Most well-known for his work in the duo No-Man, his long running partnership with Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree, Bass Communion), Englishman Tim Bowness established himself throughout the 1990s as a singer and musician with an ear for passionate and passionately wry music. His variety and range of musical interests, similar in scope to Wilson's own various explorations, resulted in a series of bands and joint efforts with friends covering everything from experimental, cutting edge dance music to torch songs and progressive rock.
Bowness, born and raised in Warrington in Cheshire, first became interested in music during his childhood in the mid-'70s, while the end of that decade saw him completely taken by a wide variety of influences. Peter Hammill was a particular favorite, while others included Robert Wyatt, David Bowie, and Nick Drake, with a strong and continual interest in what Bowness describes as "obsessive singer/songwriters" -- Scott Walker, Nico, Kevin Coyne, and Tim Buckley are other examples. In interviews, Bowness has also mentioned everything from classic disco and post-punk efforts to his parents' own collection of classic crooners, notably Frank Sinatra. Finding himself in a dead-end civil service job when he was 18, Bowness began singing initially to bring some of his poetry to life and proceeded from there to regular musical work.
Bowness' work in the 1980s found him putting his interests into practice via a number of different bands, starting with the Manchester-based group Still and continuing through Always the Stranger and After the Stranger. The turning point was 1986 -- Bowness, now singing with the group Plenty, was contacted by Wilson to see if an After the Stranger track could be added to a compilation he was assembling. This in turn led to longer conversations and visits, resulting in the formation of No Man Is an Island, later becoming No-Man.
From then on, Bowness has created a slew of often amazing releases in many different areas. Besides No-Man, his most notable efforts include Samuel Smiles, a self-described ambient folk band that began in 1991 but first released albums in 1999, and Darkroom, initially a Samuel Smiles side project that expanded into its own definite sphere, exploring drum'n'bass, techno, and minimalism. A collaboration album with former Japan (and Porcupine Tree) keyboardist Richard Barbieri, Flame, appeared in 1994, while another wholly new group, Henry Fool also formed. On top of all that, there's an unreleased duo album between Bowness and Samuel Smiles/Henry Fool member Peter Chilvers, while Bowness himself has recorded a large amount of solo material which may surface one day as well. It's a busy life, perhaps, but compared to so many uncreative non-entities who wait two or three years between dull albums, there's little doubt Bowness is on many levels in a class by himself. ~ Ned Raggett