It seems hard to credit, but No Man have been plying their trade for over a decade now, haunting the fringes of pop music while co-creator Steven Wilson has travelled the globe with his ever-more-popular Porcupine Tree outfit. However, No man have remained a cult favourite – adored by their fans and yet appearing rarely in the live environment (these were the first shows in fifteen years) making this double disc DVD a treat for those not lucky enough to have attended a show in person.
DVDs have become increasingly prevalent in modern music and it has reached the point where artists need to release something special to entice people’s money out of their wallets – aside from the bands infrequent appearances, Mixtaped offers a wealth of No Man material which will appeal to any fan of the band and which makes a good starting point for the uninitiated. Disc one offers a full show recorded at Bush Hall in London. It is the perfect setting for the band’s gloomy, gothic-tinged pop, all crimson drapes and low lighting and the band – expanded to feature a drummer, bassist, Wilson himself, a keyboardist and a violinist as well as Bowness who stands, resplendent in a black shirt, amidst his band as they unleash the walls of sound that back his poetic missives. Standout tracks include the spectacular ‘Truenorth’, ‘Time travel in Texas’ and ‘All the blue changes’ although there is rarely a dull moment and the playing is superb.
For tech heads the information you need to know is that the DVD offers 5.1 surround and a high resolution stereo mix both of which do justice to the respective systems required and the picture is clean, although there is some grain due to the low-light conditions. Overall it is a strong presentation from a band who have always laid an emphasis on good sound quality over their albums and who have extended that attention to detail to this foray into the visual realm.
The extras appear on the second disc, with a documentary entitled ‘Returning’ which runs to a generous 85 minutes and covers every aspect of the band’s career, including interviews with every member of No Man – a treat for enthusiasts who will sit captivated throughout this potted history of a fascinating band. You also get complete music videos from across the years including ‘Colours’, ‘sweetheart raw’, ‘you grow more beautiful’ ‘the ballet beast’ and a new film for ‘back when you were beautiful’ which recently won an animation award. There’s also a photo galley (with soundtrack), a comprehensive chronology and deleted scenes – in short this is one of the most complete packages to surface from any band in some time and it begs the question why other artists aren’t so generous with their fans.
‘Mixtaped’ offers a fantastic live performance, lavishly recorded and presented, a treasure-trove of extra features that will sate even the most ravenous of appetites for this special band and it costs a mere £13 from the mighty Burning Shed label. This is an essential purchase for fans and highly recommended for those who have yet to experience the gloomy, art-pop world that No Man inhabit. Superb.