Memories of Machines – “Warm Winter”

17 05 2011

Memories of Machines is a collaboration between no-man vocalist Tim Bowness and Giancarlo Erra from the Italian band NosoundMemories of Machines formed in 2006, and Warm Winter is the band’s first release.

“Stories
Come out of other stories
Lead to other stories
New memories of machines”


The album opener, New Memories of Machines sets the scene for the album, which is a mix of electronic and acoustic sounds, making an album of songs alternating between traditional and ambient / classical arrangements.  The album kicks into life with the second track, Before We Fall, with a powerful interplay between the acoustic and electric playing of Giancarlo, and backing vocals from All About Eve’s Julianne Regan.

“It’s not love how you see me
It’s not love how we touch”

Listen to Before We Fall

iPhone / iPad link: http://soundcloud.com/tim-bowness/before-we-fall

Regular Bowness listeners will already be familiar with Beautiful Songs You Should Know, which appeared on no-man’s Schoolyard Ghosts album from 2008, as well as an earlier Nosound version in 2006.  The Memories of Machines version has a more organic feel than no-man’s take, and is driven by Marianne de Chastelaine’s emotive cello lines.

There is a lot of optimism in the first set of songs on Warm Winter, almost as if the early part of the album maps out the formative stages of a relationship (playing a prospective lover the songs that have defined your life to date, moving to an unfamiliar city, “Trading the ghosts for someone new”) and as the album progresses, the songs document the cracks that appear in the relationship.

Warm Winter is a piece of rare beauty, and I’m sure will be an album highlight for a lot of people.  It’s also possibly the most uplifting song sung by Bowness to date.  I personally find that sad songs are the ones that usually affect me emotionally, but Warm Winter is a rare exception to that rule.  Whilst it is certainly not a KC and the Sunshine Band soundalike, it is uncharacteristically positive.  The track also has one of Tim’s finest vocal performances, with echoes of mid-period Bowie in the vocal phrasing and ending with a powerful guitar solo (one of the few on the album) from Giancarlo.

The optimism starts to peel away with Lucky You, Lucky Me, and the appearance of the mellotron heralds an appearance from Steven Wilson (no-man / Porcupine Tree), who also adds guitar to the track, in addition to his role in mixing the whole album.  One of the highlights of the Warm Winter album is the mix, and the man Wilson (as usual) does not disappoint.  A lot of attention has also gone into the sequencing of the album, and it deserves your full attention, sounding at it’s best played in the way the band intended you to hear it, not with the songs scattered with no care all over some random playlist.

“I take my words
And use my words
To heal the hurt and the blame.”

Change Me Once Again is a tale of control and compromise, with a haunting chorus lit up by a simple piano riff and the layered vocals of Julianne Regan.

Listen to Change Me Once Again:

iPhone / iPad link: http://soundcloud.com/memoriesofmachines/change-me-once-again-1

Something In Our Lives features an appearance from OSI / Fates Warning’s Jim Matheos, whilst Lost And Found In The Digital World is built over Robert Fripp’s soundscapes and haunting trumpet from UMA’s Aleksei Saks, giving the track a Brilliant Tree era David Sylvian feel.

“Lost and found in the digital world.
Lost and found.
It’s time for letting go.”

Schoolyard Ghosts is a solo Bowness composition that was originally destined for the last no-man album of the same name, and although the song didn’t appear on the no-man album in the end, some of the tune leaked into no-man’s Mixtaped.

Add to this the performances on the track from recent no-man live band members Michael Bearpark, Stephen Bennett, Andy Booker and long-term Bowness collaborator Peter Chilvers, and the track Schoolyard Ghosts will sound familiar to most no-man listeners.

“You and Jules down vodka shots
To hide the feelings that you’ve got.
You love her eyes, you love her mouth,
You love her put on Rock-chick pout.”

An intensely personal Bowness lyric and the only track with real progressive leanings (the keyboard solo recalls …And Then There Were Three era Genesis), Schoolyard Ghosts has some wonderful interplay between the musicians.

“The schoolyard ghosts that haunt your dreams,
Hold you back and make you feel unclean.”

As the final note fades, the album’s closing piece, the nearly 7½ minute long At The Centre Of It All slowly fades into view.  This track became my instant favourite when I first heard the album, and my opinion hasn’t changed many months later.

A mostly electronic piece, with suspended piano notes and deep cello cutting through the glacial strings, a delay-heavy Bowness vocal intones

“All the things that were meant to be,
All the love you were meant to feel,
Became too hard to reveal.”

Porcupine Tree’s Colin Edwin contributes double bass to the song, as Giancarlo’s restrained guitar bookends the deep synth lines, as the “Beautiful Songs You Should Know”  sadly become “Just pointless lists at the centre of it all.”

A moving end to a beautiful album.

Tracklisting:

New Memories Of Machines (1.31)
Before We Fall (5.12)
Beautiful Songs You Should Know (4.59)
Warm Winter (5.34)
Lucky You, Lucky Me (4.17)
Change Me Once Again (5.56)
Something In Our Lives (4.11)
Lost And Found In The Digital World (5.14)
Schoolyard Ghosts (5.32)
At The Centre Of It All (7.26)

Memories Of Machines is:
Tim Bowness – vocals, guitar on Schoolyard Ghosts
Giancarlo Erra – guitars, keyboards

Produced and arranged by Tim Bowness and Giancarlo Erra
Mixed by Steven Wilson at Nomansland
Mastered by Jon Astley at Close To The Edge

© 2011 Mascot Records

Buy Memories of Machines at Amazon UK
Buy Memories of Machines at Amazon US
Buy Memories of Machines from The Burning Shed

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2 responses

21 05 2011
Clark Fenton

It’s been a long time coming, but well worth the wait. Listening to Memories of Machines on vinyl right now. Such beautiful music; Tim has never sounded better and Giancarlo’s guitar and keyboards add to the fantastic melancholia of it all. Absolutely brilliant!!

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28 12 2011
End of Year Favourites « Mr Kinski's Music Shack

[…] Memories of Machines – Warm Winter […]

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