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No-Man - Returning Jesus CD (album) cover



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5 stars This is one of the best kept secrets in music today. This is my first encounter with No Man, and although a little skeptical to begin with, this album has blown my mind! All the songs have something new and interesting to offer, and whilst not being 'catchy' in the annoying pop sense, I often find myself humming a tune from this album. Close Your Eyes is just amazing and for me the best song on the album. I have ticked Highly Recommended, but if there was a higher rating I'd have ticked that! Get it now, you will not be disappointed.
Report this review (#18229)
Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2003 | Review Permalink
Dan Bobrowski
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Interesting, dreamy, delicately intricate. Lots of low key descriptors would fit. No thrashing on this. Steve Wilson's waves of brilliant mellotron, Tim Bowness' angelic voice , as well as the sweetly accented horn playing of Ian Carr and Ian Dixon. Steve Jansen provides a percussive backdrop for a seductive mix sure to make you light a candle and set the lights to low.

Fans of SW's more ambient nature will LOVE this. It'll also appeal to David Sylvian fans.

Report this review (#18230)
Posted Friday, February 27, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars I feel inner warmth every time I hear the music of English band NO-MAN. It's sooths my soul and ease my pain. It's like a cool breeze on a hot summer day. No-one is a progressive two men pop band consisting of the two PORCUPINE TREE members Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson. Tim Bowness vocals are gently and it softly touches your consciousness. His voice is a blend of Hugh Cornwell (ex. STRANGLERS), Paddy McAloon (PREFAB SPROUT) and David Sylvian and the music is as dreamy as any Angelo Badalamenti composition. It's hard to describe the beauty of the music, but mentioning the quieter moments of David Sylvian is close at hands, blended with some soft jazz. The jazz influences are much because of Ian Carr's (NUCLEUS) magnificent trumpet playing. Jesus has returned in the shape of NO-MAN. Highly recommended!
Report this review (#18231)
Posted Tuesday, March 2, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of Steven Wilson's and Tim Bowness' strongest albums.

Featuring the lingering atmospheric beauty of the string-drenched opener Only Rain and the electronic strangeness of the title track, Returning Jesus makes for a mighty fine prelude to the even more delicate and ambitious Together We're Stranger.

There are elements of the likes of Talk Talk, David Sylvian and Pink Floyd that inform the album's sound, but the diversity and intensity of this music is all No-Man's.

Report this review (#56204)
Posted Sunday, November 13, 2005 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This is probably my favourite NO-MAN record.

There's some good variety on this one, and i couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that Ian Carr was playing trumpet on the first track "Only Rain". Ian Carr was the leader of the legendary band NUCLEUS, which was one of the first Jazz / Fusion bands and one of my favourites as well. There is some good synths on this atmospheric song as well. "No Defence" features more trumpet and some good guitar in the background. "Close Your Eyes" is a terrific song with percussion throughout and an abundance of flugelhorn.

"Carolina Skeletons" i'm sure is known to some from the EP it was previously released on 3 years before. Great tune. "Outside The Machine" features some jazzy drum work, and is an ok song.The title track takes some time to grow on you but it will. "Slow It All Down" is a great instrumental with sax courtesy of Theo Travis, some more flugelhorn and synths. "Lighthouse" is one of the best NO-MAN songs ever, it's PORCUPINE TREE sounding with some beautiful flute and organ. "All That You Are" is another amazing tune. It has such a full sound.

Report this review (#101756)
Posted Tuesday, December 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've really not been looking forward to this review, as I can't make up my mind about this album.

"Slow it all down", BOWNESS sings on 'Returning Jesus', and they do. This album is almost completely devoid of any dance sensibilities, being rather a collection of ambient and minimalist ballads. Any slower and they'd be going backwards. NO-MAN was once layers of rich sound backing BOWNESS's laconic vocals: now the music is as laconic as the words.

The consensus among reviewers is that 'Returning Jesus' is one of NO-MAN's strongest - if not the strongest - album. Not for me. I've tried to pin down exactly why, given the delicate soundscapes WILSON and BOWNESS gift us with, , but I suspect it's nothing more than paling by comparison to 'Flowermouth' and 'Together We're Stranger'.

The opening two tracks pass by without a murmur of interest. They seem barely alive. It's not until 'Close Your Eyes' that I find myself captured: what a beautiful track, simple but with a lovely recurring three-note motif and (yes, yes, yes, he cried) a slow build of the sort I'd feared we'd never see again from this band. 'Carolina Skeletons' is an excellent single, all bones and elbows, but we've already seen both these tracks two years previously. 'Outside the Machine' is worthwhile without being spectacular, the music little more than a framework for BOWNESS's message of rejection: "I don't need you." 'Returning Jesus' and 'Slow it all Down' are really one track, forming the gracious, shimmering core of the album, followed by 'Lighthouse', my favourite track here. Interestingly, this was in existence in demo form in 1994 - and it shows. Would have been right at home on 'Flowermouth' or even 'The Sky Moves Sideways'. In fact, I think I hear THE ORB in there somewhere too. 'All That You Are', a beautiful single, closes the album. Oddly, this single was not released until after the next album.

So lots of good stuff. Some great stuff even. Why am I so uneasy then?

See, by now PORCUPINE TREE had evolved from a self-confessed joke band through space-rock to an increasingly tight crossover prog band, a real player on the global stage. NO-MAN was the poor relation. Listening to this album, I have the feeling that we don't get as much of STEVEN WILSON as we have the right to expect. Certainly not given these songs were up to seven years in the making. Kudos for WILSON for not abandoning the project, especially in the light of what was to come, but I can't help wondering what he might have made of some of these tracks had this still been his main project. Perhaps they'd be exactly the same.

It doesn't make sense, but unaccountably, every time I reach the end of this album, I feel disappointed. A curmudgeonly three stars, though my head tells me it's worth four. No, I've changed my mind. Four stars. Too beautiful for three.

Report this review (#144926)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars After the more dance and trip-hop oriented album Wild Opera, Returning Jesus revisited the style and sound of Flowermouth, meaning balladry sadness extended with soft jazz elements and mildly progressive and ambient influences.

Returning Jesus was one of the first No-Man albums that came under the attention of the growing numbers of Porcupine Tree fans in 2001 but it didn't seem to appeal massively. Also for me it hasn't been a stable love affair. Just as on Flowermouth there are stellar moody rock songs such as the opening track Only Rain, but those songs have to indulge the presence of lesser ballads such No Defense and Caronlina Skeletons

As with most No-man's albums Tim Bowness continues to be the stumbling block. Depending on the song, his affected way of singing can be entirely heartfelt and compelling, as much as it can sound contrived and tedious. He's a limited vocalist and needs the best possible material in order to shine. A more dynamic singer could have made Close Your Eyes into a compelling ballad, but Bowness keeps the mood too samey and tame.

Returning Jesus is a good atmospheric rock album with some outstanding moments. The quality for excellence is there, so it will surely appeal more to some listeners then it does to me. It just made me hold my breath for what was to come if they would give it their very best. 3.5 stars

Report this review (#282865)
Posted Friday, May 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A very nice album from Mssrs. Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness that, in my opinion, stands head and shoulders above the Together We're Stranger (probably due to the rhythm contributions of drummer/percussionist, STEVE JANSEN). I love the stripped down to bare bones song compositions--they work so well with Bowness's plaintive, breathy vocals.

Album favorites: the BRIAN ENO "And Julie With..."-like "Returning Jesus" (5:20) (9/10) (Jansen's amazing Balinese gamelan percussives, the sparse keys and guitar soli); "Outside the Machine" (5:47) (9/10) (Jansen's brush work, Steven's sparse, RYUICHI SAKAMOTO-like piano work, Colin Edwin's fretless bass work); the 1980s PT-sounding "Lighthouse" (8:13) (8/10), and; the SIMPLE MINDS-like "Close Your Eyes" (8:26) (8/10). Nice effort at creating music over sparsity and spaciousness.

3.5 star album rated up for the awesome and rare contributions of Steve Jansen.

Report this review (#377611)
Posted Monday, January 10, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Returning Jesus -- No-Man

Returning Jesus is the epitome of an atmospheric, beautiful album. Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson have truly created a work of art with this album.

Returning Jesus is a very melancholic work, yet full of brilliant and shimmering instrumentation. Clearly inspired by cool jazz, ambient music and also chamber music, this album has somewhat of a stripped down sound, while still staying pretty atmospheric in nature. While those two terms (stripped-down, atmospheric) may sound contrasting, in terms of this album, they really aren't. Bowness' vocals haven't changed much, maybe a little more breathy and personal. The guitarring of Steven Wilson is just as creative as it always is, and compliments Bowness' vocals quite nicely. A common guest of Steven and Tim's, Theo Travis, among a handful of others, makes an appearance on this album. His presence is always welcome, in my opinion, as he is a great flautist and saxophonist, adding that wonderful jazz sound to this mix.

This is an excellent album. The only downside is that some pieces seem to drift on for a little longer than I feel they should, though this isn't always a negative thing. An excellent album overall and highly recommended for fans of Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness, as well as those with affinities for cool jazz-influenced rock and chamber music.

4 Stars.

Report this review (#427254)
Posted Sunday, April 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Flowermouth, Together We're Stranger, Schoolyard Ghosts and Returning Jesus are my favorite albums of NO MAN, all of them for me, five stars, because of the style of music represented in here, more than psychedelic or space prog, it goes farther, they have more the tendency of ambient prog rock with some jazzy lounge sparks that make the albums more interesting, relaxing, beautiful, enjoyable. Tim Bowness has a lot of influence by David Sylvian, but I think Tim has a softer melodic voice, appropriate for this type of songs and also for a more lounge music. Steve Wilson, as usual, incredible at the level of composition and playing, and the background music is always amazing, every single sound or instrument you hear in these albums has a reason to exist. My favorite tracks here, and tracks that really make me shed tears: Returning Jesus, Only Rain, No Defence, Carolina Skeletons, All That You Are; the rest of the songs are simply beautiful, I love No Man.
Report this review (#1020436)
Posted Sunday, August 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars This hidden gem from No-Man, former project of Steven Wilson and vocalist Tim Browness, features a romantic, melancholic pop sound the drifts through ambient colors, restrained but compelling instrumental work, and lush production. It's not an amazing album, but it is a very good one, and will appeal to listeners comfortable with gentle tones and a bit of melodramatic poetry in their music collection.

Returning Jesus creates an effect that is dominated by three things: the open space created by the band's very subtle playing, warm melodies that are like pop-tunes on ambien, and an emotional resonance captured by the vocals and sometimes abstract instrumental moments. The songs often feel more like canvases to which sounds are painted on. This creates a slow-build effect that is deceptively simple and patient. Browness' vocals are emotional and very melodic, with a breathy vibrato that gives the album much of its romantic feel. Overall the result is quite effective, though I can see it reaching the heartstrings of some more than others. Though you may find yourself humming some of the stronger melodies even if you find his singing bland or limited in range.

For me the the highlight of this album is the class that goes in to the production. It's very well recorded and played, creating full sounds to enjoy. If you're seeking something mellow and artsy, but not a flat-line of ambient soundscapes, then check out Returning Jesus. It combines the trip-pop and artistic execution in just the right amount. It's not the best of the No-Man library, which I would give to either of the albums which follow this one, but it's a worthy release with lots to enjoy.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 4 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#1502163)
Posted Tuesday, December 22, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dreamy Soundscape...just beautiful. It is my favorite No-Man album and if you haven't heard it yet you need to check out this album. Colin Edwin plays the bass and Ohh my favorite Theo is featured a lot in this album. Great composition by Mr. Steven Wilson and as always the Angelic voice of Tim is great as usual. This is the best album for bed time as it'll soothe, mystify and capture you in its sound and you'll feel as if you don't live in this world anymore. The mood of the album is somewhat sad but its beautiful . I love the sax playing by Mr. Theo on this album it seems like it's a a ''jazz rock atmospheric space rock prog album''.. Lyrically the album is very touching with songs like Returning Jesus and Outside The Machine (great backing vocals by Steven Wilson) . Carolina Skeletons was released as a singer quit prior to the release of the album. This is a great track like a lullaby. The Centerpiece of the album is Lighthouse which is a 8 mins classic. The albums closes with the heartfelt All that You Are. This album doesn't really have weak moments. For me the highlights are No Defence, Carolina Skeletons, Returning Jesus,(Tim cries in pain "I don't want to stay a million miles away") Outside the machine, these are my favorite No-Man tracks ever.
Report this review (#1516625)
Posted Thursday, January 21, 2016 | Review Permalink

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