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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Henry Fool Men Singing


Henry Fool
Men Singing
K-Scope

Twelve years after their debut, the part-time project of Tim Bowness and keyboardist Stephen Bennett is back in rude health and following such a long gap, understandably raring to go. Essentially the live No-Man band (minus Steven Wilson), Bowness keeps schtum, confining himself entirely to guitar, meshing in neatly with Michael Bearpark’s textural lead work and guest Phil Manzanera, appearing here in his Quiet Sun guise as opposed to his Roxy mode. 

Rippling with a propulsive vigour and halcyon sun-filled glades of what might pass for pastoral prog rock, the emphasis is on feel rather than showy examples of instrumental prowess. Each track undergoes significant episodes of contrasting but complementary atmospheres.

Typical of this is Everyone In Sweden. After the ebullient opening, around Bennett’s joyous synth lines, the territory darkens as magnificent, sweeping melodies are bifurcated with fuzz bass, gnarled sax ruminations and the dreamy ardour of languid mellotron.

Concluding with an insistently angular guitar riff from Bowness and bearing little resemblance to where the track began, the dynamic reach the band is admirable. Collectively they marshal a strange, spacey poetry whose principle tenet is about listening to each other. It’s jazz-rock, Tim, but not as we know it. 

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