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



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Prog Leviathan
2 stars Fans backtracking through Steven Wilson's immense catalogue of music will (like me), be at once surprised and disappointed-- but still a little intrigued by this early recording from No-Man. Know going into this listen that it is nothing like Porcupine Tree (especially new PT); rather, this incarnation of No-Man is effectively artistic dance/pop music, densely layered with style and class through a clever use of technology and airy song-writing. Wilson uses his guitar and synth to create a virtual symphony of sound, with only the occasional solo or stand-out instrumental moment, this, over an electric drum-machine pulsing out laid-back and sometimes jazzy beats. Browness' smooth vocals are one of the highpoints of the album, giving it a very sensuous feel. Ben Coleman's violin atmospherics and melodies contribute a unique sound as well (such as in the sweeping "Days in the Trees").

The end result is an easy listen which has undeniable charm-- but doesn't sustain or make much of an impact; however, it might just connect with a certain type of listener, but be prepared for 4/4 pop beats and little of the contemporary Steven Wilson magic.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 2 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#140683)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is gorgeous pop music.

Building on a solid dance beat, NO-MAN construct ten luscious tracks that will appeal - well, probably not to many on this forum, to be honest. I'm a huge techno fan, and it is clear that STEVEN WILSON spent hours listening to the various strands of that diverse genre, from trance through ambient to trip-hop: it all appears in his work. Anyone wanting to understand this man's influences must go further than PINK FLOYD.

'Loveblow' is an intimate chamber orchestra of an entrance to this record, prefacing the sterling upbeat pop of 'Only Baby', a likeable track with a splendid pulsing bass line. 'Housekeeping' - the title reflecting NO-MAN's obsession with domestic and private human spaces - is a little downtempo. It is followed by the five-star gem of this album, the glorious 'Sweetheart Raw.' If you have any interest in pop music, have a listen to this track. This six minute wonderland has a wonderful bass line (courtesy of MICK KARN's fretless bass - in fact JAPAN are virtually all involved in this track) and BOWNESS gives a great minimalist vocal performance a la NEIL TENNANT. The song is surpassed only by the nine minute version on the 'Sweetheart Raw' single, and concludes with the first trademark WILSON guitar solo on a NO-MAN album. The rest of the songs continue in this fashion, each one polished and holding the listener's interest. COLEMAN colours most of the tracks most effectively with his violin. 'Tulip' and 'Painting Paradise' are particularly effective, the latter, like 'Sweetheart Raw', favoured with excellent guitar work, and the best of the rest after 'Sweetheart'. And, like me, you'll think for a moment at the beginning of 'Tulip' that you've suddenly switched to a certain YES album ...

The signs are all there, albeit in the context of a pop album. Within a year NO-MAN had made great progress - though not as much as their label wanted. Four stars in the context of techno-pop, but only one star for the narrow proghead. If you are one of the latter, save your money for 'Flowermouth' or 'Together We're Stranger'.

Report this review (#144383)
Posted Sunday, October 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Loveblows & Lovecries - A Confession is the second album from No-Man. No-Man is one of Steven Wilson ( Porcupine Tree, Blackfield...etc) projects. The album was released in 1993. This is the european version of the album.

The music is pretty much like on the debut Lovesighs - An Entertainment (1992). Electronic pop with slight ambient tendencies. The drums are especially noteworthy for being dancable early nineties style. The vocals from Tim Bowness are mellow pop style vocals. Most songs are pretty formulaic with easily recognisable choruses and a definite commercial appeal.

The musicianship is good. Tim Bowness is a strong singer and the instrumental side of the album which is all done by Steven Wilson is professionally done.

The production is typical for the early nineties. Clean and a bit cold.

Loveblows & Lovecries - A Confession has aged badly IMO. The album is totally stuck in the nineties pop/ dance style and personally I´m not enjoying myself. Those drums alone are able to kill me. Horrible sounding drums IMO. My overall rating will be 2 stars. The product is well done ( production, musicianship) but this is not my taste at all.

Report this review (#195332)
Posted Sunday, December 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
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

Report this review (#203917)
Posted Saturday, February 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars No-man is the brainchild of Steve Wilson and Tim Bowness. It used to be Wilson's main band before Porcupine Tree, the side-project that he started off as a joke, rose to international stardom. Listening to No-man's debut, things could easily have turned in favour of No-man as it is a delightful quality pop album.

The music on No-man's debut is heavily rooted in the 80's pop music, lending elements from dance music and arty pop such as Talk Talk and Japan of course, whose members participate on one track. David Sylvian is not in the list of featured guests but Bowness makes up for that with a whispery croon that has plenty of Sylvian mannerisms. In a way No-man bridges 80's synth pop with the imminent trip-hop breakthrough of bands like Tricky and Massive Attack. In fact, it's one of the reasons why it could have made perfect sense that No-man had broken through and not Porcupine Tree.

The album has a number of very clever pop-tunes such as Only Baby, Housekeeping, Taking it Like A Man and the Japan-assisted Sweetheart Raw. The funky Painting Paradise is a certain highpoint, both by its smart arrangements and emotive power. But there is also a lot of material that is too fluffy for me such as Lovecry and Beautiful and Cruel. Also Tulip doesn't do much for me, despite the charming sampling of Yes's Roundabout opening chord.

Overal an interesting debut of a band that did not appeal to many people. At least not before Porcupine Tree rose to fame and No-man drastically changed their style to become an outlet for Wilson's ambient pop interests at the end of the 90's.

Report this review (#266976)
Posted Friday, February 19, 2010 | Review Permalink

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