This is an absolutely fabulous live document, let me say that much right up front.
But I also have to admit that it's a little weird to see Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson playing before a live audience in what amounts to mostly a sideman role. What a sideman he is, by the way. But more on that in a minute. On Mixtaped, unlike his live DVD sets with both PT and Blackfield, Wilson doesn't say two words to his audience throughout this entire DVD.
In fairness, frontman and vocalist Tim Bowness barely does either. Well okay, he does thank the audience a couple of times and also intros the song "Days In The Trees" by saying perhaps No-Man should play at least one song that was played during their last appearance at London's Bush Hall (the one captured here is from 2008). But even then, he never smiles.
But it is exactly this undertone of deadly seriousness that works so perfectly within a group like this one. Even the chandeliers hanging from the ceiling suggest highbrow, but in the case of No-Man this is definitely a good thing.
Visually speaking, Bowness is a picture of that earnest sort of seriousness. His eyes are often closed tightly, as though completely engrossed in every word he sings, and he doesn't really move about all that much. You could probably even accuse Bowness of being somewhat wooden onstage.
In terms of his actual voice, the best word I could use to describe it is dramatic — perhaps even to the point of being slightly overwrought. Think of a slightly less gay Marc Almond from Soft Cell and you wouldn't be that far off.
The criticisms end there however. Bowness's voice works perfectly well within the context of No-Man's songs.
Genre-wise, No-Man can be really all over the map — they've incorporated elements of everything from electronic trip-hop to avant-jazz on their studio albums. But the common thread — at least most of the time — is the lush, and yes moody, romantic pop that is at the center of No-Man's best work. In that respect, Bowness's voice is a perfect fit for what they do.