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No-Man - Together We're Stranger CD (album) cover

TOGETHER WE'RE STRANGER

No-Man

Psychedelic/Space Rock


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at_for@post.n
5 stars This album gives the word "beauty" a whole new meaning!!! Probably the best of all No- Man releases. I like it even more than my Porcupine Tree's favourite: Lightbulb Sub. The opening suite (tracks 1-4) is 28-minutes of pure ambience. "Photographs In Black And White" is quite long song divided into two parts: the first is great acoustic ballad (I hear some Roger Waters influence here), the other is a truly katharsis piece of music (my favourite part of album). Two remaining compositions musically sound a lot like Porcupine Tree. Highly recommended!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#18238)
Posted Friday, May 07, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is possibly my favourite non-Porcupine Tree Steven Wilson-related album.

Very slow. very atmospheric and very beautiful, the first part of the album consists of four pieces linked by textures, effects and clarinets (Talk Talk-esque), and comes across as a more emotional, vocal-led, version of Bass Communion.

The second part of the album comprises three more conventional, but equally beautiful, acoustic guitar- driven singer-songwriter pieces (the long, slightly Genesis-y, coda to 'Photographs In Black And White' is breathtaking).

Lyrically intimate and almost uniformly sedate, this is undoubtedly the least dynamic album in the band's repertoire, but more so than any of their other albums (with the possible exception of Returning Jesus) rewards frequent listening.

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Send comments to The Sea Priest (BETA) | Report this review (#18241)
Posted Sunday, April 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I have a few NO-MAN albums in my collection and still wonder why these guys have not been talked about a whole lot more. "Together We're Stranger" is another fantastic slow paced dream-like symphonic beauty. NO-MAN is the collaboration of PORCUPINE TREE's Steven Wilson and life long pal Tim Bowness who seem to have some sort of a unique musical chemistry when working together. Gone from this album is even a trace of the early dance beat tendencies with all energy on this album spent in the depth and mood creations. I must tell you that this album is one of my albums from 2004 that "blew me away" and I have played this CD to death. Hard to exactly peg this album but I would say is somewhat reminiscent of the slow instrumental transcendental aspects of PORCUPINE TREE. As usual there are a host of other guest musicians who help shape this rather delicate album including Roger Eno on harmonium. Essentially a great album to mellow out to and a perfect album for the cottage life.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#40168)
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
usfalls@netze
4 stars I really wanted to give this 5 stars but I just couldn't because it's not as complete as the other no-man cds I have(what can I say I'm a porcupine tree freak). But now by saying that I can worship it for what it is... It was my first no-man album and my favorite no-man song is on it, ''Back when you were beautiful'' is just truly beautiful... thats all I can say, I've never had a song make me cry, I don't want to sonund like a pussy but it's just a down right beautiful song!! GO NO-MAN!! 4 stars

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#45318)
Posted Friday, September 02, 2005 | Review Permalink
greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This melancholic record is very hard to classify: while often being very ambient, linear and hypnotic, it is not very progressive, and it contains psychedelic and spacy textures. It sounds a bit like Radiohead's "Treefingers" and the mellow moments of Porcupine Tree. The rhythm is VERY slow, and the miscellaneous very ethereal electric guitar loops and keyboards slightly remind me David Torn's work with Mark Isham (Castalia) and David Sylvian (Secret of the beehive), Robert Fripp's ethereal work with Brian Eno and David Sylvian, David Helpling, Pink Floyd circa "Division Bell", or even Terje Rypdal. The soundscapes are very original and unique. There are some good & serious piano on a couples of tracks. The bad thing is the lead vocals: they have an unpleasant, depressive, cheap & gross tone belonging to bands like Porcupine Tree, Riverside and Opeth: the lead vocals partly kill the good elements provided by the guitars and the keyboards: I try to concentrate on the rest of the instruments in order to give a proper evaluation.

This record truly has great soundscapes, especially on the first track "Together we're strangers". "The city in a hundred ways" contains strange clarinet textures and ethereal floating keyboards in the background: it is interesting but it has to not last too long. "Things I want to tell you" contains excellent lush & echoed acoustic guitars with ethereal floating keyboards in the background. The folkier "Back when you were beautiful" and "Break-up for real" remind me the most melancholic parts of Barclay James Harvest and Pink Floyd. Radiohead should take a lesson from No Man: the electronic album "Kid A" has nothing memorable compared to this record! Finally, this is a good record that many young people should like.

Rating: 3.5 stars

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#61482)
Posted Friday, December 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars First, I am a huge fan of PT and Steve Wilson. Second, I love music that can make world stop. That happened to me the first time that I listened "Together...". Delicate arrangements, speceful keyboards, a beautiful voice, exquisite guitar arrangements... Sometimes, "Together..." looks very simple and even bored but for really expert listeners this album immediatly can be a masterpiece... or close...

Songs to remember: Together We're Stranger, All The Blue Changes, Photographs In Black And White, Back When You Were Beautiful. Maybe I'm wrong because the album looks like a conceptual piece sometimes and all songs are really good but if you want to have a few minutes of intimity and introspection, "Together..." is totally recomended.

Thanx to Mr. Bowness and Mr. Wilson for this beautiful album... almost perfect (Sorry but I really vote for Steve in PT)

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Send comments to progadicto (BETA) | Report this review (#73621)
Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars It took me a long time (too long) for me to appreciate this album. It was hard to get past how slow moving and ambient it is.The atmosphere is so thick, and the lyrics so well done that when I finally came around I was left in awe of what they've done.

The title track has so much atmosphere as Tim sings slowly. "All The Blue Changes" has a little more life instrumentally but not not vocally. Incredible sound 3 1/2 minutes in that doesn't start to let up until around the 6 minute mark. "The City In A Hundred Ways" is a short track with horns and again lots of atmosphere. It blends into "Things I Want To Tell You". Acoustic guitar comes in and then the vocals. So much spacey atmosphere here as well.

"Photographs In Black And White" opens with strummed guitar and spacey sounds as vocals come in. Emotional lyrics. And talking about emotion check out my favourite track "Back When You Were Beautiful". It's cool that Stephen Bennett is playing organ on this one. He is an important part of the HENRY FOOL band that Tim Bowness sings on. "The Break-Up For Real" could be on a PORCUPINE TREE album. Strummed guitar and vocals lead the way. Steven's backup vocals are great. Piano is a nice touch too. Again the lyrics are moving.

A solid 4 stars and no doubt one of their best yet.

Edit 10/29/10 Wow it's been over 4 years since I reviewed this album. I originally gave it 3 stars but bumped it up to 4 stars and here I am giving it the full blown stars ! It's almost shocking how much atmosphere is on this disc. It overwhelmes me and the emotion is right at the surface when listening to this album. Wondrous simply wondrous.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#89866)
Posted Sunday, September 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars SUCH A BEAUTIFUL PERFECT ALBUM! An evolution to his predecessor 'Returning Jesus', where music gets less beat & rave to become more sentimental, more perfectionist, more clean, maybe more jazzy. All these tendencies have been noticed in that album, those changes have been acclaimed and well received as for old as for new listeners. Well, this time we'll hear the same focusing but with a much better and more thorough production; these are longer and even slower songs full of sense. Music in the whole album is still and calm but you will not get bored if you really let yourself be caught and envolved by the heartbreaking voice of Tim Bowness and the abundant beautiful arrangments and dreamy soundscapes courtesy of Steven Wilson. "Back When You Were Beautiful" is the song that would have made a single if there was such a single, but somehow this album doesn't need of singles to triumph. "All The Blue Changes" and "Photographs In Black And White" are for me the proof of that perfection I'm talkin' about at the top of this review; really my favourite pieces of this album. There are also many guest mussicians in this record. There will be a reissue in DVDA format this year, maybe on spring, it will consist of 2 discs and will package the stereo mix version of the CD previously issued as the disc one, and a 5.1 surround mix version on the other disc.

Individual ratings for each song:

1. Together We're Stranger (9/10) 2. All The Blue Changes (10/10) 3. The City In A Hundred Ways (8/10) 4. Things I Want To Tell You (7/10) 5. Photographs In Black And White (10/10) 6. Back When You Were Beautiful (10/10) 7. The Break-up For Real (10/10)

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Send comments to porcupine_boy (BETA) | Report this review (#113120)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Together We're Stranger" is No-Man's deepest, most soulful, and enjoyable album to date-- focusing entirely on delicate ambience and intricate song writing; it is the only one of their albums I heartily recommend to fans coming from outside the genre, and will unfailingly impress any going in with an open mind.

First, the recording quality is top-notch, allowing the listener to be swept away by the rich atmospheres. The songs themselves are lyrically smarter than anything else they've done, and Browness' vocals positively ooze class-- his best yet. Moreover, Wilson's signature guitar is much stronger and his soundscapes more vibrant, despite their melancholy tone. The songs do have their (slightly) upbeat sections, but are as a whole slow and sullen-- very enjoyable. Ben Coleman is sadly absent, but the album does have an enjoyable bit of clarinet work to add a rarely heard sound to things.

An amazing listening experience for those ready for it.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#140688)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
russellk
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Heartbreakingly sensational. NO-MAN finally put music and lyrics together to perfectly sum up the end of a relationship using some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard. Why on earth isn't this band more widely known?

So how good is this? I'm a huge PORCUPINE TREE fan, but this is better than anything in the PT catalogue. I'm a fan of ambient music, and this ranks as my favourite album in that broad genre. And I've loved PINK FLOYD since I was a young teen, and I have no hesitation in saying this is right up there with WISH YOU WERE HERE.

But before I go any further, a warning. This album has none of the immediacy of a PORCUPINE TREE album. There's very little that impresses itself on you at first listen. Ambient music is about the listener actively interacting with the music: you have to put something in. You can't sit back and expect the music to work wonders, and you most certainly can't put it on as background. It requires your active attention.

The first four tracks form an indivisible ambient suite nearly half an hour long. The opener is comparable to 'Flowermouth's 'Angel Caught in the Beauty Trap'. A drill-like opening gives way to an impossibly dreamy soundscape. BOWNESS's voice is more direct here than I've heard in nearly a decade: his delivery is still breathy and matter-of-fact, but there's a tautness speaking of suppressed emotion. I can't help thinking of TALK TALK as this track unfolds, of 'Spirit of Eden'. 'All The Blue Changes' - well, even thinking about it brings a chill. Organ, chattering synth loops and the first percussion on the album lead into BOWNESS's best vocal performance on top of a slow build into cathartic beauty, which bursts into a PORCUPINE TREE-like harmonised chorus (a la 'Trains' or 'Prodigal'): 'The city in a hundred ways/It wouldn't let you stay.' Reminiscent of PINK FLOYD at their best, a modern and more desperate 'Welcome to the Machine', perhaps, or something from Side 2 of 'The Wall', filled with angst and the prospect of dissolution. Lush, addictive, achingly beautiful and hurtful. The third track, titled after the lyrics in the second track (a NO-MAN trick) is a clarinet-led instrumental, a short sounscape leading to 'Things I Want To Tell You', an exercise in slow desperation: 'I'm what you left behind/I'm fading from your mind'. Anyone who has experienced heartache and loss has finally found here a sophisticated voice well beyond the banality of pop sentiments.

'Photographs in Black and White' is a ten-minute minimalist triumph. We are warned: 'You talk so fast/To stop yourself from thinking/You move so fast/So you'll never see you're sinking'. Instead, in the midst of present sorrow, take the time to remember, to reflect on those who loved us. This track has the most gorgeous progression, with ROGER ENO playing harmonium to great effect. A five-minute coda sends chills down the spine: WILSON brings everything he has to the table, all the years of space-rock compositions coming together.

'Back When You Were Beautiful' is another song of loss: 'Friendship comes/But it mostly goes'. This is a slow ballad, closer to PORCUPINE TREE than NO-MAN. Banjo and all, this is recognisably 'In Absentia' territory married with 'The Sky Moves Sideways'. And the album finishes on a plaintive note with 'The Break-Up For Real', another PT-style track, the second on the album to have the increasingly familiar harmonised chorus hook. On my iTunes playlist this last track is replaced with the drum mix version from the eponymous single, and I follow it with '(bluecoda)', an instrumental from the same single that reintroduces the album's opening theme. Five stars either way.

You have to be in the mood for this, and you have to have the time. Some day you will, so get this and be prepared.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#144954)
Posted Tuesday, October 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
5 stars No-man's music has always intrigued and appealed to me, but the Wilson - Bowness tandem had never entirely convinced me. I always had some kind of issue with the poppy nature of the music or Bowness' vocals. Also their 5th album Together We're Stranger did not entirely engage me at first. The slowly meandering atmosphere did take a lot of time to leave its mark on me. But ever since it did, I've been truly astounded by this album.

None of the previous No-man albums had prepared me for this one. Wilson stripped the arrangement to the bones, only leaving minimalist sketches of slowly flowing ambient guitars and keyboard sounds. It makes for a sombre, moving and very poetic album detailing the break-up of relationships and other hardship. Bowness delivers some of his best vocals ever here. Very quiet and subdued, almost hesitant, but evoking a feeling of fragility and truthfulness.

The slowness and bare approach of the album might put off many listeners, spoilt as we all are by very busy and action-packed music. This is a typical example of an album that takes a while to sink in and I wouldn't recommend it if you are into harsh metal, busy Prog or hot techno right now. That's where I was when I first heard it and it didn't really register then. But if you feel you're ready to be overwhelmed by slow and delicate melancholic mood music, then this is the album you need.

Slow, sad and sometimes almost lethargic, this will register as boring to some, but as fascinatingly beautiful to others. This is an album to listen to when you cannot be diverted by any distractions, so wait until dark and put on those headphones, or surrounded yourself by the lush 5.1 mix.

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#285551)
Posted Tuesday, June 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
progkidjoel
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Pure beauty transposed into music, pure and simple.

As an album, Together We're Stranger is just that - a collection of truly beautiful music transposed into one disc. On this album of wonderful ambient pop, Bowness and Wilson truly solidify their legacy as no-man, creating just under 50 minutes of sonic wonder. The truly commendable effort of Wilson, tackling a majority of the instrumentation, creates some of the most dense and explorative atmospherics to ever grace my ears, and Bowness' dramatic, dulcet tones, although not everyone's favourite vocal style, match this music perfectly, and pull at the heart strings like very few other albums ever have, or ever will.

The music is mostly soundscape/synthesizer based and has a wonderful lyric set, which mostly seems to confront relationship issues, the loss of loved ones and other facts of life, love and loss. The soundscapes, guitar, banjo, clarinet, strings and vocal work here is unlike any other no-man album (or any other album for that matter) - incredible creativity and imagination is at work here, creating unheard of tones. This is an album best enjoyed on a walk at night, or in one's room alone - put simply, this is not upbeat music in any real shape or form, and features very few pop sensibilities like many of no-man's other works.

The album opens with soft synth on the title track, Wilson awaiting Bowness' vocal input later on in the track. A soaring guitar solo cuts amongst the ambient work here, and the result is truly perfect. Other tracks like All The Blue Changes feature a more definite rhythm, and this movement between structured, beat based music comes in and out of the picture. The spacey, open wide sound returns with Things I Want To Tell You, a maze of haunting vocals, incredibly sad yet beautiful lyrics, plucked guitar and mellotron, which is very easily one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever conceived, recorded or heard. Photographs In Black And White features a sound more similar to the earlier, poppier no-man works, although closes in an incredibly dark fashion. Back When You Were Beautiful is the albums more obvious ballad, but is still brilliant none the less. This melancholic little ditty features some of the most beautiful guitar and vocal interplay I've ever heard, and ranks highly amongst my favourite Wilson releases. The closer, The Break-Up For Real, has a much more harsh, raw sound, although is still absolutely beautiful, and brings this tear-jerker to an end.

As a pop music, ambient lover, or Wilson aficionado, you HAVE to hear this album. As such a curiosity in their discography, it is surprising to see this album receive the band's most critical acclaim, although incredibly well deserved. It is worth mentioning the sonic quality on the 24 bit master, available on the DVD portion of the CD/DVD version, blows the CD's out of the water for sonic fidelity, which is an important factor on this album. Regardless of how, this album MUST be heard!

An easy masterpiece.

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Send comments to progkidjoel (BETA) | Report this review (#302760)
Posted Friday, October 08, 2010 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Crossover Team
4 stars No-Man are again a duo, with just a few guests, and there cannot be many bands that have been going fifteen years let alone recording while one of the members is also in a slightly more well-known outfit. Tim Bowness provides the vocals, while Steve Wilson provides all of the instruments and if anyone thinks that this might just sound anything like Porcupine Tree are very much mistaken. This is an album that sees the band really push Tim's vocals to the front, while the music swirls, moves and shifts behind. It is almost New Age at times but there is always a slight hint of menace that drives away the saccharine.

It becomes an album that is timeless, ageless, modern yet harkening back to the Seventies. There are Floydian touches but no-one could ever think that they are copyists. There can be just a gentle piano chord, followed by a line of sung melody. There are songs that are heart- achingly beautiful that if edited might even stand a chance in the charts. It is almost as if their previous albums have been leading up to this, as if Steven has managed to exorcise heavier demons with Porcupine Tree and here has come home to provide a stark view of what can be done. If these guys were designers then they would be minimalist, of that there is no doubt. This is not an album to jump into, you must be prepared to sit back and let it all wash over you (oh and don't turn up the volume at the end of "Things I Want To Tell You" like I did, otherwise you will jump out of your skin when the next song starts). Superb.

Originally appeared in Feedback #73, Jun 03

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Send comments to kev rowland (BETA) | Report this review (#978692)
Posted Saturday, June 15, 2013 | Review Permalink

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