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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Bill Nelson - Trail By Intimacy(The Book Of Splendours) [Cocteau Discs /Esoteric Recordings - 2012]

“Trail By Intimacy(The  Book Of Splendours)” is a four CD set that brings together eight three tracks of quirky ambience that darts with traces of mellow electronica & atmospheric 80’s beat scapes. This set was originally released back in 1984 as a four LP box set on Cocteau Records, and this new ltd edition sees the sets first release in CD form.

Bill Nelson is a British songwriter, musician, painter & photographer who has been releasing work since the early 1970’s. He is most known for his work as the singer, songwriter & guitarist in progressive rock/new wave project Be-Bop Deluxe( 1972- 1978), whose sound moved between glam rock, metal, pop & beyond.  After Be-Bop Deluxe split he went onto form new wave band Red Noise( 1978-1979), then synth pop project Fiat Lux which lasted from 1982 to 1985. Over the years he’s also been a prolific solo artist too releasing work over many genres utilizing both rock based composition, electronic based elements, and more experimental approaches too.

This box set mainly sees Nelson utilizing electronic elements, tape loops & early sampling to create a mostly mellow & moody collection of tracks that sit somewhere between ambience, 80’s synth sound tracking, and quirky mood music. On a few tracks he does use his guitar, but it’s only used as an extra texture instead of a main element. All of the material here was recorded in Nelson own home studio, so he was free to create what ever he fancied with out the concerns of record labels pressure. In some artists total studio freedom can create over long & indulgent work that has little focus or shape, but instead this collection sees Nelson creating a selection of eight three short tracks (between a minute & a half to four minutes runtime) that are both precise & controlled, yet effortless & creative creating both lush, quirky & more moody atmospheres.

Each of the four discs has it’s own separately subtitle:  disc one is entitled The Summer Of Gods Piano, disc two Chamber Of Dreams (Music From The Invisibility Exhibition), disc three Pavilions Of Heart And Soul, and disc four A Catalogue Of Obsessions. All but disc two, which was created as a soundtrack to one of Nelson’s instillations, are a collections of unconnected instrumental mood works.

Over the four discs & eight three tracks Nelson’s moves from more simplistic slow throbbing synth washers ‘n' darts, onto drifting banks varied tinkling & darting synth composition that shimmer with tape loops & dialogue/ media samples. Through to more moody almost pop beat scapes that move with often atmospheric yet moody synth textures & electronics. Onto more swaying & groovy mixes of electro pop electrionca that blends  in oriental & lite reggae type vibes, through to more 80’s soundtrack like orchestrated synth textures & slow beat refrains. Onto more rhythmic & electro vibe based work-outs that simmer with subtle synthetic string dwells. Through to mixtures of spiral low-end synth tone & more twinkling bright synth runs, onto jigging like synthwork outs, and beyond.

This reissue lovingly re-creates the four vinyl package in a reduced down to cd size package- you have the four disc each in their own card slip sleeves, each disc features original cover artwork on the front  and full track listing on the back. You also get eight reproduction postcards feature Nelson’s paintings & artwork, and lastly a 32 page booklet which brings together a new introduction to the set from Nelson, and a collection of abstract & dream like photos that accompanied the original box set under the title of The Arcane Eye.

On the whole the box set is a very rewarding & appealing journey into 1980’s ambience & electronic based mood making, with the whole set having a very chocolate box like feel as each new track offers up its own charms & sonic creativity. Kudos must go to Esoteric Recordings/cherry Red for releasing this in such a full & deluxe manner. This will be of interest to those who enjoy 80’s ambience & genreal 1980’s creative soundtracking or mood music, and those who enjoy more retro based & sample weaved  electronica like Boards Of Canada.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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