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

2020-05-15
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more

2020-05-14
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more

2020-05-06
Florian Schneider RIP – Florian Schneider, one of the founders of the pioneering electronic group Kraftwerk, has died at the age of 73. Co-founder Ralf Hütter announced that his bandmate had passed away from cancer after a brief illness. » Read more

2020-04-23
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more

2020-03-24
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Tim Hodgkinson - Pragma – This is a disc of difficult music since the listener must have the discipline to hear the "big picture" and not get caught in a scattering of perceived dissonant ideas. In the composer's own words:...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues