For all the emotional lacerations and bruises Together We’re Stranger so artfully describes, “The Break-Up for Real” ends the album in a way that suggests Bowness and Wilson have arrived at something close to peace.
The final two songs on Together We’re Stranger are the album’s most straightforward. The first of these, “Back When You Were Beautiful”, is a great example of Tim Bowness' literary eye, with some tragicomic instrumentation from Steven Wilson providing a unique and perplexing background to these mournful lyrics.
"Photographs in Black and White", the longest song on the Together We're Stranger album, is one part introspective Americana and another part ominous drone. It's about how nostalgia so often gives way to darkness.
Together We're Stranger's most heartbreaking moment, "Things I Want to Tell You", depicts pain in a way unlike any artist working in any medium ever has. Long after the aches have faded away and the forward-looking narration of "bluecoda" has ended, it's damn difficult to not sense this hurt lingering.
The brief ambient interlude "The City in a Hundred Ways" is, compared to the other four tracks in Together We're Stranger's opening five-track suite, mostly inconsequential. But what it manages to say in its two and a half minutes is quite resounding.
With "All the Blue Changes", Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson ruminate on city life as it relates to loneliness. The city in a hundred ways both seeks to confine and expel the mourner, a paradox that makes the isolation all the harder to bear.
In its newest Between the Grooves series, Sound Affects explores No-Man’s 2003 tome poem, Together We’re Stranger, one of the truest examinations of heartbreak and loss ever seen in music history. The album's stark, ambient opener depicts a person just having experienced ultimate loss.
With the February 25th release of Steven Wilson’s third solo LP The Raven That Refused to Sing (and other stories) approaching, PopMatters looks back on Wilson’s storied career to pick out ten of his strongest recordings, ranging from beautiful works of ambience to transcontinental art rock.
As this Between the Grooves series concludes, we finish with “Stop Swimming”, one of Steven Wilson’s favorite Porcupine Tree songs. Stupid Dream's jazz-tinged closer is drenched in the mood of disillusionment and the apathy of being apathetic.
Stupid Dream's eighth track, "Baby Dream in Cellophane", is a unique little experiment in that it merges Porcupine Tree's early psychedelic sonic with Steven Wilson's love of Beach Boys-styled vocal harmonies.
The British art-rock duo No-Man, consisting of Tim Bowness and Steven Wilson, has long toiled in semi-obscurity. But thanks to the success of Wilson's other band, Porcupine Tree, No-Man is finally beginning to receive its proper due on the eve of its new release, Love and Endings.