This is No-Man's fifth album originally released in 2003. No-Man is a collaboration between vocalist and lyricist Tim Bowness, and Steven Wilson, or "The Hardest Working Man In Showbiz" and this album is a collection of minimalist near ambient and sometimes avant-garde soundscapes over songs that drift along in a dreamy but never unfocused way.
Tim's lyrics are heartfelt paeans to the break up of a relationship as the title track suggests, and melancholy memories in the gorgeous ten minute Photographs In Black And White, amongst other introspective and abstract delights. His voice breathily wanders in and out of the guitar and soundscapes ambient mix, and a harmonium is in there too....and a clarinet...lovely.
If I were to compare Tim's voice with anyone, it would have to be David Cassidy - I kid you not! He has the same range and breathy style. The comparison is purely in a sonic sense, as there any similarity ends.
Reference points include The Blue Nile, and, well not much else really, as it's pretty unique, and No-Man are waaay more productive than the Scottish band, having released six full length albums as well as numerous EPs, DVDs etc in their eighteen year existence, and along with more well known names such as Talk Talk and David Sylvian have helped invent post-rock as we know it. I suppose if Nick Drake had been around in the 21st century, he may well have sounded like this, it's that good.
The curious and the uninitiated are drawn to this long running two man collaboration probably because of Steven Wilson's involvement. Those who have a desire to search out something different will soon be beguiled, but those who are expecting any of Wilson's rock influence, and are not open to other forms of music, or have a simply short attention span will doubtless be disappointed and wander off. It's their loss.
Together We're Stranger is a delight, and I recommend it highly.
4 out of 5.
Note: In 2009 the album was reissued as a 2 disc set including a 5:1 surround sound mix.
A career spanning double cd was released in 2006, taking its title from a song on Together We're Stranger, and is a great starting point for the curious:
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