In Cambridge in 1989, guitarist Michael Bearpark and pianist Peter Chilvers formed Samuel Smiles, an ECM-style improvising collective. Over the next few years, the band underwent a number of changes in direction (including folk and country) before joining with No-Man vocalist Tim Bowness to become the imaginatively named Tim Bowness / Samuel Smiles. The band rapport was so instant that they performed their first live date on the day of their first rehearsal, and went into Amazon Studios in Liverpool to record a live album barely three weeks later – these sessions have now been released on Burning Shed as ‘Live Archive One’.
The band continued sporadically to record and perform over the next decade, culminating in the 1999 studio album ‘World of Bright Futures’. Meanwhile, Peter developed enthusiasm for the fretless bass and played with the now defunct band Love X and Y, and formed Alias Grace with Irish singer-songwriter Sandra O’Neill.
Alias Grace set out to combine the musical styles of artists like Joni Mitchell and Everything but the Girl with the imaginative electronic arrangements of Peter Gabriel and David Sylvian, providing Peter with an opportunity to develop as a writer, producer and performer and expanding his musical palette to include textural guitar playing and chapman stick experiments. In this time, he also wrote a number of generative soundtracks for the Creatures computer games, released by CreatureLabs.