Diary

Read Tim's diary entries here

Tuesday 31 March 2020

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One problem with very occasional blog writing, as I’ve just found out, is that the world can be in a very different place at the end of the process compared with where it was at the beginning.

I started this in January/February in the midst of a song-writing frenzy (well, 7 songs completed in a month) and ended it in lockdown in March.

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Welcome to ‘the year of living miserably’!

Following the dynamic duo of Flowers At The Scene and Love You To Bits, I’ve been writing more material for what will be a consistently atmospheric new solo album. Started in August – under the working of title of Late Night Laments – seven more new pieces have been written since the start of 2020 and a couple of unreleased older songs (that are unlikely to make the final album cut) have been re-worked in the style of the new songs.

The music differs wildly from Love You To Bits and also marks a departure from FATS. The overall approach is intimate while retaining the cinematic and widescreen production aspects of my previous Inside Out label solo albums. This is an album that’s been created ‘in the wee small hours’ and designed for late night (or headphone) listening.

As on FATS, my main musical collaborator and sounding board for Laments is Bob/Brian/Bobian Hulse. What’s been wonderful is that we’ve managed to create a cohesive soundworld for the new material without forcing anything or creating songs in a self-conscious way. There’s been an inspirational back and forth between the two of us that’s naturally pushed the music into some, hopefully, fresh territories. As with all the recent album projects, it’s developed an obsessive momentum and the biggest triumph is that I still feel compelled to write and still feel that I’m not yet repeating myself. Three of the stronger new songs feature the word ‘last’ in the title and there’s an emotional urgency in the music’s relaxed style that points to this being conceived as if it’s a final statement. The air of despair hangs heavy over the songs, which means the album is unlikely to grace any party playlists alongside Clean Bandit or Smokey. More’s the pity!

For me, the new music harks back to the 1980s and 1990s when I’d often only listen to music very late at night. During this time, albums like Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock, Nick Drake’s Pink Moon, Joni Mitchell’s Hejira, John Martyn’s One World, Peter Hammill’s And Close As This, David Sylvian’s Secrets Of The Beehive, Steve Reich’s Tehilim, Billie Holiday’s Lady In Satin, It’s Immaterial’s Song, Scott 3, The Songs Of Leonard Cohen, American Music Club’s Everclear, The Blue Nile’s Hats, Miles Davis’s In A Silent Way and countless others would be repeatedly played and they firmly imprinted themselves on my brain.

While the music is delivered in an intensely personal way, the lyrics are quite diverse and more often than not revolve around political or sociological issues.

12 brand new songs have been written and two old Plenty songs have been re-recorded. Out of this, its likely that I’ll opt for an 11 track, 46 minute album focusing solely on the new material (partly because of the consistency of tone and vision that they share).

Mixed by Maestro Wilson, production is by Bowness and Bobian, and guest performances have been delivered by regulars including Colin Edwin, Tom Atherton and Alistair Murphy, and newcomers such as Evan Carson, Kavus Torabi and Melanie Woods. Also of note is that my old sparring partner Richard Barbieri has provided some wonderful (and typically unique) synth solos on some of the songs.

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The Bowness / Chilvers album Modern Ruins is finally scheduled for release after three years in limbo.

Finished in 2017, the music was written over a period of 10 years, though about half of it was created in 2016. For me, it’s odd to think that it was put together at the same time as Lost In The Ghost Light (a very different proposition indeed). It’s also odd that it’s four albums old for me as its completion came before Plenty’s It Could Be Home, Flowers At The Scene, Love You To Bits and Late Night Laments. As such, for me it’s almost like a missive from another time.

As before, I feel it takes the spirit of California, Norfolk further and contains three of the strongest songs Peter and I have written together.

Talking of Lost In The Ghost Light, Worlds Of Yesterday the Moonshot compilation that I curated is definitely worth hearing for those of you of a more Progressive musical bent. The performances are uniformly excellent and the band have done an amazing job of accurately evoking the eras that the songs ostensibly come from.

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After years of off-hand mentions in interviews, the oft-discussed No-Man ‘Disco Symphony’ Love You To Bits finally made it’s way into the world in late November 2019. As many of you know, the seeds grew out of a song written in 1994 (around the time of the release of Flowermouth) that we returned to sporadically over a twenty year period. We always knew what we wanted to achieve with it, but the song either seemed out of step with where No-Man was at or appeared beyond our abilities at the time. Being both ambitious and accessible, for me the finished album represents aspects of no-man at its very best.

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Fortunately, the sales and critical reception for both Flowers At The Scene and Love You To Bits were positive and built on where Lost In The Ghost Light left off in 2017. FATS getting recognised in both the critic’s and reader’s polls in Prog magazine was very pleasing indeed. As always, thanks for the continuing support.

Stay safe!

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2019 Favourites (belated!)

1) John Luther Adams – Become Desert
2) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Ghosteen
3) Thom Yorke – Anima
4) Cate le Bon – Reward
5) The Who – WHO
6) Leonard Cohen – Thanks For The Dance
7) Brian Eno/Roger Eno/Daniel Lanois – For All Mankind
8) Isildurs Bane & Peter Hammill – In Amazonia
9) The Specials – Encore
10) Baby Bird – Photosynthesis
11) Richard Dawson – 2020
12) Angel Olsen – All Mirrors

Lockdown Listening

John Luther Adams – Become Ocean (2014) / Become Desert (2019)
Richard Barbieri – Planets + Persona (2017)
David Bowie – Conversation Piece (2019)
The Cure – Disintegration (1989)
Nick Drake – Pink Moon (1974)
Jethro Tull – Stormwatch (40th Anniversary Edition) (1979)
David Lang – Pierced (2008)

8th September 2019

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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.

Yippee ki-yay!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Farewell!

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Listening

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)

Reading

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)

13 Feb 2019

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Solo album #5 is now ready and about to make its way into the wider world. As mentioned in several interviews, Flowers At The Scene feels like something of a necessary refreshing of the palette. At the very least, it’s a decisive move away from the long-form conceptual nature of Lost In The Ghost Light, which was an album that always felt like a satisfying end in itself.

FATS is a collection of 11 quite different songs with 11 totally unrelated lyrics that all seem to possess a cinematic short story quality. For the first time since Returning Jesus, there’s no overriding theme and no overriding concept, yet Flowers At The Scene still feels very much like an album.

When I’m making albums, I always record what I want to while also trying to view the project from a more objective external perspective. I’ve always preferred the ‘classic’ 38-45 minute album statement. Partly because I think that length suits the intensity of music like mine and partly because I think it provides discipline and structure that enhances the overall listening experience. I’d rather be left wanting more than feeling drained. The CD age ushered in albums that were far too long (for the sake of filling available space) and streaming has cultivated even longer albums (because it can), as well as a more pronounced emphasis on singles, mixes and EPs.

Beyond multiple alternate versions of pieces, Flowers At The Scene had two songs dropped from the final track list. One – Beyond The Firing Line – was arguably as strong as anything else on the album. It’s an ambitious and atmospheric piece with some great contributions from the likes of Adam Holzman, Peter Hammill and Colin Edwin. On reflection, it felt too similar to one of the other pieces on the album so out it went. The other outtake – Newblood – is the shortest and most obviously ‘Pop’ piece I’ve come up with since no-man’s Only Baby. The horror, the horror!

As a fan of the 1980s vinyl single – short Pop song on one side and experimental piece on the other – at some point this year I’m intending to release a 7” vinyl single with CD featuring the two outtakes.

Be afraid.

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no-man finally got together to complete an album in Autumn. Over three days and late evenings, SW and I participated in the most immersive and enjoyable session since the early days of the band.

We traded ideas and just got on with trying to realise them with no external distractions. As is always the case, the ideas ended up taking us somewhere unexpected. The resulting album is something that’s 100% no-man – in terms of its mood, atmospheres and collection of disparate influences – while being completely unlike any previous no-man release.

Recording is currently ongoing and we’re hoping for a late 2019 release.

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Playing the Summer’s End festival in October was a great experience for the T-Bo band. The Booker Boy / John ‘JJ’ Jowitt rhythm section were on astonishing (almost elastic) form while Maestro Bingham played like a fiddler possessed.

The main thrill, however, was being able to perform to a genuinely attentive and responsive audience. A 12 minute whisper to a scream version of Days Turn Into Years provided my personal highlight.

2019 will see the band playing in quite a few places over Europe (several we’ve never been to before).

Be very afraid.

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2018 Favourites

These are in alphabetical order rather than order of preference.

If I had to choose a winner it would be Eric Chenaux’s Slowly Paradise. Eric has an incredibly sweet and soulful voice that contrasts beautifully with some extreme guitar textures/playing. Imagine Terry Callier singing gently over Derek Bailey free form experiments or Nick Drake crooning atop a more organic/acoustic My Bloody Valentine.

New releases:

David Byrne – American Utopia
Bernice – Puff: In The Air Without A Shape
The Caretaker – Everywhere At The End Of Time (Stage 4)
Eric Chenaux – Slowly Paradise
Julia Holter – Aviary
Paul McCartney – Egypt Station
Joshua Redman – Still Dreaming
Steve Reich – Pulse / Quartet
Suede – The Blue Hour
Thumpermonkey – Make Me Young Etc
Joshua Trinidad – In November
Devon Welsh – Dream Songs

Reissues:

The Beatles – The Beatles / The Esher Demos (50th Anniversary Edition)
David Bowie – Welcome To The Blackout (Live London ’78)
Kate Bush – Remastered Back Catalogue
The Carpenters – Carpenters With The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Alice Coltrane – The Ecstatic Music Of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda
John Coltrane – Both Directions At Once – The Lost Album
Eric Dolphy – Musical Prophet: The Expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions
The Durutti Column – Without Mercy (Deluxe Edition)
The Flaming Lips – Greatest Hits Vol 1
John Foxx – Metamatic (Deluxe Edition)
Rush – Hemispheres (40th Anniversary)
Jethro Tull – Heavy Horses (New Shoes Version)
Frank Sinatra – Only The Lonely (60th Anniversary Edition)
David Sylvian – Dead Bees On A Cake (Deluxe vinyl)
This Mortal Coil – It’ll End In Tears
Pete Townshend – Who Came First (Deluxe Edition)
Yes – Fly From Here (Return Trip)

August 26, 2018

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A gap and then some! This constitutes the second blog entry this year and only the third over an eighteen month period. Below, find some reasons for my protracted ‘slow blog’ absence.

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Work is now complete on T-Bo solo album number five. It feels very much like I’ve pressed reset and, in some ways, has the air of an exciting debut release about it.

Produced by me, Steven Wilson and Brian Hulse, 13 pieces were assembled and though inevitably there’s a suicidal ballad or four in the mix, it’s perhaps the most eclectic and accessible collection of pieces I’ve put together since no-man’s mid-1990s output.

Feeling a little like a re-awakening, it reconnects with elements of my early work while also stretching out into new territories (for me). Overall, it’s the boldest album I’ve made for some time and notably re-introduces the bittersweet early no-man quality of combining uplifting music with downbeat sentiments.

Abandoned Dancehall Dreams logically emerged out of Schoolyard Ghosts and Stupid Things was an extension of the possibilities ADD suggested. Lost In The Ghost Light took an element of the preceding albums – the epic Smiler At 50 – and blew it up into a unified album experience. By comparison, the new album has nothing in common with Lost In The Ghost Light and little that echoes aspects of ADD or Stupid Things.

Other than the dynamic duo of SW and Colin Edwin, I’m working with an entirely new team of collaborators. Virgin solo album contributors include Brian Hulse, James Matheos, Ian Dixon (the brilliant trumpet player on no-man’s Returning Jesus), Alistair ‘Curator’ Murphy (strings) and master drummers Tom Atherton and Dylan Howe.

The superstar guest slots are taken up by Peter Hammill (providing some superbly biting backing vocals, plaintive piano and off-kilter guitar), XTC’s Andy Partridge, Big Big Train’s David Longdon (backing vocals and flute) and one of my earliest musical heroes, Kevin Godley (10cc / Godley & Creme).

Elsewhere Adam Holzman has provided a gloriously impressionistic Wurlitzer part and Plenty bassist David K Jones has recorded three fine performances (including his truly wild debut on double bass).

It feels like an honour to be in such company on such good form.

As always, the fifty two minutes of new material has been whittled down to a classic album length of around 43 minutes and, as always, the process of eliminating songs and creating the optimum running order has been an obsession for me. The quality of the cutting room floor songs is unusually strong, with one piece being a showcase for Kevin Godley’s rich and mournful voice and another including some of the best playing on the project.

If Lost In The Ghost Light was a coherent summation of a very particular and intentionally archaic approach to sound and composition, the new album – likely to be called Flowers At The Scene – is closer to Brian Eno’s description of the Roxy Music debut, which he felt presented as many possible future directions for the band as there were songs.

The release date is looking as if it’ll be exactly two years after LITGL (in February 2019). The waiting for this will seem interminable.

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One of my favourite songs on the new album came out of my teaching ukulele chords and demonstrating studio overdubbing to Bowness Jr.

Finding a pattern I liked, I improvised a song called Lost Quiff (at the age of 7, Bowness Jr is preoccupied with that most contemporary of genres Rock’n’Roll and worships at the altars of Elvis, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent and many others).

The song quickly evolved into something else and the album’s most unlikely source of inspiration was found.

The father / son demo of Lost Quiff – a poignant tale that crosses continents – shall remain on the hard drive of doom!

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As mentioned previously, Bowness / Chilvers 2.0 was completed a year ago. For a variety of reasons, we’re still thinking of what to do with it and when to unleash it upon the world. The only certainties are that time will pass and tears will be shed!

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Despite featuring all too familiar material and being typically difficult to organise, the T-Bo band God Is An Astronaut support at the Brixton Electric in May was an unexpectedly emotional and powerful performance.

John Jowitt – in his first show with the band – was confident, assured and a great visual and musical addition. By God, he even looked like he was enjoying himself (a first for any of us!). Andrew Booker’s playing was as good as I’ve ever heard it – constantly finding new ways of delivering old songs – and the rest of us (me, Professor Bearpark and Baron Bennett) responded in kind by frequently changing our parts.

The audience response was incredibly encouraging, but regardless of the positives I felt out of place and out of sorts on the night. As soon as I walked on the stage, I wanted to walk off it.

The Summer’s End Festival appearance in October is all that’s left on the live agenda and may mark the last time this version of the band – albeit with the wonderful Maestro Bingham added to the cast – plays live together. (Or not.)

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Just to see if it could work if required, the Plenty trio convened – in the Woolley Valley near Bath – to make a collective noise for the first time in 30 years.

Initially, it was surreal going through ancient material in much the same way we used to. The approach echoed the Plenty of old and the early no-man, in that backing tapes were used and, consequently, no error in timing was allowed. Improvisation was also strictly forbidden. After a couple of run-throughs everything became more natural and the band sound re-emerged. On the final run-through, there were more than a few special moments.

Whatever it was we had was still there and whatever it was we had was different from the later incarnations of no-man or the T-Bo live band.

Before, after and during the rehearsals, we’ve been recording songs for a follow up to It Could Be Home. Featuring a more organic sound – plus drummer Charles Grimsdale – the music has opened up in some surprising ways. The 1980s well of songs hasn’t run dry (yet).

Talking of which, while clearing my house for an upcoming move, I accidentally found the very first Bowness / Hulse song from the Summer of 1986. A John le Carré inspired ‘Cold War ballad’ called This Side Of The Border, I’d remembered it existed while others doubted my sanity. I’d always loved The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, but could I really have written a song so directly inspired by it? As it turns out, yes I really could.

Written at the same time as Towards The Shore – on an old school piano – both songs represented the best things I’d done up to that point. However, between those – still worthwhile to me – songs and Forest Almost Burning (in early 1987), my rare tape discovery suggested we were creatively adrift for six months or so (recording awkward A Better Mousetrap style versions of After The Stranger songs and even more awkward ATS style takes on ABM pieces).

A day after it’s rediscovery, This Side Of The Border was re-recorded with Plenty 2 in mind. It remains a favourite song for me and, due to its lyrical theme, a genuine outsider in relation to my other work.

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Recent sessions have included singing a duet (in the magnificent Real World Studios) with David Longdon on Big Big Train’s lovely Seen Better Days, performing an atmospheric version of This City for Twelfth Night, and writing new pieces with Italian collaborators of old Saro Cosentino and Stefano Panunzi (both lusher than lush).

Recent highlights have included meeting up with Pete Morgan and Baron Bennett at Ian Anderson’s rather impressive abode. IA was courteous and talkative and it was great to finally meet him outside of a more pressured back stage environment. Following the Tull tales, the Bowness / Morgan / Bennett trio of reprobates had an all too rare coffee and chat catch-up.

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Toodle pip!

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Listening:

A Certain Ratio – Sextet (1982)
Bernice – Puff: In The Air Without A Shape (2018)
Blood Sweat And Tears – 3 (1969)
David Bowie – Welcome To The Blackout (1978)
Chromatics – Kill For Love (2012)
Ian Dury And The Blockheads – Do It Yourself (1979)
Elvis Costello – Spike (1989)
Dylan Howe – Subterranean (2014)
Johnny Jewel – Windswept (2017)
Majical Cloudz – Wait And See (2016)
Protomartyr – Relatives In Descent (2017)
Joshua Redman – Still Dreaming (2018)
Joshua Trinidad – In November (2018)
Steely Dan – Gaucho (1980)
Yes – Fly From Here – Return Trip (2018)

Reading:

Elizabeth Taylor – Mrs Palfrey At The Claremont (1971)
Philip Roth – Everyman (2006)
Derek Taylor – As Time Goes By (1973)

1st January 2018

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Happy New Year and thanks to everyone who’s supported my music over the past 12 months.

2017 was a great year for Lost In The Ghost Light which gained the most reviews and sales of any of my work outside of no-man. The album’s artwork winning a Prog Award and live performances at the Marillion Weekend, IB Expo and Birmingham’s Blue Orange Theatre were also memorable and enjoyable experiences during the year.

Amongst other things, I have two albums prepared for 2018 release and some festival dates arranged (tba).

In some ways, the Plenty album – called It Could Be Home – is a debut release 30 years after the event. Despite this, it’s been a fresh and exciting project to work on and the end result is extremely satisfying and uplifting. The band has been writing songs since the album was completed, so hopefully a follow-up will take less than 30 years to finish! It Could Be Home will be released on Norwegian label Karisma in late March.

The Tim Bowness/Peter Chilvers album has recently been mixed by the wonderful Mr Peter Hammill and is certainly a step beyond California, Norfolk: Intimate, bleak and, hopefully, beautiful in places. Release date and label tba.

Outside of this, I’ve been rehearsing with the superb bassist James Eller (The The / Julian Cope) and the talented Toby Marks (Banco De Gaia). We’ve been writing music spontaneously and may decide to release some of the results in the future.

Here’s hoping that the frequently discussed new no-man album is also a possibility for the year ahead.

Some releases I liked in 2017 (in alphabetical order):

Big Big Train – Grimspound
Benjamin Clementine – I Tell A Fly
Ray Davies – Americana
Mark Eitzel – Hey, Mr Ferryman
Elbow – Little Fictions
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Samuel Hallkvist – Variety Of Rhythm
Peter Hammill – From The Trees
The Horrors – V
Morrissey – Low In High School
Randy Newman – Dark Matter
Max Richter – Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
Sparks – Hippopatamus
Thundercat – Drunk
The War on Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
Roger Waters – Is This The Life We Really Want?
Devon Welsh – Down The Mountain
Steven Wilson – To The Bone

The magnificent 50th Anniversary Sgt Peppers reissue also deserves a mention and it was great to see A Certain Ratio’s excellent back catalogue getting re-promoted on the Mute label.