Abandoned Dancehall Dreams (2CD Digibook)

Import digibook is identical in content to the domestic version but just fancier packaging.

"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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Some of you may have been lucky enough to have been following Änglagård from the very beginning, but if you’re anything like me, you came into the game when Änglagård’s small catalog of music was either out of print or near impossible to find without spending a fortune; that is, with the exception of one little disc which somehow was available when snagging a copy of albums like Epilogue seemed to be a Herculean feat. That album was Buried Alive, the live recording of Änglagård’s last show prior to their 1994 breakup. While the liner-notes of Buried Alive reveal a band that was not 100% satisfied, 20 years later with the release of Prog på Svenska—Live in Japan, Änglagård is back and going strong with a new live recording that is rich in dynamic and deep in maturity, a performance that I am confident that they are proud to immortalize for their fans.Prog på Svenska represents the first of three consecutive nights that the masters of dark Swedish prog delivered at Club Città in Japan alongside The Crimson ProjeKCt (featuring the legendary Adrian Belew and Tony Levin). For me personally this is a special album that transports me back to when I witnessed their unbelievable performance only three weeks later at Baja Prog. Among a plethora of canonized acts at the festival (such as Hackett, New Trolls, and Three Friends), Änglagård’s remarkable performance showed that they stand in no one’s shadow. While there’s nothing like being there in person, Prog på Svenska is about as good a live recording and performance as I’ve ever heard on disc. I certainly am jealous of the Japanese fans who got to see them three nights in a row last year.The live-set on this album shows a balanced representation of the old and the new, featuring two tracks from each studio release along with an unreleased intro track which I assume (and hope) will be on Änglagård’s next studio production. So that the anticipation doesn’t kill anyone, I’ll start right off with the new song: ”Introvertus Fugu Part 1.” Perhaps the first thing to know about this track is that it’s our first look into the composition of the new band featuring Linus Kåse and Erik Hammarström alongside Anna, Johan, and Tord. I can happily say that “Introvertus” shows a band that knows how to move forward without abandoning the distinctive identity that they are known for, a fact that strongly hints at a powerful album to come in the future. The opening moments of the song show the band increasingly incorporating elements of modern classical and atonal music through the delicately dark chord changes on the piano before constructing a wave of tension with ambient bass noise, a distinctive guitar motif,  and a descending melody on flute playing against tuned percussion. As the ambient textures continue to swell, a big percussive crash shockingly interjects, setting the stage for an ominous swelling of Mellotron chords, resulting in an eerily delightful sound. The intensity continues to build with a drum roll on snare and cymbals that transition the piece into an aggressive angular instrumental attack featuring howling Minimoog modulation; enter a fiercely dark melody which is doubled or harmonized on most instruments before the band takes the listener into their signature dose of woodsy folkiness. Johan and Linus continue pounding in the rhythm section before the eerie central motif returns to bring “Introvertus” towards its close with the full force of Anna and Linus’ dueling woodwinds, one hanging on the melody while the other produces chaotic squeals before withering off the melody in a very unsettling (but cool) way.After kicking it off with an exciting intro the band takes us back 20 years with “Hostsejd.” The rich dynamics, especially the meticulously controlled Mellotron swells, really shine on this one while some small differences in instrumentation (such as the sax on the first main melody instead of flute) really keep the piece fresh and exciting. Although I was craving the intro on the follow up track, “Längtans Klocka,” the supreme level of interplay between all instruments that starts off the piece is fantastic. Furthermore, the guitar/Mellotron duet at about 6:30 that leads into a memorable theme is quite the highlight. Finally, the circus-y melody towards the end of the song somehow becomes even more diabolic in this slightly stripped down version as Tord’s demented waltzy riff serves as a perfect backdrop for the drunken saxes. Speaking of Tord, it certainly is nice to see him back in the band, and I must add that his guitar playing and sense of emotion is perfect for the band and has improved over the years. This is perhaps most clearly demonstrated on “Jordrök,” a quintessential song in Änglagård’s catalog. The reality of the matter is that despite the fact that the band was quite mature at the time of Hybris‘ release, their capacity to bring out all the nuances in pieces like this shows that they are musicians who have truly refined their craft over the years. “Jordrök” sounds more alive than ever; the Mellotron flute section in the middle, one of the band’s absolute trademark melodies, is to die for, and Linus’ superb use of phrasing and pacing in the piano intro certainly takes this classic piece up several notches.Moving deeper into the performance we see “Sorgmantel,” one of my personal favorites from Viljans Öga. The first thing I noticed about this particular performance is that the intro sounds much more raw due to differences in instrumentation, this version starting out with a guitar and bass call and response. While I absolutely adore the studio version, this new arrangement and performance was also wonderful and brought its own set of advantages to the table. First, the bass/guitar duet at the beginning really exposes the melody and shows you that its not just about fancy instrumentation, it’s a gorgeous melody through and through. Second, the band is not concerned in the least bit with rushing through the performance of this piece; the pacing is delicate, precise, and emotional with plenty of space for ritard and sway as the intro melody gets passed around from guitar to bass and flute and is then countered by the piano, making the fugue-nature of this piece even more evident. The playing is incredibly tight but busting with dynamic throughout as “Sorgmantel” takes its many twists and turns before working its way to a quiet ending; graceful… even breathtaking.To wrap up the night, Änglagård once again goes back to the early 90′s, this time with “Kung Bore” and “Sista Somrar.” Although the former leans more on the folky side of the band, as does much of their first album, the highlight of the piece actually ended up being the mysterious and ambient middle section where the band shows that they have mastered perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of music: playing quietly with vibrant emotion. Between the light swells of guitar, weird effects on bass, a steady organ pattern in the upper register, and a lightly beating drum, this section goes beyond merely doing justice to the original. Finally, the depth and emotion of “Sista Somrar’s” slow, dark intro is, quite frankly, deadly, and goes miles deeper than the original studio recording (which was in and of itself very impressive) as an ominous sax melody flanked by stormy percussion and effects guides us to the unleashing of an uncanny tron female solo voice that will haunt your nightmares for weeks to come.In my opinion, Prog på Svenska—Live in Japan is an essential live album that you don’t want to miss out on. Quite honestly, I am a person who rarely enjoys live albums because oftentimes the performances and production are either significantly worse than the studio recording, or the live version ends up being stripped down to the point where there’s just something missing, or the band simply doesn’t offer an experience which is significant enough to enjoy the live version deeply; in most cases you sort of ‘had to have been there’ to get what’s so great about it. Such is not the case with Änglagård’s latest live documentation. From the performances to the production and the differences in detail from the originals, Prog på Svenska is a stellar capturing of live art through and through. And of course, I might add that if you ever get the chance to see Änglagård perform, take the opportunity; if your significant other isn’t a prog fan, take them anyways. Änglagård’s extreme level of delicacy in phrasing and dynamic is a tough match to beat in progressive music and should hold up even in the face of the snootiest of music connoisseurs." - Progulator
    $18.00
  • "Live In Tokyo is a live performance from November 14, 2012 at Zepp Tokyo for supergroup PSMS, which features drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, The Winery Dogs, Transatlantic), bassist Billy Sheehan (Talas, Mr. Big, David Lee Roth), guitarist Tony MacAlpine & keyboardist Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion, Dream Theater, Billy Idol). This 95 minute concert showcases a wide range of instrumental performances from each of the members careers & collaborations. Included in the set are Shy Boy from Sheehan's band Talas, MacAlpine's The Stranger, Sherinian's Apocalypse 1470 B.C. and Dream Theater's A Change Of Seasons: The Crimson Sunrise."
    $8.00
  • "The Royal Scam is the first Steely Dan record that doesn't exhibit significant musical progress from its predecessor, but that doesn't mean the album is any less interesting. The cynicism that was suppressed on Katy Lied comes roaring to the surface on The Royal Scam -- not only are the lyrics bitter and snide, but the music is terse, broken, and weary. Not so coincidentally, the album is comprised of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen's weakest set of songs since Can't Buy a Thrill. Alternating between mean-spirited bluesy vamps like "Green Earrings" and "The Fez" and jazzy soft rock numbers like "The Caves of Altamira," there's nothing particularly bad on the album, yet there are fewer standouts than before. Nevertheless, the best songs on The Royal Scam, like the sneering "Kid Charlemagne" and "Sign in Stranger," rank as genuine Steely Dan classics." - All Music Guide
    $5.00
  • "When Jethro Tull released Benefit in 1970, it signaled a new, more progressive musical direction for the English band. It also became one of the best-known albums of their career, which is going strong more 60 million records and 40 years later. The Grammy winning group is revisiting that pivotal album with a 2-CD/DVD-Audio collector s edition.The 2-CD/DVD collection comes loaded with a massive amount of music recorded by the band, which at the time featured: multi-instrumentalist frontman Ian Anderson, guitarist Martin Barre, drummer Clive Bunker, pianist John Evan, and bassist Glenn Cornick.The first disc contains the album s 10 original tracks, plus five bonus tracks that include both the U.K. and U.S. stereo versions of "Teacher. " All the songs are newly mixed by Steven Wilson and approved by Ian Anderson. The second disc includes newly remastered versions of rare tracks and singles recorded around the same time as Benefit, such as "Sweet Dream" in both stereo and mono.The audio-only DVD, which is available exclusively with this version, is packed with 58 tracks, including the album and bonus tracks in 5.1 surround sound. It also contains the U.K and U.S. versions of the album. The American version was sequenced differently and replaced the U.K. track "Alive and Well and Living In" with "Teacher. " In addition, the set also comes with a handsome booklet filled with rare photographs, an essay by Martin Webb, and interviews with band members."
    $28.00
  • New remastered 2 CD set is either one of the greatest live albums or worst - depends on how you feel about Hawkwind I suppose. This is the essence of Hawkwind - a sonic orgy of heavy psychedelic space rock. Features three bonus tracks.
    $15.00
  • "Recorded live over 3 nights in October 2003 (17th-19th).In the summer of 2003 Cardiacs were charged with the unenviable task of casting a wincey eye back.Way back to before Sarah hung up her little saxophone, before Tim Quy broke the nausea rule, before THE CONSULTANT and Miss Swift held the reins. Way, way back.For that coming October’s ‘Special Garage Concerts’, Cardiacs were expected to wipe the grime of the dusty archive from thirty-two tunes everyone had long since forgotten about. Cardiacs dutifully frittered away the waning days behind locked doors, exhuming songs from clanking, obsolete machinery and reams of faded manuscript. Music from the band’s conception in 1976 to their ‘coming of age’ in 1983 was given the dressing down THE ALPHABET BUSINESS CONCERN had always wisely insisted it deserved.With the arrival of autumn the songs had somehow taken on a raw, definitive bent. Haphazard approximations you may have previously heard performed by wide-eyed, puny youths were given deftness, muscle and swagger by the four grizzled and worldly-wise men proudly standing their ground under the Cardiacs banner today.This nostalgic arsenal was duly recorded over three consecutive nights at London’s sizeically challenged ‘The Garage’ concert venue. Privileged witnesses described the spectacle as "one-fifth loving recreation, two-fifths exercise in futility and four-fifths sheer brute force."Cunningly encrypted on to two Compact Discs, as never they were meant to be, Volumes One and Two are a unique testament to pure bloody mindedness and musical irrelevance.Both volumes contain music that has never previously been recorded and re-workings of other tunes that many of the faithful claim to have ‘insider knowledge’ of.They don’t have a clue."
    $34.00