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, Tim Bowness, Samuel Smiles, Colin Edwin

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Trey Gunn / Marco Minnemann - Modulator – From the outset this recording sounds like a modern update of Eddie Jobson’s UK on steroids, with a scoop of 21st century Crimson on top. It was arrived at in a fascinating way. Master...  (2010) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues