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NO-MAN

Psychedelic/Space Rock • United Kingdom


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No-Man biography
Formed in Hemel Hempstead, UK in 1987

No-Man is an island. For nearly 15 years, the UK duo of vocalist Tim BOWNESS and guitarist & multi-instrumentalist Steven WILSON has existed deep within its own shores, far from the contaminating tides of industry. NO-MAN have produced some of the most intriguing music of the last decade. Theirs is an uncompromising approach that connects the perimeters of rock and pop with a myriad of far-flung influences including neo-classical, jazz, dub and techno.

NO-MAN have produced some of the most intriguing music of the last decade. This band glanced to the past to realize its latest album "Speak". The CD is a retooled version of a cassette-only release of late '80s material. Re-mastered in the year 2002 for our exclusive pleasure, "Heaven Taste" is a collection of rare tracks, of new versions and of B-sides from the 1991 to 1995 period. "Returning Jesus" (2001) is simply splendid and includes romantic and sumptuous strings in the first track, something to be remembered!

See also:
- Blackfield
- I.E.M.
- Porcupine Tree

NO-MAN Videos (YouTube and more)


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NO-MAN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

NO-MAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.14 | 85 ratings
Loveblows & Lovecries - A Confession
1993
3.96 | 201 ratings
Flowermouth
1994
3.61 | 121 ratings
Wild Opera
1996
3.86 | 198 ratings
Returning Jesus
2001
4.08 | 313 ratings
Together We're Stranger
2003
3.69 | 229 ratings
Schoolyard Ghosts
2008
2.93 | 73 ratings
Love You to Bits
2019

NO-MAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.00 | 23 ratings
Highlights From Mixtaped
2009
3.89 | 27 ratings
Love And Endings
2012

NO-MAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.16 | 32 ratings
Mixtaped
2009
4.38 | 8 ratings
Love And Ebdings
2012

NO-MAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.79 | 28 ratings
Lovesighs - An Entertainment
1991
2.74 | 33 ratings
Flowermix
1995
3.92 | 51 ratings
Heaven Taste
1995
3.19 | 51 ratings
Dry Cleaning Ray (CD mini-album )
1997
2.95 | 54 ratings
((Speak))
1999
4.05 | 33 ratings
All The Blue Changes
2006
3.95 | 2 ratings
Swagger: Lost Not Lost Volume One 1989/1990
2024
4.91 | 3 ratings
Housekeeping: The OLI Years 1990-1994
2024

NO-MAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.75 | 4 ratings
Colours (7" Promo)
1990
2.75 | 4 ratings
Colours (12" Promo)
1990
4.09 | 13 ratings
Days In The Trees
1991
3.20 | 5 ratings
Ocean Song
1992
3.84 | 6 ratings
Sweetheart Raw
1993
3.17 | 6 ratings
Only Baby
1993
3.40 | 5 ratings
Painting Paradise
1993
2.21 | 9 ratings
Taking It Like A Man
1994
2.50 | 15 ratings
Housewives Hooked on Heroin
1996
3.00 | 3 ratings
Dry Cleaning Ray (7" vinyl single)
1997
2.95 | 12 ratings
Radio Sessions: 1992-96
1998
4.13 | 17 ratings
Carolina Skeletons
1998
3.24 | 12 ratings
Lost Songs Vol - 1
2001
3.85 | 16 ratings
All That You Are
2003
3.00 | 8 ratings
The Break-Up For Real
2007
3.54 | 21 ratings
Wherever There Is Light
2009

NO-MAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Housekeeping: The OLI Years 1990-1994 by NO-MAN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2024
4.91 | 3 ratings

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Housekeeping: The OLI Years 1990-1994
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars These days, most people who become aware of Steven Wilson probably know him for Porcupine Tree, or his solo albums, or his active side hustle putting together fresh new mixes of classic albums from the prog greats of the past. Then, of course, there's the expanded universe of less heralded side projects he's had a hand in over the years. These days, No-Man is one of those side projects - a thing he comes back to now and again, whenever the mood strikes him and Tim Bowness, his constant creative partner in the project, but which can't really be said to be the main focus of his career.

However, there was a time when that wasn't the case - when even the mighty Porcupine Tree was a mere side project and No-Man was the most active of his musical ventures. After putting out various early demos and EPs over the 1980s, No-Man would sign with the OLI label (called One Little Indian then, but sensibly rebranded as One Little Independent now), issuing a clutch of singles and albums which represent No-Man's most sustained and intense burst of activity, with Ben Coleman along for the ride on violin. (He would exit by the end of the era, partially for financial reasons, partially because No-Man were moving in a direction where putting a violin solo on every song no longer made sense.)

Housekeeping is an encapsulation of that era, offering over five CDs the Lovesighs compilation of single tracks predating their debut album, the debut album itself (Loveblows and Lovecries), and the magnificent Flowermouth - perhaps the apex of their musical accomplishment in this phase, as they emerged from the shadow of the commercially fashionable trip-hop style they'd been pigeonholed into by the label and created something more artistically compelling through the simple measure of ignoring all of the label's instructions and just doing their own thing.

The bonus tracks on the discs for Lovesighs and debut album Loveblows and Lovecries, plus the dedicated "Singles" disc of non-album singles, offer a somewhat more varied sound, with the 22 minute Heaven Taste touching at points on similar territory to that which Wilson was exploring in Porcupine Tree at the same time. (In the process, this material displaces the now-redundant compilation Heaven Taste.) Likewise, the disc's worth of radio sessions puts another spin on a lot of the material, with the acoustic sessions in particular taking their sound into evocative new realms and making their devotion to Donovan and Nick Drake make somewhat more sense.

Though taken individually I would say that Flowermouth stands head and shoulders over the other discs here (with the radio sessions at a close second place, thanks to the more diverse sound it has compared to the earlier OLI releases), at the same time my appreciation of the first three discs is heightened by having the musical evolution of the group during this era laid out here in such encyclopedic fashion.

Of course, we all know the story - after putting out a few tapes and On the Sunday of Life as a joke, Steven Wilson found his Porcupine Tree side hustle gaining further traction. By the end of the period covered here, Porcupine Tree would have released Up the Downstair - the first sign that the project was more than a one-off joke - Wilson would be simultaneously drawing together the material which would become The Sky Moves Sideways, Porcupine Tree would crystallise as a full-on band project, and the group's momentum just kept building.

At the same time, it appears that Bowness and Wilson were realising that whatever No-Man might become, it wasn't going to be as big as they'd hoped for; from 1994 to 2006 they went into a hiatus as far as live shows go, keeping No-Man alive as an occasional studio project and further developing and mutating its sound. But for a brief flash of time in the early 1990s, you could believe that No-Man were about to be the next big thing. Housekeeping will take anyone who remembers that era back there in fine fashion; for those of us, like me, who simply missed this material first time around, it's a wonderful one-stop summation of what all the fuss is about.

 Flowermouth by NO-MAN album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.96 | 201 ratings

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Flowermouth
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

5 stars No-Man's last major release on OLI saw the band sufficiently demoralised by record company mandates that they decided to simply ignore what the company wanted entirely and just follow their own muse. As a result, they branch out of the narrow trip-hop lane they had occupied for their earlier OLI releases and explored a broader dream pop/progressive pop universe.

A seismic shift occurred here in the band lineup, with Ben Coleman departing the group, credited here in only a guest capacity. As well as simply wanting to find better-paying work, Coleman was finding that he was becoming more peripheral to the group, and multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson has admitted since that things had reached a point where No-Man's music needed a broader range of instrumental textures and crowbarring a violin solo into every song had becomes burdensome.

The benefits of a wider range of guests become apparent here, including Ian Carr of Nucleus fame, several future full- time members of Porcupine Tree (Richard Barbieri and Colin Maitland), Dead Can Dance's Lisa Gerrard, and King Crimson luminaries Mel Collins and Robert Fripp. With its centre of gravity in the artier, more laid-back end of downtempo, the album manages to show a progressive ethos without working in the more classically psych-prog/space rock notes that Wilson was reserving for Porcupine Tree.

The wake of this album would see further changes for No-Man; they would depart the OLI label, continue to evolve their sound, and put their live appearances on hiatus, not performing onstage again until 2006. With Porcupine Tree beginning to seriously gather steam at this point, it's perhaps understandable that No-Man activities were scaled back at this point. In the intervening years a new No-Man album has been a comparatively rare treat whilst Porcupine Tree has given us an embarrassment of riches (five new studio albums from No-Man, nine from Porcupine Tree, and way more live releases from the latter at that) and Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness have both put out a plethora of solo albums and collaborations along the way.

In other words, a case can certainly be made that Flowermouth represents the last point when No-Man was the central motivating force of Steven Wilson's musical endeavours - the main project which was given top priority out of all his activities at the time. On Flowermouth, we can hear why he considered this music worth committing to.

 Loveblows & Lovecries - A Confession by NO-MAN album cover Studio Album, 1993
3.14 | 85 ratings

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Loveblows & Lovecries - A Confession
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars The debut album from No-Man finds them committing to the trip hop direction their music took in the preceding singles for the OLI label, with Tim Bowness increasingly sounding like David Sylvian (as opposed to the late-career Scott Walker sound he had on early works like Swagger) and Steven Wilson's instrumental backing drawing heavily on late Talk Talk and early trip hop. Ben Coleman's violin contributions are a key part of the texture again.

A glance at the guest spots finds a good chunk of Japan appearing on Sweetheart Raw, including Richard Barbieri, which naturally makes this significant as far as Porcupine Tree's history goes since this would be his earliest collaboration with Steven Wilson. Indeed, in recent live performances, Steven Wilson's cheekily changed the line in "Fear of a Blank Planet" from "My friend says he wants to die/He's in a band/They sound like Pearl Jam/Their clothes are all black/The music is crap" to say "He's in a band/They sound like Japan" - perhaps a self-deprecating nod to this early milestone in his career. Here, the music is, in fact, not crap - but nor is it really blazing a new trail in the trip hop sphere. If you like this sort of thing, it will be enjoyable, but if you don't have much time for the artier end of trip hop this isn't the No-Man album to win you over.

 Lovesighs - An Entertainment by NO-MAN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1991
2.79 | 28 ratings

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Lovesighs - An Entertainment
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Compiling material from various singles and EPs released by No-Man in the early 1990s, Lovesighs was something of a stopgap release - something to get out there and aid the band's visibility as their debut album, Loveblows and Lovecries, had its release delayed somewhat due to their label's desire to get more commercial material on there. Immediately prior to signing to OLI, the band had been in a period of stylistic experimentation summed up on the Swagger EP (and the recently released Swagger: Lost Not Lost Volume 1 compilation), but here they seem to hone in on a particular style, at least for their early OLI releases.

Their sound here essentially early trip-hop, Steven Wilson laying down the beats and instrumental textures, Tim Bowness providing lyrics reminiscent of a late-career Scott Walker, and Ben Coleman providing rich additional texture through his violin. It's a compellingly melancholic blend which is about as far from the psychedelic early Porcupine Tree that Wilson was cooking up on the side as it's possible to get.

 Swagger: Lost Not Lost Volume One 1989/1990 by NO-MAN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2024
3.95 | 2 ratings

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Swagger: Lost Not Lost Volume One 1989/1990
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This collection of old, primordial No-Man tracks bears a promising "volume one" in its title, suggesting that this is only the first of several archival collections from the group. Indeed, it's been released as a companion piece to a much more substantial project - Housekeeping, a bumper compilation of material from the group's period on the One Little Indian label. This collection compiles material from immediately before that, and is essentially an expanded version of the Swagger EP, originally released back when Tim Bowness, Steven Wilson, and Ben Coleman were still calling their art pop project "No Man Is An Island".

I may as well kick off with a review of Swagger, then. Here we go: "Combining sophisti-pop cool with flashes of prog sensibilities and a touch of industrial added by the drum machine, this EP from No-Man establishes the trio of Tim Bowness on vocals, Ben Coleman on Violin, and Steven Wilson on multi-instrumentalist wizardry as capable of evoking a deep, rich sound, presenting pocket symphonies for the 1980s indie-pop era. It's not quite trip-hop, but it perhaps lives next door to that scene. Elsewhere, Bleed comes across as Prefab Sprout doing a collaboration with Nine Inch Nails with Outside-era Bowie."

As for the rest of this stuff? Well, it's very much in a similar vein, with Tim Bowness' vocals (not unlike latter-day Scott Walker) and Steven Wilson's instrumental backing crafting something intriguing. For those more used to Wilson's work in Porcupine Tree or the more prog-leaning of his solo albums, this may feel like something of a departure; the main touchpoints here in terms of influence seems to be the synth-pop of earlier phases of the 1980s and, perhaps especially, the synth-pop-bleeding-into-post-rock contours of none other than Talk Talk, albeit with the jazz influences less evident. As with Talk Talk, No-Man would eventually undergo a sweeping musical evolution of its own, and thanks to this collection a key part of that process is now readily available.

 Flowermouth by NO-MAN album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.96 | 201 ratings

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Flowermouth
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

4 stars If the first album of NO-MAN was purely Pop that had nothing to do with Prog, this one is far more interesting. There are still Pop elements, but so much more with many instruments that bring the songs to another level. I am thinking of that beautiful classical piano, a little saxophone, and a trumpet passage. The songs are sung by the melancholic voice of Tim Bowness. The instrumentation is provided by Steven Wilson, Robert Fripp, and others. The guitar is heavier at the end of the album with a terrific long guitar solo. There are some classical arrangements where you can hear the violin. The result is a beautiful atmospheric rock album that I just discovered recently. If the first album was too much on the Pop side and the recent releases too ambient for my taste, this one is just what I needed.
 Housewives Hooked on Heroin by NO-MAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1996
2.50 | 15 ratings

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Housewives Hooked on Heroin
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars This is a 5 track EP released in 1996 to support the No-man album "Wild Opera". It starts off with the somewhat threatening sounding track from that album, the name sake of this EP. It is one of the better tracks from that album and is the exact same version. The other 4 are miscellaneous songs not found on that album.

"Hit the Ceiling" has a fast, automatic beat and is a bit more experimental. The program notes say that it was recorded between 1 and 2 am in the morning on September 20, 1995. It has a lot of interesting loops and broken up vocals from Tim Bowness and a rousing bass line, but it never really goes anywhere. Following this track is Spanner's remix of the title track which is a few minutes longer than the original and in this case, it is titled "Housewives Hooked on Methadone". It begins mysteriously with slow moving synth chords, and seems quite interesting at first, but when the tinny sounding percussion loops come in, it instantly ruins the track. The percussion is much faster than the extended chords and slower moving vocal melody line would suggest making it a sort of rave style drum & bass track. This is the style of dance music Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness were exploring at the time.

Next up is "Urban Disco" which is also available on the album "Dry Cleaning Ray" released in 1977. This one is quite a bit more interesting with a very heavy drum and bass beat which feels much more natural here. The music gets even heavier as the track continues and vocal effects are added to help boost Tim's vocals for this solid song. Finally, the last track is "Where I'm Calling From" which opens with a steady, medium thumping beat and some soundscapes from Robert Fripp's atmospheric guitar with slow strums from Wilson. The slower melody is quite fitting for Tim's airy vocals. This is a nice song made even more psychedelic with pretty guitar effects and the sultry trumpet added by Ian Carr in the last half of the track. Nice ending.

So, three out of five of the tracks are decent while the two middle tracks consists of mostly annoying dance music. Three out of five of the tracks are unique to this album, or otherwise on rare collections. The problem with the best tracks is that they are too short, especially the last one which could have developed really well if it were longer. But it's a pretty good EP/single from that era which would be good for anyone collecting Steven Wilson/Tim Bowness albums.

 Love You to Bits by NO-MAN album cover Studio Album, 2019
2.93 | 73 ratings

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Love You to Bits
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'Love You to Bits' is the new album from No-Man, or the art rock/pop duo of Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness, coming after an 11-year break. They decided to keep it short and sweet with this one, as we can appreciate the album length of 36 minutes. Just two long tracks are present on this album, or if you prefer, two cycles of shorter tracks (five for each composition) pretty much exploring the realm of 'progressive disco' (if such a term exists).

I feel like this album is much more indicative of where Wilson is musically, rather that Bowness who provides all leading vocals on 'Love You to Bits'.

As for the music, I must admit I enjoy listening to this album; it is quite lighthearted when compared with Wilson's past work. You get tons of synths, layered above each other; a drum machine (I guess most of the time) provides the catchy beat that goes on throughout the whole thing; funky bass and a frantic guitar solo which is such a Steven Wilson moment.

The two tracks are essentially conceptual, described perfectly as "Chronicling the aftermath of a relationship from different perspectives". Bowness does a good job vocalizing the supposed characters, as his emotive delivery is quite what this music needs. The songs are memorable but there are moments where it feels a bit forced, almost as if they tried really hard to get to the desired length. This results in passages of ambient intertwining with the main beat-driven dance rhythm of the record. However, this is a good album overall. But nothing more, at least for me.

 Love You to Bits by NO-MAN album cover Studio Album, 2019
2.93 | 73 ratings

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Love You to Bits
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by russellk
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The unexpected revival of the dormant WILSON-BOWNESS collaboration isn't quite the gem people were hoping for. Rather than a complex, multilayered album, or a minimalist set of introspective songs such as NO-MAN have given us before, this is more akin to ten house remixes of the one song. Fun, clever, even poignant in that self-revelatory way TIM BOWNESS has. But it's telling that this was turned out in a mutual break in their schedules, rather than being part of their schedule.

Is it any good? It's OK, but not essential by any means. Is it prog? Not really. It's a curio, rather out of place in the NO- MAN catalogue, but not surprising given WILSON'S chameleon-like tastes. If anything it harks back in form, if not quite in substance, to NO-MAN's earliest efforts. An interesting record by two professionals not trying very hard.

 Schoolyard Ghosts by NO-MAN album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.69 | 229 ratings

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Schoolyard Ghosts
No-Man Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by TCat
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

5 stars The duo of Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson (known as No-Man) is an interesting one. Together they have created some unexpected styles with their combination of dance music or atmospheric music that still can easily find itself in a progressive music lovers library because of its uniqueness. No other artist really sounds like this. The problem is, it doesn't always work. But when it does, it is very powerful. 'Schoolyard Ghosts' (released in 2008) is a case where it works quite well in an ambience sense (for the most part). Talk about the melding of beauty and power, this is where it works for the best as the result has generated some extremely emotional and soul-wrenching music that will most likely touch even the hardest of hearts.

It took 5 years for Bowness and Wilson to bring this masterpiece of minimalist beauty together. Their two previous albums, 'Returning Jesus' (2001) and 'Together We're Stranger' (2003), both of which are quite excellent, pretty much paved the way as they hinted towards the sound that would culminate in 'Schoolyard Ghosts'. As soon as you put on this album, you are instantly touched by the extreme beauty of 'All Sweet Things'. It's as if Bowness' airy and unique vocals were made for this style of music, and the instrumentation headed over by Wilson (and several guests in the case of this album) reach straight for the heart of the listener and they don't let go. Lush and heartbreaking, it is an emotional ride that pierces the soul and one of the highlights of the album. This is followed by 'Beautiful Songs You Should Know' which sums up the purpose of the album.

The odd duck in this album is actually a pigeon, 'Pigeon Drummer', that is. This one goes to extremes, literally, and almost makes it sound out of place when it gets loud and distorted. But, Wilson is always one to throw in surprises that will catch you off guard as followers of his other, more unknown projects like 'Bass Communion' and 'I.E.M' will testify. This one will probably not sit well with many listeners as it can go from ambient to extreme without any notice, so be prepared.

The center of this album is made up of two extremely amazing tracks of beauty and emotion; the 12-minute masterpiece 'Truenorth' and what I consider the most beautiful song ever written, 'Wherever There is Light'. Both of these are masterpieces also with the more exploratory track and the heart-rending following track which makes me well up with emotion every time I hear that pedal steel guitar played by guest Bruce Kaphan. That song to me is just beauty beyond words.

The album will continue to stay with the sweet and ambient style as it goes on with 3 more excellent tracks including the more experimental and exploratory 'Mixtaped', and altogether, this makes up one of my most favorite albums ever. The power behind this album is simply beyond description for me, so it is probably best for you to judge for yourself. It might be too laid back for some people or the one strange track might be too abrasive of others, but overall, you can't deny the beauty of the 3 mentioned highlights of the album. To me, this is an absolute masterpiece, and I can't do anything but rate it as such. 5 stars.

Unfortunately, I haven't heard the bonus disc of material on the 2014 deluxe edition, so I don't know how it weighs in with the rest of the album, but for me, the 8 tracks of the original edition give a strong enough statement to merit the perfect rating.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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