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Time Machine by No Man's Valley - Album Review

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by Chris Henniker (subscribe)
There are 6m postcodes in London, what's happening in yours?
Published May 18th 2016
When people talk about The Brexit, those opposed think that cross border cooperation will cease. Let me tell you that's bollocks. Many of my clients were from Texas to Calgary, Bangkok to Slovenia. Just recently, I received a text from a Dutch band, No Man's Valley, asking me to review their new album, Time Travel. Their opening song, The Man Who Would Be King, is a dark gospel number reminiscent of Nick Cave's brooding, sinister ninety spiritual seconds with the refrain: "Where did it go wrong?"

Although a burning question for our time, when put to a king, it's becomes a question of someone's guilt, but whose? The ambiguity opens the album with you, the listener, put into the position of the king and answer his question, or you've asked him the question yourself. No Man's Land put you in someone's shoes, but whose?

Lest you think NMV are a Nick Cave derivative, Sinking The Lifeboat's a ballad reminiscent of Ocean Colour Scene, tinged with regret and tragic irony, harking back to when Britpop ruled the charts, as Kill The Bees does. It's a bitterly ironic title evoking anger at getting stung and committing acts of insecticide to get even, even if mankind dies.

Being a Blues meets Britpop shouter, Jasper growls angrily at the extinction of food-pollinating insects, matched by The Wolves Are Coming, a paranoid psychobilly meets Iggy Pop's The Passenger nightmare.

Propelled by a Farfisa organ riff from the Garage that inspired Iggy, the folk tale and horror imagery is a metaphor for a dystopia with the sheeplike masses heading to the slaughter. Being the most rock'n'roll track on the album, it's the most danceable & direct in terms of its message. While Japser puts layers of metaphor on this song, you can see it conveys people's feeling that the wolves are out for them and the claws are out.

If those claws were the knifey riffs of the title track, Time Travel, they're accompanied by an organ time machine made up of Hawkwind, The B-52's Rock Lobster, Nick Cave and JAMC. The guitar stabs your mind's ear, adding to the sense that the knives are out for you. The droning vocal evokes being taken to a golden past or future, a dystopia or a past that's terrible. It's like Silver Machine for Generation Z, but whether it becomes iconic remains to be seen.

Although about time travel, this album's un-nostalgic, as Goon's Waltz like piano shows. While reminiscent of Nick Cave and David Bowie, it establishes a sense of regret, with Jasper's sinister spoken word piece magnifying it:

"A spectre always hovering, reminding us of our shortcomings. Yet some are able to postpone...unfinished business that remains in a dark corner. Claiming a supremacy and leaving you with nothing."

We can relate to the tragedy eloquently expressed on this album. For me it was powerful because my uncle died just before I wrote this.

Although the spectre of Nick Cave haunts this album, it articulates the fears of many people in Europe today, such as whether they have a job tomorrow or being rejected by a loved one with a clarity that can't always be achieved by being direct. Who says international cooperation is dead, especially when I review an album as good as Time Machine?

Visit the band's website here.

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Why? A great album from No Man's Valley
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