Exposé Online banner

Tim Bowness / Samuel Smiles — World of Bright Futures
(Hidden Art hi-art 3, 1999, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2000-10-01

World of Bright Futures Cover art

Vocalist Tim Bowness (of No-Man) formed Samuel Smiles back in the early 1990s with Michael Bearpark (guitar, programming) as an exercise in “ambient folk” music. For this, their first release, new members Peter Chilvers (piano, keyboards, bass, loops, Chapman Stick) and Myke Clifford (saxophones, flute, congas) join the duo, along with guest appearances by (among others) Steven Wilson and Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree. I’m not sure the “ambient folk” tag really fits – the sound is what you might get with a coffee-house crooner sitting in with a very textural pop group with jazz leanings. Sparse piano, echoey guitar sounds (sometimes distorted like a very quiet Fripp), jazzy sax, and tons of reverb define the core of Samuel Smiles. Front and center is Bowness’s breathy singing, and I suppose his style may not be for everyone (I admit I have to be in a certain mood for him not to put me to sleep). The band’s self-professed emulation of Nick Drake and John Martyn (as well as Bowie, Fripp, and Eno) is apparent in their music, though they don’t come off as copying anything. Bearpark’s guitar, in particular, is quite inventive, ranging from Fripp-esque noodly high solos to feedback-and-volume-pedal background textures. “Sorry Looking Soldier” in particular, is an outstanding example of guitar work. For progressive fans in the audience, I must mention a mellow piano-based version of King Crimson’s “Two Hands” and a cover of Peter Hammill’s “Ophelia” with piano and guitar. The first 1000 copies of the CD come with a bonus disc of live material, some of which dates back to 1992. The presentation is a bit more stripped down on these tracks, even with the addition of a cellist.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 20, 1999 releases

Related artist(s): Tony Harn, Steven Wilson / I.E.M., Tim Bowness, Samuel Smiles, Colin Edwin

Latest news

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more

2019-03-03
Seaprog 2019 Lineup Almost Complete – The Seaprog festival in Seattle is scheduled for June 7-9 this year, and they've announced their lineup of performers. The revitalized Trettioåriga Kriget will cap Friday night, perennial favorites Marbin are on Saturday, and District 97 will finish off the fest on Sunday night. In support, they've booked a stellar variety of artists from the Northwest and around the world, including EchoTest, Markus Reuter and Trey Gunn, and the live debut of the amazing Troot project. » Read more

2019-02-21
You Can Be Part of an Ambient Electronic Project – The Gesture of History is a new electronic project put together by Sam Rosenthal of Black Tape for a Blue Girl, Steve Roach, and violist Sam Shadow. The music started as an instrumental track Rosenthal was working on for a Black Tape album, but took on a life of its own and demanded further enhancements. The majority of the funds raised will go to manufacturing costs for LP and CD editions, as well as other items as detailed on the Kickstarter page. » Read more

2019-01-31
Keyboardist Ingo Bischof R.I.P. – Keyboard player Ingo Bischof, best known as the longtime keyboard player of German band Kraan, passed away on January 29th, 2019. Bischof was born January 2, 1951 in Berlin-Kreuzberg and joined Kraan in 1975. » Read more

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Marble Sheep - Message from Oarfish – Marble Sheep is a Japanese psychedelic rock band playing wild, ecstatic, hypnotic, psychedelic, and noisy rock who were formed in 1987 by ex-White Heaven guitarist Ken Matsutani, the owner of the...  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues