Abandoned Dancehall Dreams (Vinyl)

SKU: 0506811
Label:
Inside Out Music
Category:
Progressive Rock
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"In some ways, Abandoned Dancehall Dreams was inevitable. Just as Steven Wilson, his partner in No-Man, ultimately took what is, at the very least, a hiatus from, in addition to No-Man and other projects, his primary gig with Porcupine Tree—pursuing a solo career that's led to increasing success, most recently with the studio recording The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories) and the live/studio EP Drive Home (both Kscope, 2013)—it appears that the time for singer Tim Bowness to step out on his own has also arrived. It's a risky move for an artist whose reputation has been built on more egalitarian projects like the progressive-minded Henry Fool, the aptly dark dance music of Darkroom—and, of course, No-Man—and for more than one reason, but the two most obvious are: that there's nobody to hide behind or blame for decisions made; and, as ex-Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett told Wilson, what Bowness can expect is for about 20% of his No-Man fan base to go along with them when he takes the leap.

But the rewards can be many, too—and, as Wilson has proven, Hackett's advice can be greatly underestimated. Abandoned Dancehall Dreams may have begun as a follow-up to No-Man's dreamily cinematic Schoolyard Ghosts (Kscope, 2008), it soon became clear that, rather than the collaborative effort that was No-Man, this was a record that more clearly reflected Bowness' more personal predilections. The result is an album that may well be his best recording to date under any name, and certainly continues some of No-Man's visual-rich music while, at the same time, stretching well past the boundaries of that group's defining characteristics to become something more powerful, more majestic...more monumental. While 2004's My Hotel Year (One Little Indian) was the first album to bears Bowness' name alone, as he describes in the extra booklet being provided to those who pre-order Abandoned Dancehall Music from the shopfront he has co-managed since 2001, burningshed.com, it was an album ..." created as a means of tying together several incomplete (and very different) projects I had on the go at the time. A solo album in name only, it never wholly felt mine."

Not so, with Abandoned Dancehall Music. There are, of course, many participants on the album's eight songs, inspired by dancehalls of the 1920s through the '60s in many places around the world—most now sitting empty, razed, or converted—but the overall concept belongs to Bowness, and perhaps the biggest surprise is that, while his breathy, romanticized vocal delivery remains as definitive as ever, the music of Abandoned Dancehall Dreams is on a much grander scale than anything suggested by his past work. From King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto's thundering propulsion of the opening "The Warm-Up Man Forever"—a song which could be read as autobiographical, were it not for Bowness' assertions to the contrary, possessing ..."elements of people I've come across on the fringes of the music, literary and art worlds over the last few decades and was an attempt to understand certain ways of thinking that are more than a little alien to me"—it's clear that there's the Tim Bowness people have come to know, and then there's the more ambitious and expansive Tim Bowness of Abandoned Dancehall Dreams.

Musically, the opening song's tribal drums reference the '80s work of artists like Peter Gabriel, while at the same time, Henry Fool guitarist Michael Bearpark adds more suitably contemporary guitar work and Andrew Keeling—the man who collaborated with King Crimson co-founder Robert Fripp and engineer/producer David Singleton on the innovative The Wine of Silence (DGM Live, 2012)—contributes some truly heady string arrangements (here, and elsewhere throughout the album ) that are created, single-handedly by renowned concert violinist Charlotte Dowding, one overdub at a time.

"Smiler at 50" is only eclipsed by the even more epically dynamic "I Fought Against the South" as Abandoned Dancehall Music's longest track, though they're both only half a minute apart, and both exceed the eight-minute mark. The two tracks begin in somewhat balladic territory, with Mastelotto's backbeat-driven groove and Anna Phoebe's lyrical violin driving the first, song-form six minutes of "Smiler at 50"—its bittersweet lyrics best described by its concluding lines: "She weeps for places where she's been / And those she'll never know." But a near-silence interlude leads into flat-out symphonic progressive rock territory for its final two minutes, Mastelotto thundering behind an orchestral/choral tour de force from Henry Fool keyboardist Stephen Bennett that's turned heavier still by Bearpark's crunching power chords, referencing past precedents like Genesis as well as some of Steven Wilson's own contemporary work, albeit less emphatic on the chops front and more decidedly on mood—though Wilson's work is, of course, never shy on mood either. Still, Bowness' music has never sounded this magnificent, this magisterial.

The sequencing of a record's material into a cogent whole—one which represents something far greater than the sum of its individual songs—often makes the difference between a good record and a great one. Following "Smiler at 50" with the sparer, piano-driven "Songs of Distant Summers" makes clear that Bowness knows how to pace an album, delivering a respite from what came before as the singer, in collaboration with pianist Stuart Laws, shapes a song about that very thing: collaborative writing, and the perils of life experience getting in the way. Still, this isn't just a simple ballad; instead, processed and wordless vocals, synth lines, orchestral swells and other atmospherics, as well as volume pedal and delay-driven guitar, turn its 90-second ending into an evocative instrumental passage of glorious, enveloping warmth and grace.

But more than simply being his best recording to date, Abandoned Dancehall Dreams is also Bowness' most eclectic. Electronics, synths and atmospherics may define much of an album that sits somewhere between the dreamy romanticism of No-Man and the more energetic progressive leanings of Henry Fool, but Bowness isn't afraid to unplug and use acoustic guitars, courtesy of Keeling—who turns out to be an even greater talent than already known, contributing guitars, bass, organ and percussion to the brighter "Waterfoot." Keeling also plays a major role on "I Fought Against the South," his flute work reminiscent of Court of the Crimson King-era Crimson, acting as a mid-song segue to a dramatic coda that builds—with Bearparks' power chords blazing over Henry Fool drummer Andrew Booker and one-time No-Man bassist Pete Morgan's august pulse—to a climactic peak before dissolving to a gentler conclusion, Keeling's multilayered flutes once again coming to the fore.

"Smiler at 52" acts as a linking premise, picking up on the character of "Smiler at 50" who, just two years later, is alone, as Bowness sings: "There were days when she was missed / There were days not like this," his delivery as poignant as ever on a tune also defined by the electronic texture of programmed drum beats, near-celestial wordless vocals and subdued but soaring strings, all anchored by Porcupine Tree's Colin Edwin, revealing more about his own talents by playing double bass, rather than the electric bass he uses on "Smiler at 50" and "Dancing for You," the latter one of two tunes where Steven Wilson (who mixed the album) contributes musically, in this case drum programming that's juxtaposed with Mastelotto's acoustic kit. Wilson also adds some guitar to the brief, tuned drum-driven closer, "Beaten By Love," broadening Bearpark's extant work as Booker's tribal drums bring the album full circle.

If there's never been any doubt about Bowness' talents, Abandoned Dancehall Dreams is, nevertheless, a revelation. His vocal style has long since grown into an instantly recognizable one, but as a writer he's never asserted himself as he has here. Lyrically he may still continue to explore the darker, more melancholic subjects with which he's long been associated, but with Abandoned Dancehall Dreams Bowness has stepped up his compositional acumen, drawing on sources ranging from Peter Gabriel and Japan to Talk Talk and King Crimson, but the end result sounding like nobody but Tim Bowness. It appears that live appearances to perform this material will be limited to a small handful of dates—where, in collaboration with the rest of Henry Fool, he'll also be performing music from that group's small but strong discography, as well as some tunes from the No-Man repertoire—but if this album achieves the critical and popular acclaim it deserves—and the advance buzz certainly suggests it will—then it will also, hopefully, be an opportunity for Bowness, like Wilson, to step out from the shadow of a group and become the leader that, based on the destined-to-be-classic Abandoned Dancehall Dreams, he's clearly ready—and meant—to be." - Jon Kelman/All About Jazz

Track Listing: CD1 (Abandoned Dancehall Dreams): The Warm-Up Man Forever; Smiler at 50; Songs of Distant Summers; Waterfoot; Dancing for You; Smiler at 52; Beaten By Love; I Fought Against the South. CD2 (Abandoned Dancehall Outtakes and Mixes): Songs of Distant Summers (extended band version); The Warm-Up Man Forever (band version); The Sweetest Bitter Pill; Abandoned Dancehall Dream; There Were Days (Smiler at 52, Grasscut mix); Dancing for Youth (Dancing for You, UXB mix); Sounds of Distant Summers (Sounds of Distant Summers, Richard Barbieri mix).

Personnel: Tim Bowness: vocals; mellotron (CD1#1), piano (CD1#1), keyboards (CD1#6), drum programming (CD1#6), guitar (CD1#7, CD2#5), instruments (CD2#4); Michael Bearpark: guitar solo (CD1#1, CD1#5, CD2#6), guitars (CD1#2, CD1#3, CD1# 7, CD1#8, CD2#1-3, CD2#5, CD2#7), guitar atmospherics (CD1#5, CD2#6); Charlotte Dowding: violin ensemble (CD1#1, CD1#4, CD1#6, CD2#3); Andrew Keeling: string arrangement (CD1#1, CD1#6, CD1#7, CD2#3), acoustic guitars (CD1#4), bass (CD1#4), organ (CD1#4), percussion (CD1#4), flutes (CD1#7); Pat Mastelotto: drums (CD1#1, CD1#2, CD1#5, CD2#6); Pete Morgan: bass (CD1#1); Stephen Bennett: Nord Electro 3 CP70 (CD1#2, CD1#3, CD1#5, CD1#7, CD2#5-7), Novatron M400 (CD1#2-5, CD1#7, CD1#8, CD2#3, CD2#5-7), Godwin String Concert (CD1#2, CD1#5, CD1#7, CD2#5-6), Moog Minimoog OS (CD1#2, CD1#4, CD1#5, CD1#7, CD1#8, CD2#3, CD2#5-6), Oberheim OB8 (CD1#2, CD1#5, CD1#7, CD2#5-6), the Spitfire orchestra (CD1#2), Fender Rhodes MK1 (CD1#2, CD1#4, CD1#8, CD2#3), upright piano (CD1#2), Korg MS20 mini (CD1#4), drum machine programming (CD1#5), Nord Electro 3 organ (CD1#7, CD2#5), keyboards (CD2#1-2); Colin Edwin: bass (CD1#2, CD1#5, CD2#6), double bass (CD1#6); Anna Phoebe: violin (CD1#2, CD1#7, CD2#5); Steve Bingham: violin (CD1#3, CD2#1-2, CD2#7); Stuart Laws: piano (CD1#3, CD2#7), synth pads (CD1#3, CD2#7), Taurus bass (CD1#3, CD2#7), atmospherics (CD1#3, CD2#7), percussion (CD1#3, CD2#1-2, CD2#7), keyboards (CD2#1-2), effects (CD2#3); Eliza Legzedina and Matt Ankers: The Spontaneous UEA Vocal Ensemble (CD1#5, CD2#6); Steven Wilson: drum machine addition (CD1#5, CD2#6), guitar (CD1#8); Andrew Booker: drums (CD1#7, CD1#8, CD2#1-3, CD2#5); Pete Morgan: bass (CD1#7, CD1#8, CD2#3, CD2#5); Andrew Phillips (Grasscut): additional instrumentation (CD2#5), programming (CD2#5); Pete Morgan (UXB): additional instrumentation (CD2#6), programming (CD2#6); Richard Barbieri: keyboards (CD2#7), synthesizers (CD2#7), percussion programming (CD2#7).

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  • "While "Airbourne" (released in 1976) represents the declining years in terms of Curved Air's success and popularity, it does have some historical significance as it was the band's last official studio album. "Airborne" is also notable as Stewart Copeland, who went on to find superstardom as drummer with the Police, plays "heavy artillery" (i.e. drums) here. He had already appeared on Curved Air's "Midnight wire" album, which was released just after the reunion of (most of) the original line up for "Curved Air live". From that re-union, violinist Daryl Way remained in the band, the line up for "Airbourne" being completed by guitarist Mick Jacques, and Tony Reeves on bass.Copeland, who had recently married lead singer Sonja Kristina, participated in the song writing for the first time when he co-wrote the music for the opening track, "Desiree" (which was released as a single) along with Jacques, and the co-wrote lyrics with his new wife.The three Daryl Way tracks are the eye catchers here, in particular "Moonshine". This track stands head an shoulders above the other songs on the album, especially in prog terms. While not quite as appealing as previous Curved Air masterpieces such as "Vivaldi" ("Air conditioning"), or "Metamorphosis" ("Air cut"), "Moonshine", which runs to about 10 minutes, is an impressive piece of work. The pace and mood of the track change regularly throughout, moving from soft delicate passages, to virtuoso violin by Way, and some fine symphonic keyboards. At times, there are echoes of Gentle Giant among others.The rest of the tracks effectively play a supporting role. Side one consists of five short numbers. "Desiree", is a pop-rock opener, which features multi-tracked vocals by Sonja Kristina, and some decent, if brief, lead guitar. Quite why the band felt the need to multi-track Kristina's voice is something of a mystery, but it is a sound which features on several of the tracks here. Copeland's composition "Kids to blame" is a fairly innocuous piece of pop rock, but he took it with him to The Police, where it featured in their live act.The closing track on side one, "Touch of Tequila", is the antithesis of "Moonshine", being a dreadful pop influenced song, which sees Kristina sounding a bit too like Irish Eurovision star Dana!There are a couple of decent ballads, "Broken lady", co-written by Sonja Kristina, and Daryl Way's lullaby "Dazed", which closes the album."Airbourne" is an album of peaks and troughs, ranging from the excellent prog of "Moonshine" to the disastrous pop of "Touch of Tequila". In all though, a worthwhile effort, which will, in the main, please fans of the band." - ProgArchives
    $19.00
  • "It has been an eventful year or so in the world of Haken. In September 2013, the sextet released what can only be described as a masterpiece of progressive music in the form of their third album, the magnificent ‘The Mountain’. This album received almost universal critical acclaim upon its release and even led to interest from the likes of Mike Portnoy (Flying Colors, Transatlantic) and Dream Theater’s Jordan Rudess. In the case of the former, it led to an invitation to play the inaugural ‘Progressive Nation At Sea’, but thanks to both ringing endorsements, the door to the American market has opened more widely of late. And if that wasn’t enough, Haken recently received no less than three nominations in the Progressive Music Awards, quite an achievement for a band so relatively young.However, with the smooth, also comes the rough and almost immediately following the release of this ‘breakthrough’ album, bassist Tom MacLean announced his departure from Haken. An apparently amicable split, it was nevertheless a hurdle that had to be overcome at a point when the largest wave of the band’s career was about to be crested. An international audition invitation was extended and, following an extensive search, a young American by the name of Conner Green was assimilated into the Haken collective. Welcome sir!In many ways, ‘Restoration’ a three-track EP is as much a bedding-in of their new colleague as it is an opportunity to maintain the momentum created by ‘The Mountain’ whilst a new full-length album is brought to life. That said, to consider ‘Restoration’ a stop-gap is disingenuous in the extreme. It may only contain three tracks, but when the three tracks last well over half an hour and sound this good, who cares?The three compositions that make up this EP are very loosely based on tracks from the bands 2007/08 demo days, thoroughly re-envisioned, re-worked and re-produced in order to reflect the changing personnel and the experience gained since the demos were originally written. The result is, frankly, stunning.Whilst it took me a good many spins and many hours of effort to get fully submerged into the world of ‘The Mountain’, the music on ‘Restoration’ is much more immediate to these ears. No less complex and challenging of course, but for some reason, the music has ‘clicked’ much more quickly here.The EP opens up with ‘Darkest Light’, (Official video below) an energetic track that ably demonstrates the up-tempo and powerful side of Haken well. It’s an agile composition too that alters pace and timing signatures seemingly at will and pulls in influences from everyone from Dream Theater to Meshuggah. The latter is primarily due to the impressive combination of Ray Hearne’s powerful drumming, the chunky guitar tones courtesy of Charlie Griffiths and Richard Henshall and Green’s intricate bass work. Importantly however, the song is never derivative and contains everything you now expect from a band at the height of their powers. It’s a piece of music that oozes class but also offers that touch of playful cheekiness that has become synonymous with the Haken sound.‘Earthlings’ is a completely different proposition entirely. For my money, its closest reference point would be ‘Deathless’ from ‘Visions’ in so far as it is a much more introspective track with real atmosphere and a quiet, brooding intensity that is utterly beguiling. The melodies are much more immediate, much more pronounced and the whole thing builds beautifully and stubbornly towards a fulfilling climax that pushes all the right buttons.The undisputed star of the show however, is ‘Crystallised’. At over 19 minutes, it offers a return of the Haken ‘epic’, joining the likes of ‘Visions’ and ‘Celestial Elixir’ in an already formidable armoury. If anything, ‘Crystallised’ may be even better than the aforementioned, thereby easily taking its place among the very best that Haken has ever created.First and foremost, the sheer ambition is staggering. The composition begins unassumingly enough but quickly reveals a more grandiose underbelly thanks to some lush orchestral arrangements. From then on, the gloves well and truly come off and Haken take us on a wondrous journey full of twists and turns, light and shade, lengthy and dextrous instrumental segments and gorgeous melodies that stay with you long after the music has ended.There are echoes of those Gentle Giant influences and nods towards ‘Cockroach King’ et al in some of the a capella segments as well as hints of ‘Pareidolia’ at other times, thanks to that by now familiar delivery of vocalist Ross Jennings. Never once do the extended instrumental passages, led by the flamboyant keys of Diego Tejeida feel contrived or out of place; they are full of those classic progressive overindulgences, further reinforcing the importance of the likes of Yes, early Genesis and many others, but crucially, they fit in with the core of the composition and seamlessly segue from one to another perfectly.And then, everything comes together in what I can only describe as a stunningly epic finale, the kind where the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end and you find yourself grinning from ear to ear, enveloped in a musical utopia. The melodies are so uplifting and gorgeous that, coupled with the grandiose return of the orchestral embellishments, mere words find it hard to adequately express just how good it makes you feel.The bones of these songs may have been written many years ago in the band’s infancy. However, they have been brought back to life in the most brilliant way possible; taking everything that’s been good about the band in recent years and applying them to their early past to create something truly special. I only wish that ‘Restoration’ was six, seven or eight songs long. Mind you, if it were, I think I might have fainted from bliss before reaching the conclusion." - Man Of Much Metal blog
    $14.00
  • The beauty and the beast wars are over and Epica has won. Until Floor Jansen comes through with her new project we have to consider Simone Simons the last woman standing. This is the band's fifth studio album and probably their most bombastic. Stunning female vocals mixed with death growls and a wall of synthesized orchestrations and power chords. You all know the drill by now. These guys are the masters of the genre.
    $13.00
  • Michael Romeo doesn't work quickly.  The man takes his time and a new Symphony X album is ready when its been honed to perfection.  Underworld is the first new album in four years.  To get to the point its ridiculously great.  Up through V, the band were the modern agents of neoclassical/symphonic metal.  With The Odyssey the band took a left turn with Russell Allen's vocals being more agressive and a pervasive overall crunchiness, heaviness to the sound.  Perhaps a bit less symphonic sounding.  With Underworld fans of the "old style" will smile once again.  The band has found a way to balance both sides of their sound.  Its heavy but extremely melodic.  Russell's vocals are spot on and Mr. Romeo's solos have an organic flow that will sweep you through the tune.  Its a beautiful marriage of styles - not too much of either direction that the band has exhibited in the past.  Toss in a theme built around Dante's Inferno and you've totally sucked me back in to the fold.  BUY OR DIE!"A lot has happened with New Jersey-based progressive metal band SYMPHONY X since the Iconoclast album was released four years ago. Singer ‘Sir’ Russell Allen recorded and toured behind several releases with ADRENALINE MOB, toured with TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA and recorded the album The Great Divide with ALLEN-LANDE. Bassist Mike Lepond toured with HELSTAR and released his excellent solo album under the name SILENT ASSASSINS. Keyboardist Michael Pinnella released a solo album and guitarist Michael Romeo made guest appearances on some albums. Drummer Jason Rullo battled and successfully recovered from heart failure in 2013.Four years later, SYMPHONY X delivers another fantastic album, the band sounding just as powerful as Iconoclast, and amazingly never missing a beat. Titled Underworld, it is sort of a concept album, loosely based on Dante’s epic poem Inferno. Dante’s Inferno is not a totally original topic in the metal world; ICED EARTH featured an epic song based on it on their 1995 album Burnt Offerings and SEPULTURA wrote a concept album based on it with 2006’s Dante XXI, while SYMPHONY X themselves included references to it on their 1997 album The Divine Wings Of Tragedy. Several other metal bands have also been influenced by the poem.SYMPHONY X do not follow the tale word for word, but use it more as an inspiration. Michael Romeo is quoted as saying that the album has a theme of “going to hell and back for something or someone you care about.” He also said that this album is more about “the song” instead of the album as a whole, allowing it to flow better from song to song. This doesn’t mean every song is an attempt at a single. Romeo’s intent when writing songs for Underworld was for people to be able to take in the whole album in one listening. (The total album length is just over an hour, compared to Iconoclast’s two discs that were around 83 minutes).To be honest, the last two SYMPHONY X albums, 2007’s Paradise Lost and 2011’s Iconoclast were my favorite albums released by the band so far. I refer to them as the “angry” SYMPHONY X, mainly due to Russell Allen’s vocal delivery and the aggressive music on those particular albums. So, I waited to see if we would get a third album in this same vein from SYMPHONY X. The songs on Underworld seem to alternate between prog and aggression, but for the most part, the album is not as “angry” as Iconoclast. The album strikes a perfect balance between prog and power. Some songs are aggressive without being “angry”. There are definitely more classic SYMPHONY X elements here than on recent releases.The album is much more accessible than previous albums. The songs overall are shorter (most clocking in at around the 5-6 minute mark), and more to the point than on previous albums. For example, “Kiss Of Fire” is one of the best tracks I’ve ever heard by SYMPHONY X. It immediately became a favorite of mine on this album, with the verse, “Bring down the hammer, with serious anger – It’s me against the world!” section and the chorus becoming some of my favorite moments. This song probably represents the album to me more than any other, but the album is filled with classics, such as opener “Nevermore”, a ferocious track that is aggressive in the verses, while the chorus is more melody-driven. The title track follows, with many twists, turns and speed sections. “Without You” is a standout track. With its guarded delivery by Allen and acoustic guitar flowing in the background, it is probably the mellowest moment on Underworld, but that’s not a bad thing. The chorus is the focus of the track, with Allen performing some of his best work. The song probably has the most potential as a single. Another solid track, “Charon”, named for the ferry boatman of the underworld, follows. This track has a middle-eastern flavor to it.The longest track on the album (9:24 in length) follows, the excellent “To Hell And Back”. This song has so many great parts, it’s hard to pick a particular favorite, possibly Allen’s soaring vocal on the chorus or the “on and on and on / no quarter asked, no quarter given” section. “In My Darkest Hour” follows and is another favorite of mine, featuring speed riffing parts, mixed with a melodic chorus. Allen really shines on this song. “Run With The Devil” is even more up-tempo and another one of the more accessible songs due to the chorus. “Swan Song” finds keyboardist Pinnella taking the bulk of the spotlight with his piano flourishes. The album closes with the excellent “Legend”. Allen’s aggressive pre-chorus vocals and melodic chorus vocals make this an instant classic.I believe the playing on Underworld is at another level for the band. Lepond’s bass work is spectacular throughout and Jason Rullo makes a real statement with his drum performance. Fantastic work from keyboardist Michael Pinnella and of course guitarist Michael Romeo’s amazing riffs and solos are worth the price alone. But you get more, don’t you? You get one of the best singers in metal, Sir Russell Allen, making yet another classic album even better with his voice.The album’s exquisite cover artwork (once again by illustrator Warren Flanagan) features the return of the SYMPHONY X masks, around which are eight symbols that represent the circles of hell: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, and fraud. The symbol for treachery, the ninth circle, is underneath the masks, and hopefully will be revealed in full inside the album packaging.Underworld is a great album, which grew on me the more I listened to it. SYMPHONY X are masters of American prog metal, and have been for quite some time. Underworld further cements that reputation, and will undoubtedly please fans of all eras of the band." - KNAC.com 
    $23.00
  • New vinyl pressing of the band's magnificent second album.  Remastered numbered limited edition of 500 copies.  Gatefold sleeve and has a nice large fold out poster.
    $32.00