Bow – Man In The Machine

Bow is a project by Dutch multi-instrumentalist Chris van der Linden who also records under the name Fourteen Twentysix. He also designed the album cover but apart from narration and a little bit of wordless vocals here and there, he does not do any singing here. This is a concept album about ‘the story of a man who goes slowly mad inside his own head’. There is quite a bit of narration on this album. Usually the words are altered and manipulated with background effects and sounds. Some tracks are short with just narration while others are full songs with include some narration. The actual music itself is a mix of industrial, electronic rock, world music and ambient soundscapes. That’s a brief description since the music here is not easy to pigeonhole and does not sound like too much like other music out there.

“The Sound Of Meaning” is one of the more rock-y tracks. Sounds like industrial meets indie rock before the drums and guitars go away to be replaced by plucked string instruments. Then it goes back but more noisy and aggressive sounding than before. “Two Wrongs” is the highlight of the album for me. Opening with some plucked string instrument (not exactly sure what), it switches to pounding drums and lovely violin playing…with a sinister sounding synth bassline underneath it all. Nice synth atmospherics going on. The drumming is fairly versatile in this track. Things die down for awhile with some almost post-rock sounding guitar playing. I like how the music fades out and then the part with the violin comes back out of nowhere. Nice.

“Neuron Traveler” begins with some harp and wordless singing (with some vocoder-like talking which sounds looped). A beat and rhythm enter and then retreats as some piano comes along. More altered ‘singing’ at the end. “Mercury Tears” starts with the altered narration and background sounds. Some harp and electronics. I like how the drums get phased/faded in. The track proceeds to turn into some kind of ambient rock (for lack of a better term). “Sun On A Cold Seed” begins segued from the previous track. Some string plucking basically dominates the whole track. “Influx” opens with non-altered narration. Then mechanical electronic sounds with string plucking (and sometimes strumming). You hear altered vocal sounds. Gets almost dark ambient sounding at the end before more narration.

The name “Sunya” I believe is that of an Indian deity (although I could be confusing it with a similar name). The most exotic sounding song with ethnic percussion and backwards sounds. More narration. “Mirror Horizon” is a stand out track. Nice synth tones and sounds. The production on this song is really good. Some slightly distorted guitar plays over top of the electronics. Then an easy-going mid-paced drum beat. The guitar playing gets faster towards the end. “The Way Out” is the longest cut. More narration. Then some more string plucking and electronics. Some drumming and beautiful harp playing. Some cut-up narration and piano in the middle. Then a great part with drums and synth bass.

Bow is a one-man-band project, although the harp parts are played by someone else except Chris I think. The follow up to this is supposed to be very different. This is a very good album but not for those who are allergic to electronics and plucked string instruments. Maybe not as much guitar and drums as some would like to hear. I’m personally not a huge fan of narration in music, but it works here mainly because there are other sounds besides the voice during those parts. Hard to say who to recommend this to, but if you want some modern electronic-oriented experimental rock music you could do a lot worse.


1. I Am Machine

2. The Sound Of Meaning

3. 16.819.200 Minutes

4. Two Wrongs

5. Lights Out

6. Neuron Traveler

7. Mercury Tears

8. Sun On A Cold Seed

9. Influx

10. Sunya

11. Mirror Horizon

12. The Way Out

13. I Am Man


* Chris van der Linden – all instruments and vocals


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