The seven month gap between diary entries has been taken up with the release of solo album #5, a mini-tour, recording for no-man’s forthcoming studio release, and – most recently – the start of what may very well be solo album #6.
In terms of recording, the first part of this year was spent re-singing the vocals for no-man’s new album and adding guest musicians to the framework SW and I had come up with in October 2018.
Bringing professionalism and skills aplenty to the table, Ash Soan, Adam Holzman, David Kollar and the Dave Desmond Brass Quintet greatly enhanced the energy and texture of what was already there, while Bruno Ellingham – known for his work with Massive Attack, amongst many others – provided the final mixes and particularly enhanced the dynamics and rhythms.
Without giving a great deal away, the album feels definitively no-man while being completely unlike anything we’ve released previously. Consisting of two long (lyrically and compositionally related) pieces, in some ways the album is the logical follow-up to Flowermouth that Wild Opera wasn’t (albeit a follow up filtered through two and half decades of accumulated experiences and influences).
The opening section of the core piece – Love You To Bits – was written in the Summer of 1994 (around the time of Flowermouth’s release) and the original idea for what we wanted to do emerged around that time as well. As it better represented the way we were feeling by the end of 1994 (bad!!), the more aggressive and spontaneous Wild Opera material took over and became our focus. As a result, Love You To Bits remained on the no-man back burner, occasionally being added to but mostly being ignored and never feeling quite right for inclusion on any of our subsequent releases.
Once we took the decision to complete LYTB in late 2018, ideas flowed and it finally became what we’d always wanted it to be. As with Lighthouse, Angel Gets Caught In The Beauty Trap and Days In The Trees, this was a piece many years in the making, but as a lot of writing and the majority of recording has been done over the last year (particularly on the second piece) the album also feels fresh.
For me, what we’ve come up with is exciting and unexpected. It’s also something that needs to be listened to as a whole (it evolves in a way wholly unanticipated by the beginning) and as they always used to say on records, ‘loud’. As with Flowers At The Scene, only more so, I have no idea what the reaction to the album will be and at this stage of my music making that’s a good thing.
The late 2019 release is still on.
Due to work on the no-man album and the recent live dates, I had the longest period of not writing in some years. From October 2018 to August 2019, I spent time recording and re-writing music, but didn’t come up with any new material that could be added to my bulging ‘hard drive of doom’.
Over the last month I’ve written and co-written six songs – just over half an album’s worth of material – plus several instrumental fragments that might end up being used somewhere. Emerging in an unforced way and pretty much out of nowhere, it’s been a relief to know that I still feel compelled to write and an even greater relief that what’s been written is a departure from both Flowers At The Scene and no-man’s forthcoming album.
The song that kickstarted the process – One Last Call – shares something of the atmospheric desolation of What Lies Here, though it has a very different sound and is conceptually a world away.
Lyrically and musically the new pieces are strongly related and the mood and soundscapes are deliberately limited, and very coherent as a result. As with FATS, my chief collaborator on these pieces is Bobian Hulse. Elsewhere, those mighty fine critters John Jowitt and Tom Atherton have been adding parts.
Working title, Late Night Laments.
Flowers At The Scene was released in March to possibly the best reviews and definitely the best chart positions of any of my albums. A genuine and pleasing surprise.
The album felt like a new beginning and being so different from Lost In The Ghost Light, it was difficult to know what the response might be.
Feeling somewhat like no-man’s early work – in that it presented several directions my music could possibly take in the future – it was truly gratifying that FATS seemed to connect with an audience.
Thanks to those of you who bought the album.
Bar the ‘funeral in Berlin’, all the live dates were enjoyable with Wroclaw and London being highlights – for very different reasons – and The Night Of The Prog a suitably grand finale. At the latter, Gary Kemp and Saucerful Of Secrets were great company and performed the early work of Pink Floyd (a little-known beat combo I’m rather partial to) with genuine enthusiasm and flair.
Bobian Hulse’s return to the stage after a 31 year absence was a roaring success. The bow-tied Beau Brummel cut a dash, while John Jowitt’s addition to the band continued to pay dividends both musically and in terms of his powerful stage presence.
A big thank you to everyone who attended the shows and an avalanche of pats on the back to Graham Harris and Nellie ‘Lady Nellington’ Pitts for their help.
It was an honour to be in Prog magazine’s centenary issue list of Prog icons. Even though what I do doesn’t operate within recognisable Prog Rock styles (bar Lost In The Ghost Light and Henry Fool, perhaps), the magazine – which has an admirably eclectic musical scope – has been very supportive of my music since its inception and I remain extremely grateful for it.
Anil Prasad managed to extract a War And Peace sized interview out of me earlier this year. Thinking about it, maybe that’s why I didn’t find the time to write any new songs for the first eight months of the year! As always, Anil got some things out of me that I’ve never shared in interviews (the redacted version had far more).
I think that the section near the end – regarding the current state of the music industry – does hit on issues rarely openly discussed and I’d suggest people who haven’t seen it take a read. Audiences don’t owe musicians a living (though most even well-known musicians struggle to make a living via music alone these days), but I think it’s worth considering the repercussions of the future the current industry model is dictating and may define for decades to come. In short – and I accept that this may just be natural selection in action – the sort of music that inspired and inspires me is at risk of disappearing altogether. Given the state of the world politically and environmentally I realise this is a very First World problem, but as someone who still considers music important I think it’s worth fighting for.
Here it is https://www.innerviews.org/inner/tim-bowness
This will be the final diary entry formatted by my long-term webmaster Tony Kinson, who’s been a great help in sympathetically promoting my music for many years (his no-man – a confession… site was an excellent resource).
I’d like to thank Tony for all his creative input and assistance over the last decade and a half, and also introduce Rob Skarin (one half of the wonderful Crystal Spotlight) who’ll be taking over my web activities from this point onwards.
Babybird – Photosynthesis (2019)
Be Bop Deluxe – Futurama (1975)
Cate Le Bon – Reward (2019)
Johnny Cash – American IV – The Man Comes Around (2002)
Dead Can Dance – Anastasis (2012) / Dionysus (2018)
B Eno / R Eno / Lanois – Apollo (1983/2019)
Richie Havens – Richard P Havens, 1983 (1969)
Shuggie Otis – Inspiration Information (1974)
Pere Ubu – The Long Goodbye (2019)
Prefab Sprout / Paddy McAloon – I Trawl The Megahertz (2003)
Bill Pritchard – Midland Lullabies (2019)
Queen – News Of The World (1977) / Jazz (1978)
Klaus Schulze – Mirage (1977)
Labi Siffre – The Last Songs (1998)
The Specials – Encore (2019)
Swans – The Burning World (1989)
Eberhard Weber – The Following Morning (1977)
Yes – Close To The Edge (1972)
Stan Barstow – The Human Element and Other Stories (1970)
John Le Carre – Call for the Dead (1961) / The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (1963) / A Legacy of Spies (2017)
Roger McGough – joinedupwriting (2019)
Brian Patten – The Book Of Upside Down Thinking (2018)
Claudia Rankine – Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (2004) / Citizen: An American Lyric (2015)
Crystal Zevon – I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Life and Times of Warren Zevon (2008)