Tim Bowness is best known as the other half of the British art pop duo NO-MAN, which also includes Steven Wilson. For some reason, NO-MAN‘s music has failed to resonate with me, although I like most of Wilson’s projects, but I did enjoy “No Celebrations,” the OSI song that Bowness sang on as a guest vocalist. Since Wilson has been busy with his other endeavors lately, Bowness has concentrated on his solo career; “Lost in the Ghost Light” is his fourth solo album overall and his third in the past 3 years.
The concept of “Lost in the Ghost Light” deals with an elderly rock musician reflecting on his career and the changes in the music industry, as well as their impact on his private life. Bowness has gathered an impressive line-up for the album that includes bassist Colin Edwin [PORCUPINE TREE] and guitarist Bruce Soord [THE PINEAPPLE THIEF], to name a few. Out of the additional guest musicians, the most famous has got to be the legendary JETHRO TULL flutist, Ian Anderson.
The music has a lush ’70s feel reminiscent of bands like CAMEL, which complements the album’s theme. The keyboards play a salient role, and old-school sounds such as the organ on the opener “World of Yesterday” and the Moog on “Moonshot Manchild” add a lot to the classic feel of the album. You’d be hard-pressed to find distorted guitar riffs here, but the 6-strings are in the spotlight during the rocking “Kill the Pain That’s Killing You” and “You’ll Be the Silence” has a brilliant guitar solo towards the end. String arrangements enrich “Nowhere Good to Go,” while the flute makes closer “Distant Summers” memorable. However, it’s Bowness himself who is in the center – his delivery reminds me a bit of Peter Nicholls of IQ and is a little on the laconic side, but dulcet enough to justify the vocal-centric approach of the songs. “You Wanted to Be Seen” is my favorite track here, starting off beautifully as a piano ballad and culminating in a glorious crescendo where the guitars roar and the violins sound dramatic.
“Lost in the Ghost Light” manages not to sound like tired classic prog worship despite its retro leanings, and although the instrumentation is fairly subdued, even the 9-minute tracks remain compelling until the very end. The sedative nature of the music makes the songs blend into each other a little bit, but instead of making the listening experience boring, the result is a cohesive record that is pleasurable to listen to – the 43 minutes fly by more quickly than you notice. However, I can’t help thinking that at least one more rock-oriented or otherwise powerful song would’ve been a good addition, especially considering the “rock star” theme. The combination of Bowness’s calm voice and intense music is so successful on “Kill the Pain That’s Killing You,” just like the OSI collaboration back in the day. On the other hand, the gentle and ’70s-influenced approach suits the reflective mood of the concept, and “Lost in the Ghost Light” is a good chill-out album as is. In Musicalypse’s Playlist of My Life series, one of the slots is for “a song that makes you want to curl up on the couch with a hot beverage,” and I could place this whole record in that spot, which is not a bad thing!
Written by Wille Karttunen
- Worlds of Yesterday
- Moonshot Manchild
- Kill the Pain That’s Killing You
- Nowhere Good to Go
- You’ll Be the Silence
- Lost in the Ghost Light
- You Wanted to Be Seen
- Distance Summers