Exposé Online banner

No-Man — Schoolyard Ghosts
(Kscope kscope103, 2008, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2009-07-01

Schoolyard Ghosts Cover art

Few may know that Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson first achieved success (at least in the UK) with No-Man, his partnership with singer / songwriter / musician Tim Bowness that dates back to 1987. The sixth studio effort finds the pair maturing and evolving their sound well beyond the proto-trip hop/electronic pop style they started with. Bowness – the main songwriter – takes a simplistic, almost minimalist approach with his compositions and his wan, breathy and vulnerable voice floats over delicate arrangements derived from keyboards or guitar. Wilson then brings his formidable talents in sound design, production, engineering and all around aural wizardry to create fully-formed entities that sound much bigger than the songs themselves might suggest, exemplified in ”Song of the Surf” or “Mixtaped.” In some ways this mimics the approach of dream-pop bands and songs like “All Sweet Things” and “Beautiful Things You Should Know” have the same sort of dreamy, yet sonically potent impact mustered by the best ethereal shoegazers. Elsewhere, however, the songs sound like they could have come from Porcupine Tree circa In Absentia except with Bowness at the microphone, as on “Pigeon Drummer.” The centerpiece “Truenorth” encapsulates everything the album has to offer with nearly 13 minutes of atmospheric and slowly wistful pop, propped up by a delicate arrangement of strings, programmed beats, dew drop piano and Mellotron. Numerous guests help bring the songs to life including Porcupine Tree’s Gavin Harrison and Colin Edwin, Pat Mastelloto, Theo Travis and strings arranged by none other than Dave Stewart. This edition is accompanied by a DVD presenting the songs in 5.1 surround and set to screen images of gray, spectral forests. Also included are several videos, including one for “Truenorth” that ironically uses footage from the film The Rotters’ Club.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 37, 2008 releases

Related artist(s): Pat Mastelotto, No-Man, Steven Wilson / I.E.M., Theo Travis, Gavin Harrison, Tim Bowness, Dave Stewart, Andrew Booker

Latest news

2019-11-07
Glenn Smith RIP – Glenn Smith, founder, mandolinist, and primary composer of the DeLand, Florida based prog / fusion band Magnatar, passed away on October 18th 2019 at the age of 68, after a brief illness.  » Read more

2019-11-04
Dino Brassea RIP – Word reaches us of the passing of Dino Brassea, who sang and played flute in Cast for many years. By our count, Brassea appeared on 11 Cast albums between 1994 and 2002. He also released music as a solo artist. » Read more

2019-10-06
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more

2019-08-20
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ain Soph - Five Evolved from Nine – This Japanese band has been around for a while and has put out some pretty damn good music. Unabashedly Canterbury influenced (album titles: Hat & Field, Ride on a Camel), it seems that Ain Soph...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues