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No-Man - Loveblows & Lovecries - A Confession CD (album) cover

LOVEBLOWS & LOVECRIES - A CONFESSION

No-Man

 

Psychedelic/Space Rock

2.94 | 45 ratings

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tszirmay
Special Collaborator
Crossover Team
3 stars It is often very helpful when the packaging of a recording can actually help in defining the "pleasures inside", which presumably made famous names like Hypgnosis, Roger Dean, Peter Cross, Paul Whitehead, Hugh Syme etc.. Well the artwork for No-Man's Loveblows & Lovecries-A Confession" is nothing fancy but the comments on the back reveal themselves to be prophetic. It's" a magical mixture of dream Pop, Art Rock and Moody Minimalism". No-Man is defined as "sex, violins and a tale to tell" and they certainly managed to create quite a steady progressive career, manned by Steve Wilson and Tim Bowness with a slew of famous and infamous guests. This is a 90s record which means that the criticism of the "dance + trance" style drumming is adroit but sign of the times (Cicero's "O Tempora O mores"comes to mind) , so get on with it because the music is truly top-notch albeit closer to art-rock pop than outright prog. Ben Coleman's violin certainly provides that proggy element with afew poignant interventions throughout but when ex-Japan members Mick Karn (of fretless bass wobble fame), drummer Steve Jansen and future Tree partner Richard Barbieri (soooo that's how they met?) infuse some of their craftwork (Kraftwerk?) then this can only be interesting.

There are some first rate tracks here like the sumptuous "Only Baby", a riveting dream pop ride with a colossal mellotron driven chorus to shiver for, even though the dance drum programming is a tad tough to enjoy. Bowness' voice affects in the finest Ferry/Sylvian/ Kerr/Hadley/Ure/Gahan/Marsh tradition, toweling down the sweaty romantic tears with melancholic disdain. Some will like, others hate but there is a lot to enjoy. "Housekeeping" is pensive electronica, synths oozing wistfully in the background and aching vocals with a deranged guitar foray drowning in psychedelic euphoria. "Sweetheart Raw" is a major highlight as Mick Karn weaves his burping magic (my goodness, he is so creative on the fretless bass!), a shuffling Jansen rhythm and an almost neurotic demeanor that blooms into serious overblown angst a la Bowie. "Lovecry" is closer to Roxy Music but loaded to the gills with various oboe-like effects from Wilson's synths, another dreamy track that flows nicely. "Tulip" is a fore bearer of their upcoming style, in a more minimalist setting with sporadic slashes of gypsy violin, whistling flute synth solos and loopy keyboard bass patterns, very chill indeed. The 7 minute "Taking it Like a Man" is more upbeat and diverse, with a chugging rhythmic pace, almost dance floor fare, but with a surreal tendency towards unconformity by tossing in brief touches of dissonance. "Break Heaven" sounds like a The Beloved track, full of progressive groove electronics and celestial feel, atmospheric to the hilt, destroyed half way by a white noise guitar blast. Very cool indeed! "Beautiful and Cruel" sounds almost like a companion track to the previous gem, just "crying in the morning, screaming without warning", floating along nicely. Two seven minute sagas then ensue: "Days in the Trees: Mahler" with its sweeping extended violin reverie, weaving over the infected trance, almost pastoral with clear impressions of spring follies among the branches and leaves. The theme grows in stature and volume increasingly and is highly cinematographic, ending on an ambient passage that really blows the mind, segueing into the next extended piece "Painting Paradise" , which at first displays some wondrous Roxy Music characteristics , then diving into some zipping electro- beats, searing synths that are seemingly "moving closer", pulsating wildly and senselessly , "speak lower when you speak loud", a tortured wah guitar attack stirs the passion even more and a final violin caress. "Heaven's Break" (very cute , Stevo!) is romantic electro-ambient pop that ends the disc on a positive.

This is not a masterpiece or even the best No-Man release but it has its moments and is obviously the harbinger of things to come.

3.5 tears and slaps

tszirmay | 3/5 |

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