No-Man - Returning Jesus

Year of Release: 2001
Label: 3rd Stone Records
Catalog Number: Stone 038 CD
Format: CD
Total Time: 54:02:00

As news items about this album started coming our way, I had a bit of fun with the title, Returning Jesus. And I had some fun with the fact that No-Man is actually the work of 10 men, the two at the forefront being Tim Bowness on vocals and Steven Wilson on instruments. Providing support are Colin Edwin on bass and double bass, Steve Jansen on drums, Ian Carr on trumpet, Ben Christophers on acoustic guitar, Ian Dixon on trumpet and flugelhorn, Rick Edwards on percussion, David Kosten on synthesizer and cymbal, and Theo Travis on sax and flute.

Returning Jesus is a mostly somber and ambient affair. Overall, from track to track there isn't much variance in tempo or feel. It is a sleepy album, calm and relaxing enough that you just might drift off, lulled by Bowness vocals. In fact, the average pace is that of a funeral dirge; it's all rather minimalist. Thus it isn't an album that you should listen to when tired or depressed. There are some nice moments - the use of trumpet and sax is quite nice.

Bowness has a pleasant voice, though until I looked at the credits I figured it for Wilson. For comparisons sake, think of an album filled with "Stop Swimming" (from Porcupine Tree's Stupid Dream). I thought of Pink Floyd's "One Of My Turns" (The Wall) with "All That You Are." "Close Your Eyes" is lead by warm, rhythmic percussion with a quiet synth wash, though vocals soon join as the lead. This is one of the few tracks that isn't so ambient in nature as to send you to sleep, but still lulling enough to bring you to a state of calm. String-like synths add a bit of drama, and bass adds an extra pulse to the rhythm. Subtle guitar accents are soon heard as well. Everything is layered, building toward something, as different textures are added. Sting also comes to mind as I thought of "Walking In Your Footsteps" (Synchronicity).

"Returning Jesus" begins with the phrase "slow it all down," which seems ironic given that everything is already slowed down and that if things were any slower they'd stop. I thought a little bit, just a tweensy little bit, of This Strange Engine-era Marillion, but only in regards to Bowness' delivery stylistically. The main focus, other than the vocals, is a single repeating, brassy, drumbeat. What follows is an answer to the previous request -- "Slow It All Down." It's an all instrumental piece -- admittedly vocals are so sparse and widely separated that most tracks feel like instrumentals -- that slowly unfolds; the keys have a sax-string-trumpet quality to them, as neither Carr, Dixon or Travis are credited as playing on this track. Another phrase, "Follow me down to where I'll always be." is repeated at the end of "Lighthouse," a track that almost reaches rock intensity, providing contrast the rest of the album.

I like parts of this album, but it is too monochromatic for me, making it seem very dry, almost dull. The performances and production are very good, but I just find it way too mellow for me personally. This from someone who does listen to a lot of ambient and instrumental music.

Only Rain (7:24) / No Defence (5:20) / Close Your Eyes (8:25) / Carolina Skeletons (5:08) / Outside The Machine (5:48) / Returning Jesus (5:19) / Slow It All Down (3:42) / Lighthouse (8:12) / All That You Are (4:44)

Tim Bowness - vocals
Steven Wilson -instruments
Colin Edwin - bass and double bass
Steve Jansen - drums
Ian Carr - trumpet (1)
Ben Christophers - acoustic guitar (1, 7)
Ian Dixon - trumpet ( 2) and flugelhorn (3, 7)
Rick Edwards - percussion (3)
David Kosten - synthesizer and cymbal (1)
Theo Travis - sax (7) and flute (8)


Genre: Other

Origin UK

Added: July 18th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 719
Language: english


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