound that quakes. Bowness delivers the emotion – laden lyrics, "The things you missed at the center of it all", with brilliance and the smooth touch that only he can. Perfect way to close an epic album.
When you are at the top of your game it shows. You can hear it throughout this masterpiece. This is how music should be made. Take your time and deliver perfection. Working smart to make it sound easy.
- New Memories Of Machines (1.31)
- Before We Fall (5.12)
- Beautiful Songs You Should Know (4.59)
- Warm Winter (5.34)
- Lucky You, Lucky Me (4.17)
- Change Me Once Again (5.56)
- Something In Our Lives (4.11)
- Lost And Found In The Digital World (5.14)
- Schoolyard Ghosts (5.32)
- At The Centre Of It All (7.26)