Tim Bowness-Late Night Laments.

Label: Inside Out Music.

Format: LP with CD.

When English singer, songwriter and producer Tim Bowness released his debut album My Hotel Year in 2004, he was already forty and was best known for his work the art pop duo No-Man which he had cofounded with Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson. The group was founded in 1987 and by 2004 had already released five studio albums had established a large, loyal following. Despite that, the two members of No-Man  continued to work on other projects.

By then, Tim Bowness was also a member of Samuel Smiles, Henry Fool and Centrozoon and had started to collaborated with Peter Chilvers. He had previously collaborated on an album with Richard Barbieri, been a guest vocalist on albums by Saro Cosentino and Alice and produced A Marble Calm. This kept life interesting for Tim Bowness. However, the one thing that he still had to do was release a solo album.

My Hotel Year.

In the autumn of 2003, Tim Bowness entered the studio to begin work on his debut solo album. The sessions continued until the summer of 2004 and he was joined by a number of his musical friends including former Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper, Roger Eno, Markus Reuter and Stephen Bennett of Henry Fool. Eventually, eleven tracks were recorded and the album was scheduled for release later in 2004.

Tim Bowness’ much-anticipated debut album My Hotel Year was released by One Little Indian in the second half of 2004  and was ostensibly an album of art rock that included elements of indie rock, experimental music and leftfield sounds. The album  was well received by critics but failed to make any impact on the UK charts. It was a disappointing start to Tim Bowness’ solo career, and it was another ten years before he returned with the followup.

Abandoned Dancehall Dreams.

Even then, the album might not have been made if it wasn’t for a problem with No-Man’s schedule. When their 2014 album was postponed, Tim Bowness decided he could use the songs for his sophomore solo album.

He knew he would have to rework the songs that eventually feared on Abandoned Dancehall Dreams. The recording sessions took place during 2013 and into 2014. Many parts of the original songs feature the album and so does his friend and partner in No-Man partner Steven Wilson, the rest of the No-Man live band, King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto and Porcupine Tree bassist Colin Edwin. As well as playing on the album, Steven Wilson also mixed Abandoned Dancehall Dreams.

Nearly ten years after releasing his debut album, Tim Bowness released Abandoned Dancehall Dreams on the ’23rd’ of June 2014. The album received positive reviews from the majority of music journalists, especially those specialising in progressive rock and rock. Critics were won over by album that combined elements of art pop and art rock as well as dream pop and progressive rock and reached number eighteen in the UK rock chart. This was progress for Tim Bowness and he soon began working on the followup album Stupid Things That Mean The World.

Stupid Things That Mean The World.

Later in 2014, returned to the studio and continued to work on his third album Stupid Things That Mean The World into 2015. He was joined by musical luminaries like Peter Hammill, Phil Manzanera, Pat Mastelotto, Colin Edwin and David Rhodes the former guitarist and vocalist in Random Hold who had spent the past thirty-five years working with Peter Gabriel. It was a multitalented and versatile band that recorded an album of art rock and progressive rock with Tim Bowness.

When Stupid Things That Mean The World was released on the ’17th’ of July 2015 critics were won over by Tim Bowness’ third album. Some felt that it was the finest album of his career and it was no surprise when it reached number ten in the UK Rock chart and nine in the new UK Progressive Rock chart. This meant that Stupid Things That Mean The World was the most successful album of Tim Bowness’ career.

Lost In The Ghost Light.

In autumn 2016, Tim Bowness returned to the studio to begin work on his fourth album Lost In The Ghost Light. He was joined by some familiar faces including Colin Edwin, David Rhodes and Stephen Bennett plus guest appearances by Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and Kit Watkins formerly of Camel and Happy The Man. In total, eight new songs were recorded for Lost In The Ghost Light.

Lost In The Ghost Light was released on the ‘17th’ of February 2017. It was a concept album based upon the backstage and onstage thoughts of an ageing musician. Critics called the album the finest album of Tim Bowness’ career. Record buyers agreed, and the album reached number five in the UK Rock chart and eight in the UK Progressive Rock chart. However, Tim Bowness’ fans wouldn’t have long until he released another album.

Songs From The Ghost Light.

In August 2017, he returned with Songs From The Ghost Light which was a companion album to Lost In The Ghost Light. It was another album of art rock and progressive rock that featured different versions of the tracks on Tim Bowness’ fourth album. Its release was welcomed by his fans who eagerly awaited his next album.

Flowers At The Scene.

Recording of what became Flowers At The Scene took place during 2018 and featured Peter Hammill, 10cc’s Kevin Godley, XTX’s Andy Partridge, Colin Edwin as well as Jim Matheos, David Longdon and Dylan Howe. A total of eleven Tim Bowness’ compositions were recorded and his fifth solo album was scheduled for release in early 2019.

When Flowers At The Scene was released on the ‘1st’ of March 2019 it was to widespread critical acclaim as Tim Bowness continued to combine art rock and progressive rock on what was without doubt the finest album of his career. This carefully crafted album reached number five in the UK Rock and UK Progressive Rock charts making Flowers At The Scene his most successful album. Tim Bowness’ career was going from strength to strength.

Late Night Laments.

Buoyed by the success of Flowers At The Scene Tim Bowness began work on his sixth album which eventually became Late Night Laments. He wrote nine new songs which he recorded with a tight and talented band.

This included drummer and percussionist Evan Carson, double bassist Colin Edwin and guitarist and backing vocalist Kavus Torabi. They were joined by Tom Atherton on vibes and backing vocalist Melanie Woods. Adding synths were Richard Barbieri, Alistair “The Curator” Murphy and Brian Hulse who also played keyboards and guitar and co-produced the album Tim Bowness. He played synths, ukulele and added FX and samples on Late Night Laments.

When Tim Bowness released Late Night Laments on the ‘29th’ of August 2020 critics were greeted with a very different album than previous releases. Gone were most of the rock influences of previous albums. Electric guitars still feature on the album but as part of carefully crafted arrangements. So were an acoustic guitar, double bass, ukulele and percussion. The sonic sorcerer also used less in the way of FX and eschewed traditional drums and sometimes deployed a synth bass and eighties keyboards. All instruments intertwine during slow and lush arrangements where there’s both an intensity and fragility to the music.

They also showcase a talented songwriter who tackles a variety of subjects on Late Night Laments. There’s a sense of melancholy as he deals with the subjects of loss, love and emotions during this soul-baring album.

Late Night Laments opens with Northern Rain which features a heartfelt and emotive vocal from Tim Bowness. He throws a curveball as he sings: “You’re laughing” before adding a twist in the tale adding: it’s “a laughter close to crying.”  The slow, moody arrangement is the perfect accompaniment to his vocal on this atmospheric and cinematic sounding track that brings about a sense of nostalgia and sadness as he sings “The world we knew is dying, and maybe that’s okay.” 

Straight away, there’s a sense of darkness on I’m Better Now which features a whispered, almost sinister vocal that are companied by harmonies. They’re best described as unconventional and compliment the vocal which becomes sinister and menacing as Tim Bowness sings about a domestic murder. He’s like an actor playing and the studio is his stage and he role and he plays his part to perfection.

Darkline features an unusual selection of instruments that includes vibes, drums and later, a synth guitar similar to  the one on Yes’ Owner Of A Lonely Heart. This carefully crafted arrangement that is sounds as if it’s paying homage to The Blue Nile is the perfect accompaniment to a tender, whispery and fragile vocal full of emotion and regret and despair. It’s like a confessional and is powerful and poignant.

We Caught The Light is another track with a slow, understated arrangement where a chiming guitar accompanies the deliberate vocal. It’s accompanied by vibes, double bass and later becomes heartfelt and impassioned as a backing vocalist adds the perfect accompaniment. Later, a bell chime and sci-fi sounds adds an atmospheric hue to this carefully crafted song about generational warfare.

Moody and cinematic describes the introduction to The Hitman Who Missed. It features one of Tim Bowness’ trademark vocals as a beautiful double bass plays a leading role and is augmented by vibes, subtle keyboards and harmonies as acoustic and electronic instruments unite to create the backdrop to this filmic track where Tim Bowness’ paints pictures with his lyrics. The result is another of the album’s highlights.

Understated, wistful and even dreamy describes Never A Place which features a rueful vocal from Tim Bowness. His vocal is full of emotion and sadness as memories come flooding back and he delivers the lyrics like a stream of consciousness on this heartachingly beautiful song that’s the highlight of the album.

Although several songs on the album have an understated sound,  the arrangement to The Last Getaway has been stripped bare. Just a ticking beat and a slow deliberate piano and wailing, weeping synths accompanies the vocal. Again, it has a confessional quality as generational Tim Bowness explains: “Life’s adventures drove me wild.”

The slow, spacious arrangement to Hidden Life has been pared back and only the essential parts remain. This results in an atmospheric backdrop that features eighties drums that slap as synths and keyboards combine to accompany another vocal that paints pictures of another side of life.

One Last Call which closes Late Night Laments was written after rereading John le Carré’s The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. He sang the song into his computer with the window open and the wind blowing as he tried to make sense of what he calls “flawed political and religious systems.” The next day overdubs were added to the song and one of the most beautiful songs on the album was complete.

Late Night Laments is quite different from Tim Bowness’ previous albums, and features atmospheric and lush arrangements that are slow sometimes spacious while other times there’s an intensity, fragility and sense of melancholy. These arrangements combine acoustic and synthetic instruments and often have a cinematic sound and provide the perfect backdrop for Tim Bowness’ vocals.

Sometimes, he’s like an actor as he plays a series of roles and often wears his heart on his sleeve as he delivers vocals full of  despair, hurt, sadness and regret, but on I’m Better it’s all change as he sounds menacing. Other times, the music is poignant, powerful and beautiful as Tim Bowness’ vocals are either soul-baring or confessionals on Late Night Laments which shows another side of singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer on his sixth album which is also one of his finest.

Tim Bowness-Late Night Laments.


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