Exposé Online banner

No-Man — Speak
(Materiali Sonori MASO CD 90111, 1989/1999, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2000-05-01

Speak Cover artNo-Man began back in 1987 as a collaboration between Steve Wilson (pre-Porcupine Tree) and vocalist Tim Bowness. Over the years since then, the band has released a number of albums and EPs, mostly in what might be called an intelligent dance-pop vein, rather like an updated version of Japan or less world-beat Cocteau Twins. The Japan comparison is especially apt since Bowness’s voice sounds quite a bit like David Sylvian’s. In addition to their pop side, the band has always had another face, a lush, romantic, near-ambient sound, first documented on a cassette-only release in 1993 called Speak: 1988-89. Now some of that material is seeing its first appearance on CD, but apparently the band were not content to leave the past alone: two songs from the original have been dropped, and one (a cover of Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon” from the same time period) added. In addition, all of the vocals have been rerecorded, and two of the songs are completely new performances of songs from the original tape. In any case, it makes for a very interesting listen, and there’s no reason the history of it should be more than a tiny note in the credits. The music is achingly beautiful, with occasional bits of edginess, and many inventive arrangements. I’m particularly glad to hear the contributions of former No-Man violinist Ben Coleman (though he’s only on three tracks) — his flashy playing provides a nice contrast to the spacious atmosphere and generally slow tempos. This is great music for moods of quiet alertness, but not recommended for those allergic to reverb.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 19, 1999 releases, 1989 recordings

Related artist(s): No-Man, Steven Wilson / I.E.M., Tim Bowness

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Asgard - Arkana – Arkana is the latest offering from the Italian neo-progressive band Asgard. Their sound is full of power and grandeur, very symphonic, with affected vocals, shifting moods and almost schizophrenic...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues