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No-Man - Schoolyard Ghosts CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.69 | 229 ratings

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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.

TCat | 5/5 |


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