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Returning Jesus

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Amazon's No Man Store


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Since its formation in 1987, over the course of six massively varied studio albums and several compilations, No-Man has produced a unique body of work that has developed from the band's proto Trip-Hop/Ambient origins into something beyond easy categorisation.

After receiving ecstatic press reviews, indie top 20 hits and high profile contracts in the early 1990s (with One Little ... Read more in Amazon's No Man Store

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for 24 albums, 6 photos, discussions, and more.

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Returning Jesus + Wild Opera + Speak
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Product details

  • Audio CD (27 Mar. 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hidden Art
  • ASIN: B00005A7O3
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 387,640 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Product Description


The job of reinventing the ballad would require more imagination and ingenuity than most acts would consider worthwhile. But then those are two attributes that experimental duo Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson--separately known as Darkroom and Porcupine Tree--have never been short of, and with their fourth long-player, Returning Jesus under the No-Man moniker they take a valiant stab at remodelling the singer/songwriter's favourite fallback into lush soundscapes and ambient pop. Their method is simple: set a heartfelt lament to a backing of anything from dinner jazz, to atmospheric analogue noise and bleary-eyed country, veer off after a couple of verses into an abstract instrumental break before dropping the vocals in for one last verse. It's not an exact science and the formula works better on some tracks than others; the stirring cinematic strings and languid trumpets of "Only Rain" would have been better left as an instrumental, and "Outside the Machine" sounds like two gorgeously sensual, epic and seemingly unrelated pieces of music bolted uncomfortably together. Even so, when it works, as with the Bowie/Depeche Mode-esque "Close Your Eyes", Returning Jesus is mesmerising. --Dan Gennoe

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Kinson on 23 Mar. 2001
Format: Audio CD
"Returning Jesus" is No-Man's most complete (& most satisfying) release to date. Delicious, understated melodies, more Bowness slices of life lyrics, ballads to melt your heart, all held together by real songs performed by real musicians.
If you like your music unforced and natural, then this album is for you. Featuring guest appearances from Steve Jansen, Ben Christophers & Ian Carr.
Stand-out tracks include "outside the machine". Resting on Steve Jansen's dry, jazzy drums, and Steven's effortless piano, it's such an intimate song, no longer dependent, yet full of intense yearning. The instrumental section seems to draw inspiration from the textures on Bowie's classic Outside album, before being drawn back into the song proper. "lighthouse" is the most complex performance on the album, progressive and not ashamed of it - shifting from light to dark, epic to feather light.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By luke.donegan@eddept.wa.edu.au on 8 Mar. 2001
Format: Audio CD
This album is a masterpiece. From the moment Ian Carr's trumpet sounds in Only Rain, I was swept into one of the most beautiful musical experiences I have ever known. Every song is crafted to perfection, different, exciting and creative. The sound is more mellow than No-Man's previous albums, exchanging trip hop for jazz influences. The double bass and 'human' drums provide a more organic 'band' feel to the CD. I think this is the best thing No-Man have done, and probably the best that Steve Wilson has produced in all of his projects. By best I mean the most wonderful to listen to - at least to my ears. Returning Jesus deserves a wide audience, if only so that more people could learn what great music exists out there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter N. Ingleby on 26 Feb. 2013
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I simply cannot understand why No-Man haven't been given the recognition they deserve as producers of some of the most consistently magnificent albums that money can buy. Between the superb musical landscapes of Steven Wilson and the haunting and heartrending lyrics and vocals of Tim Bowness, No-man manage to pull off the almost impossible trick of consistently producing albums that are both accessible and challenging with the added bonus that the more you listen to them the better they get.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 July 2004
Format: Audio CD
Being a long time Amazon customer it is a pleasure to write a review on one of the best albums of music I ve heard. S. Wilson and T Bowness (including a large number of guests) create an album that is very qualitative.
It is a very adult album where music, textures, atmospheres and the ever awesome voice of Bowness shine through deserving more stars than this review allows.
I would recommend this album to those who look for something that will remain with them for a very long time.
Thanks you for the space.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 16 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Listen very carefully... 11 April 2001
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
..and you will be rewarded. This is undoubtfully no-man's greatest effort to date. There'a tremendous organic beauty to this album - more so than any previous album, live instruments are everywhere - jazz trumpets, irresistable slide guitar, the unmistakeable feel of an upright bass, etc. Many great musicians contributed to this album, and it shows. But most importantly the songwriting is in rare form, and the careful arrangements can only be fully appreciated through repeated listens.
As is no-man's domain, the music is slow, sad and beautiful. Tim's voice channels emotions with ease, and Steven's subtle guitar work is stunning. I may of course be biased, being a long time Porcupine Tree and no-man fan, so keep that in mind. And do yourself a favor, listen to this album without distractions, preferrable at night, or you won't get it.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Tim Bowness & Steven Wilson's Utterly Emotive Project 10 Feb. 2005
By Murat Batmaz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
No-Man is the side project of Porcupine Tree mastermind Steven Wilson (instruments) and the multi-dimensional artist Tim Bowness (vocals). You may have heard of No-Man only recently (due to Porcupine Tree's success in prog circles) but No-Man is no newcomer. The project has been active for over ten years now, and Returning Jesus is their much accomplished fourth studio release. Vocalist Tim Bowness plays a very integral role in No-Man, as he writes all the lyrics and half of the songs. Steven Wilson is responsible for the music, instrumentation, mix, and production. As previous No-Man albums, there are several guests contributing to this album (Robert Fripp guested on the band's Flowermouth album), among whom are Ian Carr of Miles Davies fame on trumpets, Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) on bass, Steve Jansen (David Sylvian) on drums, and some others I'm not familiar with. Here's the exact lineup: Ben Christophers - acoustic guitar, Ian Dixon - trumpet and flugelhorn, Rick Edwards - percussion, David Kosten - synths, and Theo Travis - saxophone, flute. That said, whilst the guest performers certainly give this album an extra edge, they don't seem to have contributed to the music's structural substance.

It should be noted that No-Man sounds absolutely nothing like Steven Wilson's other bands/projects. This is a very slow-paced disc, with strong emphasis on ambience, multi-textured song arrangements, introspective songs that are shaped by pop sensibilities, and additional non-rock instruments (violin, trumpet, horn, etc). Touches of soul music, classical, light jazz, and trance abound the compositions never sticking out too much and taking away from the songs' ambient textures. Tim Bowness' lyrics create the focal point for the band's romantic love songs, whilst Steven Wilson is the one who carefully composes the gorgeous and somewhat mournful music. Tim Bowness has a warm voice which is often laid over the delicate synth sounds like a soft blanket. He sings in a very low tone most of the time, kind of like he whispers the words, but the timbre in his voice is full of intensity and emotion.

The songs are essentially (80's) pop but they draw upon jazz and experimental influences. The tunes are embellished with saxophone, trumpet, jazz piano, acoustic and electric guitars, and percussion. Slow cadences combine with Floyd-like guitars with slowly descending melodies as Bowness relays his sad, romantic lyrics and lulls the listener into a deep, bittersweet dream-like trance. When you listen to songs like "No Defence" or "Outside the Machine", you'll hear him engaging in utterly emotive vocal melodies (and lyrics), whilst multi-instrumentalist Steven Wilson creates spacey atmospheres and lays down restrained minimalist instrumentation. The eight-minute "Lighthouse" could be the musical apex of Returning Jesus; it's so beautiful I don't even know what to say. Sustained notes are joined by the use of horns and a nice freeform improvisation provides a refreshing tapestry of sound. "Slow It All Down" is the album's only instrumental piece. It's a great song with a rich hypnotic backdrop.

It could be argued that Returning Jesus is too monochromatic, too slow and mellow. It may be the kind of music you might want to hear before you go to sleep or put on as a very relaxing piece while reading or working on your computer. However, if you can get into its inner depths like it's meant to be, you can also listen to it on a set of good headphones and get lost in its sheer aesthetic beauty. I once read that Steven Wilson said Returning Jesus, of all the albums he's done so far, is by far his most favourite work. I think this album might be a good point to get into No-Man, but I also highly recommend Flowermouth (because of Robert Fripp guesting on a couple of tracks). Wild Opera, well, I still need time to digest it. These are the three No-Man discs I own so far, and they're all certainly very wide musically and extremely diverse.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Give it a try 21 Aug. 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a truly beautiful CD. I got into this band via Porcupine Tree (Steven Wilson is in both bands)although its quite different to PT - more like later Talk Talk. Tim's voice is quite incredible ... just get the CD and if youre like me you'll be scouring the marketplace for their back catalogue.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Lush 4 April 2006
By Reverend_Maynard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Turning away from the looped beats and driving pop-dynamics which comprised a large part of their earlier work, No-Man dive headlong into territory which will be familiar to listeners who have hear Talk Talk's legendary final albums. Concretely, they employ sparser, more open arrangements, eschew verse/chorus structure in favour of mood and texture, but glue it all together with Bowness' assured pop delivery (his voice is simply incredible), carefully buried hooks and soulful, direct lyrics.

Each track is engineered and played to perfection. 'Lighthouse' and 'Close your Eyes' ebb past as gentle, evocative epics that hit home with powerful emotional peaks and troughs, 'Only rain' has a stunning about turn half way through, descending into minimal, jazz like interplay. 'All that you are', the final track, has an impassioned vocal performance and is so bold and simple that it is utterly engrossing.

In recommending this album I would say that _Flowermouth_ is the best starting point for the band, but this album is highly regarded among fans and possesses a delicate beauty which is appealing, as well as being curiously addictive. The style of the music is miles away from conventional rock however, and veers nearer to the 'Post-rock' bands (except Bowness' voice which is way, way better than most of those guys) and late Talk Talk.

For fans of forward looking music with real depth.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Follow me down... 19 Mar. 2001
By Bob Rosser - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I can't believe that I am the first one to review this CD! After being fortunate enough to even find it, I cannot stop listening... From the gorgeous strings of "Only Rain" to the end of "All That You Are", this is about as close to perfection as you can get (right up there with Porcupine Tree's "Lightbulb Sun" from last year). Tim Bowness and Steven (Porcupine Tree) Wilson explore new musical territory in the vein of later Talk Talk, earlier David Sylvian, Miles Davis, etc... while continuing to sound unique at the same time. Best songs here are "Only Rain", "Close Your Eyes", "Carolina Skeletons", "Outside The Machine", the haunting title track "Returning Jesus" and "All That You Are". Steven Wilson and Tim Bowness have a created CD to be truly proud of. Now we just need to get the word out... BUY THIS CD!!! You wll not be dissapointed.
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