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Bowness, Tim: Stupid Things That Mean the World

Tim Bowness should be a familiar name to any progressive rock fan, thanks to his many solo albums, collaborations with Steven Wilson in the band No-Man, acts like Henry Fool, Memories of Machines, Slow Electric, as well as recordings alongside Robert Fripp, Hugh Hopper, OSI, Phil Manzanera, and many others. Stupid Things That Mean the World is the latest InsideOut release from the singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, a sequel to 2014s Abandoned Dancehall Dreams. With some help from friends like Bruce Soord (Pineapple Thief), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), Stephen Bennet, Phil Manzanera (Roxy Music), Peter Hammill (Van Der Graaf Generator) David Rhodes, Rhys Marsh, Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson), Michael Bearpark, and Andrew Keeling, among others, Bowness has created a very melodic yet melancholic album that contains plenty of rewards for those who fancy the mellower side of prog rock.

Though things start off with a bit of bombast on the heavy progger "The Great Electric Teenage Dream", complete with chunky guitar and loads of bubbling keyboards, "Sing to Me" and "Where You've Always Been" show a softer side to Bowness, with dreamy, airy arrangements allowing for his lush vocal layers to take center stage. The title track is a bouncier, slightly more upbeat arrangement, almost like a cross between The Pineapple Thief and Mike & The Mechanics, with swirling musical accompaniment & insistent rhythms backing the catchy pop hooks. The more acoustic, folk based "Know That You Were Loved" takes things down an even more lush, pastoral road, while the mysterious "Press Reset" reminds of vintage Peter Gabriel or even early Porcupine Tree with its bubbling synths, yearning vocals, and guitar echoes. Though the back end of the CD drags a bit with a few tracks that either are too brief to really get cooking, or a continuation of the more folk based feel, the final cut "At the End of the Holiday" contains some of Bowness' most emotional vocals on the album, for a truly touching performance.

Ultimately, Stupid Things That Mean the World might be a tad too mellow for those who want a little more 'oomph' in their prog, and the many guests here aren't really afforded a lot to do, but if dreamy, vocal oriented music with plenty of pop melodies and lush musical arrangements is your thing, there's lots to enjoy here. Another winner from Mr. Bowness!

Track Listing
1) The Great Electric Teenage Dream
2) Sing to Me
3) Where You've Always Been
4) Stupid Things That Mean the World
5) Know That You Were Loved
6) Press Reset
7) All These Escapes
8) Everything You're Not
9) Everything But You
10) Soft William
11) At the End of the Holiday

Added: October 4th 2015
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Artist Facebook Page
Hits: 1939
Language: english

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Bowness, Tim: Stupid Things That Mean the World
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-10-04 10:07:38
My Score:

Perhaps best known for his work in No-Man, his collaboration with Steven Wilson, Tim Bowness is starting to form is own musical identity with three solo albums to his credit. His latest titled Stupid Things That Mean The World, is the follow up to 2014's Abandoned Dancehall Dreams.

On this new release there are some very special guests including Bruce Soord (Pineapple Thief), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree), Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson), Peter Hammill (Van Der Graaf Generator), David Rhodes (Peter Gabriel), Phil Manzanera (ex-Roxy Music, David Gilmour), Nick Magnus (ex-The Enid, Steve Hackett), Rhys Marsh (Kaukasus, Mandala) and many others. It is an impressive line-up and the music is all the better because of it.

"The Great Electric Teenage Dream" is a great opener. Big crashing rhythms and heavy drum beats lead to stark piano chords and Bowness' clear vocals. The music is both mellow and heavy with nice dynamics. Keyboards and Mellotron certainly help to create the brooding atmosphere that Bowness is so well known for. Often the themes throughout the album are dark and melancholy so it should come as no surprise this is not 'happy' music.

The exquisitely touching ballad "Sing To Me" follows suite with gorgeous lead vocals, lovely orchestrations and heavier dramatics. Bowness does a great job incorporating histrionic rhythms into the mellower soundscapes. Michael Bearpark adds some soaring lead guitar.

"Where You've Always Been" is another shorter tune with a simple piano melody and lovely vocals. So much emotion in so few notes.

The title track is another great tune. Tasty guitar rhythms and subtle orchestrations back another stellar vocal performance. The guitar arpeggios from Bearpark add an irresistible element to the mix. This is art pop of the highest order.

Clean acoustic guitar strums and Bowness' heartfelt vocals form the heart of the tender melancholic ballad "Know That You Were Loved". Synths and Mellotron form a lush backdrop upon which Bowness delivers one of his best vocal performances.

"Press Reset" is another stunner. An ethereal backing soundscape and Bowness' crystal clear voice captivates the listener. Drums can be heard in the distance slowly building until the full bass and drum groove along with heavy guitar riffs are unleashed. There is a slight industrial edge in the heavier moments.

"Everything You're Not" features slow acoustic strumming with a lush backing of violin and ethereal slide guitar courtesy of Peter Hammill who also provides melodic backing vocals. The liquid synth solo from Stephen Bennett is as tasty as it gets. It's followed by the short "Everything But You", complete with dense strings and Tull inspired flute trills.

The bonus disc is a nice surprise containing remixes/alternate versions of a couple tracks on the first disc by Nick Magnus and David Rhodes and a remixed No-Man track by Steven Wilson.

While I hear elements of artists such as Peter Gabriel, and of course Steven Wilson, make no mistake as Bowness is forging his own musical territory. The breadth and depth of this recording is simply outstanding. Stupid Things That Mean The World is an absolutely stunning achievement.

Released on InsideOut Music.

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