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Tim Bowness - Abandoned Dancehall Dreams CD (album) cover

ABANDONED DANCEHALL DREAMS

Tim Bowness

 

Crossover Prog

3.79 | 111 ratings

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GruvanDahlman
4 stars Whenever I travel I like to visit at least one record store. I am a nut for owning albums. MP3:s and Itunes galore but nothing beats the real deal. So, standing there, feverishly, in a record store in Düsseldorf, holding a Grobschnitt album in my hand, I stumble across Tim Bowness' "Abandonded dancehall dreams". I have to admit I knew almost nothing of the man, only having read the odd review on PA but when my eyes wandered across the sections in the store and seeing it there, I knew I had to have it. Something called out inside of me. And thus ends the first part of this review.

The thing about this album is that it is a piece of melancholy, steeped in gentleness and atmosphere focusing on loss and longing. The outbursts of heavier sounds are sparse in numbers and could be easily counted for those inclined to do so. Overall the album is a tapestry of warmth and sorrow, which may sound a bit heavy but it isn't. I would rather proclaim it very enjoyable and moving, not overly complex but rather accessible in a progressive kind of way.

The opener "Warm-up man" acts a great introduction to what has proven an increasingly worthwhile album. "Warm-up man" is one of those more action-packed songs as far as music is concerned. It is a really good song though it is the coming ones that really puts the finger on the album's greatness. "Smiler at 50" is probably my favorite of the lot. One of the two really long tracks it holds two distinctly different sections. The first being very mellow, atmospheric and thought provoking in both lyric and musical tone, the second is an outburst which perfectly fits the glove of this track. Together the sections balances a song of outstanding beauty and ultimately power. Equally good is "Songs of distant summers", though it holds no outburst in the vein of the previous track. Sheer beauty and mellowness.

The next track is interesting and quite different to the other tracks with it's folky approach. "Waterfoot" is a very moving piece, fitting to the context of the album. "Dancing for you" holds a wonderfully emotional guitar solo. That song gives me the feeling of flowing in a non gravitational space. I just have to close my eyes and I am able to touch the stars of our universe. (Ramble on, why don't you.) Well, it's true. The keyboards are outstanding aswell.

"Smiler at 52" and the ending " Beaten by love" are great tracks aswell but of the last few tracks "I fought against the South" is the best. It is built in a similar way to "Smiler at 50" with a soft, beautiful opening and a very powerful ending section, complete with a screaming violin. Exquisite!

The voice of Tim Bowness is gentle and holds a certain timbre of great pleasantness. His voice really suits the narrative approach to the lyrics, making it feel like an orchestrated reading. (I must point out that Bowness sings, not speaks. Just to clear any misunderstandings.) Musically it is performed in a flawless way, fitting the stories perfectly. Steven Wilson, probably the foremost crusader of contemporary prog, appears on the album and delivers some fine guitar playing.

When standing there in Düsseldorf I found the deluxe edition of "Abandoned dance hall dreams" with an extra disc of bonus material. I do not always think that the bonus material is all that interesting. Sometimes it even bores me, as is the case with the second disc of Transatlantic's "Kaleidoscope". In this case it is different. The bonus material is really interesting. In particular this is true of the title track, not appearing on the album itself. It baffles me, since it is a very emotive piece with a crackling musical setting, reminding of lacklustre dancehalls and bars, filled with ever hopeful but sad people. It would really have suited the original album but there you go. "The sweetest bitter pill", reminding slightly of The Verve, is drenched in mellotron and very good. The bonus tracks are obviously not substandard throw-aways, rather discarded on other grounds. I think, overall, that it may have been a good step to take, making the "original" album a more concise and powerful statement.

My rating will be based solely on the first disc of the album, since I believe that is the true proclamation of Bowness' artistic integrity. The bonus tracks are simply the colorful candles on the birthday cake. So, as a concluding note on the subject I must say that this is a terrific album of great emotions and soundscapes. I discover new things as I go along and believe this album will stay with me for quite some time. I will rate it with four brightly shining stars.

GruvanDahlman | 4/5 |

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