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, Theo Travis, Gavin Harrison, Tim Bowness, Dave Stewart, Andrew Booker

Latest news

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more

2017-07-27
Yestival Dates Beef up the Beat – Word reaches us that Dylan Howe (son of guitarist Steve Howe) will be joining Yes on their "Yestival" tour, drumming alongside longtime band member Alan White. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Azigza - Kriya – Combining influences from around the world can be a dangerous enterprise for musicians. There will always be some who call foul at the “appropriation” of sounds from other cultures, preferring...  (2004) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues