Issue 2 - June 2005
ROSEWOOD VOLUME ONE FINALLY RELEASED
Bill Nelson's custom record label, 'SONOLUXE, ' has released the long-awaited album, 'Rosewood Volume One'. This is the first ever Bill Nelson instrumental album designed to spotlight his acoustic guitar playing and is also the first ever release on the 'SONOLUXE' label.
The album's15 instrumental tracks paint beautiful pictures with sound, providing an ideal accompaniment to a mythical, dreamy English summer. The music blends tints of folk, ambient, jazz, blues and contemporary composition along with spontaneous improvisation and discrete digital processing. The album is both melodic and mysterious, humming with the electricity of imagination.
'Rosewood Volume One' is only the first half of Bill's acoustic guitar project. 'Rosewood Volume Two, ' containing another 15 tracks, will be released a little later in the year. Volume Two has a slightly more uptempo feel, whilst still atmospheric and evocative. The two albums are companion pieces and should be heard in sequence to follow the music's developmental thread.
'Rosewood Volume One' is instantly available from 'The Dreamsville Department Store'. Simply click on the Dreamsville Department Store name on the Dreamsville Home Page, then click on the 'Rosewood Volume One' listing and you will be automatically connected with Sound On Sound magazine's store. (Sound On Sound have kindly provided facilities for ordering by mail). Select your country of residence, click on the 'Bill Nelson Music' name on the menu listed on the left hand side of the page and then select the product you require. Follow instructions through to the checkout, completing your details where requested. Your order will be processed for immediate dispatch. Payment can be made by credit card or cheque.
DREAMSVILLE WEBSITE PROVES TO BE A BIG HIT WITH FANS
The response to the recent launch of 'DREAMSVILLE, The Official Global Bill Nelson Website', has been overwhelmingly positive. Although the site is still in its infancy and much work still remains to be done, the initial reaction from fans has been extremely encouraging. Within hours of its launch, the site was flooded with enthusiastic praise and the Dreamsville Inn forum is now constantly buzzing with the vibrant thoughts and conversations of hundreds of regular visitors.
Bill Nelson, when asked how he felt about the public response to the site said: "I'm overwhelmed by the kind words and continuing loyalty of all those who have posted messages of support on the Dreamsville Inn Forum. It's a fabulous feeling to know that my music and work continues to connect with those generous hearts and minds who are tuned into it. I intend to continue the development of Dreamsville far into the future, gradually building up a self-contained resource that will diligently serve all who enjoy my music, wherever they may reside.
Of course, Dreamsville has received tremendous help from various quarters: Ian Gilby, Paul Gilby, Dave Graham, Chuck Bird and Jon Wallinger being amongst the principal guardian angels, but the ultimate success of the site is down to those many afficionados of my work who continue to support what I do, year after year... people who have been open-hearted and brave enough to negotiate the twists and turns of my creative life with me. My map is also their map and the complex journey is accomplished in unison as a shared experience, together. It is to these people that Dreamsville owes its being. And it is because of them that I'm pursuaded that my efforts might be worthwhile, despite my occasional bouts of self-doubt. I'd like to thank everyone, both behind the scenes and out in the public auditorium, for their much needed help in dragging my dreams from the shadows into the light of day. I hope that they will continue to enjoy sharing these musical and visual explorations with me."
BILL NELSON'S AUTUMN TOUR PLANS BEGIN TO TAKE SHAPE
Opium (Arts) Ltd, Bill Nelson's management company, are currently working with a London-based agency to book venues for Bill's planned November Solo UK Tour. Several possible venues have been suggested but, at this stage, nothing has been officially confirmed.
It does seem that one venue in the midlands has already been advertising tickets for sale, despite the fact that official confirmation for this particular concert has yet to be given from Bill's management team. The Dreamsville Rocket advises fans to wait until official dates are properly confirmed on the Dreamsville website before buying tickets. Basically, until a proper tour announcement is made on this site, all other announcements are unauthorised and speculative.
Whilst these plans are being discussed, Bill Nelson is working towards the actual concept and presentation details of the November tour. Bill plans to write new songs and instrumentals for these concerts, AND hopefully put together backing tracks for one or two older songs too. ('Though this latter idea is only a possibility at this stage. It will depend upon having enough time available beyond the new material). He also hopes to be able to assemble a brand new presentation of his videogram-style visuals, to act as a stage backdrop. Bill has been constantly developing ideas for the tour and, until the deadline for advertising is reached, everything will be subject to change. Like Bill's recordings, the ideas are in a constant state of flux until the final shape and form materialises.
One possible concept, however, can be revealed by the Dreamsville Rocket, and it is this: The tour may go out under the following banner: 'BILL NELSON AND THE GREAT NORTH YORKSHIRE ASTRAL ORCHESTRA, One Man, A Galaxy Of Overdubs... ' The Great North Yorkshire Astral Orchestra, of course, is simply Bill with his pre-recorded interactive backing tapes, over which he will play guitar and sing live. But the framework that the title provides adds a theatrical, romantic element to the performance, a context within which Bill can feel inspired. Long time fans of Bill's music will be familiar with his passion for inventing fictional names and frameworks for his work so it will come as no surprise that the forthcoming tour will continue in that tradition.
The element of 'play', (in the sense of a child using play to explore and respond to its personal environment), is an essential component in Bill Nelson's creative life. He has always attempted to preserve a wide-eyed wonder, a feeling of joyous awakening, whilst creating his music and visuals. An appropriate choice of titles for songs, albums, videos and concert tours becomes an essential part of this process. The 'naming of things' gives them pupose and power. Names become magical incantations, keys to unlock other realms. Whilst Bill's music could be thought of as, on the one hand, subtle, serious and knowing, on the other it is playful, whimsical and gently surreal. It is the balancing and blending of these various elements that has shaped Bill's working methods and creative choices over the years. The forthcoming Autumn tour, whatever banner it eventually goes out under, will provide a platform for further experiments in the fine art of practical dreaming.
DID BRIGHTON ROCK?
A weekend in Brighton to celebrate the work of Harold Budd, his last live performance as sadly Harold is retiring from music.
A long and frustrating drive down from Selby on the Friday meant I had a long soak in the bath as soon as I found my hotel, then with the aches and pains washed away, it was out to find a pub. The first pub I found, I went into, and who should be at the bar but Pete Harwood (guitar tech from the tour last year) and fellow Satellite, Dave Standeven. They were the guitar techs for the show, so I knew I was going to be filled in on all the gossip!
They gave me a run-down of what I was to expect the following day, including mention of a gong solo... very intriguing!
Early hours of the morning and time to find my hotel...
Saturday lunchtime found me (again) in the pub... who should be sitting there this time but Harold Budd himself! I introduced myself and he said he recognised my face from the couple of times we had met previously. It was then time for Harold to head back to the venue to continue with rehearsals and he invited me back with him so I could say "Hi" to Bill.
I hung around during the rehearsals for a while, then decided to make an exit as I didn't want to spoil the evening's entertainment by seeing too much of the show too early! But what I did see was a real interesting mix of musicians and musical styles.
So back to the pub and met up with several of the Nelson-Faithful... then onto the show. First up was the 'Balanescu String Quartet'. String quartets are not my favourite thing, probably because I have no idea what they are doing or how they are doing it, but very enjoyable all the same!
Then, on comes Harold, with Theo Travis on flute and sax. For me, this was the real start of the show. An excellent mix but over far too soon. Then it was Bill's turn, nice to hear a great welcome from the crowd when he walked on! Firstly, Bill played a couple of pieces with his acoustic guitar, but the sound mix did not do the music any justice, it all seemed rather bass driven... if only Ian Thorpe had been mixing engineer this would have been awesome!
On came John Foxx to join Harold and Bill. This, for me was one of the highlights of the evening. Bill was playing his Gus guitar, so the mix was better, unfortunately there was an electrical buzz coming from somewhere, but I didn't care! John Foxx's dreamy choral chants blended perfectly with Bill's guitar and Harold's piano, this trio really did seem to gel.
Harold closed the first half with a couple of beautiful piano pieces, which although very minimal at times, had a beauty that had me hanging on every note. So flip the disc and let's see what's on side two...
The programme stated - Steve Jansen: solo gong. I had been forewarned about this event by Dave and Pete, so was really looking forward to it. Steve started by almost brushing the surface of this huge gong, doing very light drum rolls around the edge, slowly increasing in force and moving the playing area form edge to centre to edge. The resulting sound was a resonant bass hum which tended to phase in and out while pitch was ridden up and down depending on what Steve was doing at the time. I could tell that the couple next to me weren't as impressed as I was, their tutting and complaining "Hurry-ups" was starting to get on my nerves, I could have listened to this bit alone for hours.
But Robin Guthrie's guitar soon took over from the gong-hum, playing sustained/looped chords and building layer upon layer of them until there was a wash of sound. Steve Cobby then sat at his laptop and introduced bells and swirling electronic noises, which fit in so well with the background guitar. Then came Harold, followed by Theo, then Alexander Balanescu, all adding their piece, again the mix started to suffer as people could be seen playing but not much heard at times!
Bill then joined the band with some exquisite E-Bow work, at times it seemed like a bit of a scramble between who would be playing their bit next and at times when everyone was playing it all got a bit muddy. Then came Jah Wobble and Steve Jansen and with the addition of bass and drums, this really kicked the piece into gear! Both Steve and Jah were exceptionally solid, a tight and dynamic sound that took the existing music to a different dimension. My only criticism was that I thought Jah Wobble could have varied his bass riff a bit. Whether it was to drift into a gentler style for a moment before raising the stakes again, or just to take his riff somewhere else so that it wasn't so repetitive. It made Jah look a bit like a one-trick-pony, which I know he isn't as I have seen him live before.
Also towards the end of the 'second half' was an annoying feedback sound which seemed to be getting worse and worse and which the sound engineer didn't seem to have a clue about how to rectify!
So as the piece suddenly finished (I don't think an ending had been worked out) the audience gave deserved applause in the hope of an encore... but after playing a piece of music that lasted almost an hour, how could you top that? They didn't try, but we had certainly already got our money's worth.
Best wishes to Harold and whatever venture he decides upon, I will hold fond memories for a long time.
THE DREAMSVILLE DEPARTMENT STORE OFFERS RARITIES FOR SALE
Three of Bill Nelson's favourite albums have been acquired from stock that Voiceprint Records were apparently planning to destroy. The albums are: 'Confessions Of A Hyperdreamer', 'Crimsworth' and 'After The Satellite Sings'.
These recordings are essential works in the Nelsonic canon and, for those who don't already own them, are 'must have' items. The Dreamsville Rocket asked Bill how these albums fit into the overall scheme of things and what his feelings are about them today. Bill said: "Crimsworth is an unusual album in that it contains music I composed for an art installation, back in the early 'nineties. The installation was actually called 'Crimsworth' and was built by the artist Rob Ward. The music itself was recorded at Fairview Recording Studio, near Hull, on the 21st and 22nd of July 1994, and comprises just two long 'movements.' It is primarily concerned with particular textures and atmospheres, rather than thematic development. In this sense, it is quite abstract but, at the same time, deeply reflective and soothing. Some people have said that they consider it the most 'ambient' of my works. I'm not sure whether the term is one that I'm entirely comfortable with as I find it generically limiting. Like my friend Harold Budd, I prefer the term 'discrete', in the sense that the music doesn't force its attention upon the listener. At the same time, however, I wouldn't consider it background music. It is full of detail and ever evolving micro-patterns that slowly reveal themselves to the focussed ear. It is quite accessible as a surface piece but offers further information beneath this. The deeper one listens, the greater the reward.
'Confessions Of A Hyperdreamer' (My Secret Studio volume 2), is a double-album set. (The set comprises two cds in one box). The first of these is called 'Weird Critters' and the second is 'Magnificent Dream People.' They contain a mix of vocals and instrumentals. It's actually one of my favourite collections of music. Some pieces were recorded in my 'TAPE RECORDER COTTAGE STUDIO, others at Fairview studio. Most of the recordings come from the earlier part of the1990's, 'though the album itself wasn't released until '96. I chose several tracks from these two albums to provide foundations for my videograms, many of which found their way onto the 'Flashlight Dreams And Fleeting Shadows' DVD a couple of years ago. I still think 'Confessions Of A Hyperdreamer' has a timeless feel that will come across as fresh to new listeners. It's also a very accessible collection of songs, easy to digest. The packaging features some of my visual collage art which is intended to complement the music.
The other album we've rescued is 'After The Satellite Sings'. This is a very important piece of work for me in that it explored the fusion of rock music with drum n' bass and trip-hop. It was somewhat ahead of its time and was cited by long time David Bowie collaborator, Reeves Gabrels as being inspirational in the creation of David Bowie's 'Earthling' album. In actual fact, my much earlier 'Practically Wired' album touched on similar experiments even before I recorded 'After The Satellite Sings.' In more recent years, one or two other guitarists have gone down the same avenue, Jeff Beck in particular, but 'Practically Wired' and 'After The Satellite Sings' were 'first off the starting block' as it were. I guess, in their own way, these albums have been quietly influential. 'After The Satellite Sings' was composed, recorded and mixed in Fairview Studios over a two week period. Remarkable, when I listen to it now. It sounds rich and complex, the recording quality being superbly handled by engineer John Spence. The songs are melodic and immediate too, an album I'm proud of."
All three of these albums are now available from The Dreamsville Department Store for £9.99 pence, plus postage and packing. Supplies are extremely limited so copies will be allocated on a 'first come, first served' basis.
HAROLD BUDD BIDS FAREWELL TO LIVE PERFORMANCE AND RECORDING
On the Saturday the 21st of May, 2005, American composer and recording artist Harold Budd gave his farewell performance at Brighton's Dome Theatre in the U.K. Harold was joined by friends and collaborators who helped to celebrate Harold's tremendously influential career. Bill Nelson, John Foxx, Russell Mills, Steve Jansen, Jah Wobble, Steve Cobby, Theo Travis, Robin Guthrie, Alex Balanescu and the Balanescu Quartet all performed alongside Harold in various combinations in what proved to be a memorable occasion. For an overview of the concert, see Jon Wallinger's first hand account in this issue of 'The Dreamsville Rocket'. For a behind the scenes take on the event, see Bill Nelson's diary entry dated 29th May 2005, which can be found in the study of 'Villa Nelsonica' within the Dreamsville website. A review of the concert also appeared in the May 27th issue of 'THE INDEPENDENT' newspaper.
PLANS FOR THE EXTREMELY LIMITED EDITION OF THE 'CARSBRO NELSONIC DELUXE 'GUITAR AMPLIFIER NOW IN PROGRESS
The Nelsonic Deluxe custom built amplifier and speaker cab, designed by Bill Nelson and used by him on last year's 30th anniversary UK tour, is almost ready to go into limited production. No more than 50 of these highly exclusive amplifiers will be built.
Bill Nelson has recently fine-tuned some details of the design, providing hand-drawn sketches of specific control knob concepts, plus a front panel logo design, for Carlsbro's custom workshop to implement. Once Bill has authorised these improvements, the amplifier, with its matching 4x12 speaker cab, will begin a highly limited production run. Each unit will also carry a rear mounted metal plaque engraved with the limited edition serial number and Bill's personal signature. There are also plans for a hand-signed, framable certificate to be issued to each purchaser, authenticating the amplifier's exclusive status and its individual number.
'The Nelsonic Deluxe' is destined to be a highly sought after, super-collectable item and its future rarity will ensure that it becomes an extremely good investment for buyers. A percentage of the profits from the sale of the amplifier will go to The North Yorkshire Music Therapy Centre, a charity that Bill feels is deserving of support. For further details of this special production, please log on to www.carlsbro.com or click on the link in the Dreamsville Transit Lounge . To learn more about the valuable work of The North Yorkshire Music Therapy Centre, please log onto www.music-therapy.org.uk
THREE ENGLISH GUITAR MAGAZINES RUN FEATURES ON BILL'S NELSONIC DELUXE AMPLIFIER
It seems that Bill Nelson's 'Nelsonic Deluxe' guitar amplifier design has captured the imagination of the English guitar magazine market. 'Guitar Buyer', 'Guitarist' and 'Guitar and Bass' magazines have all carried items featuring Bill's amplifier in their June issues. The design has made a big impression when it was exhibited at the recent Frankfurt musical instrument trade fair too. Carlsbro have been very pleased with the overwhelming response that the design has generated.
A NEW DIARY ENTRY IN VILLA NELSONIA
Bill has written a new diary entry, (dated Sunday 29th of May), which deals with the circumstances of the Harold Budd farewell concert in Brighton and Bill's personal involvement in it. Bill also takes a trip down memory lane, recalling the previous time he'd visited Brighton in the 1970's. This part of the diary provides a personal and autobiographical insight into Bill's earlier career. There are also photographs of Brighton's seafront that Bill took himself whilst attending the Harold Budd rehearsals, which serve to illustrate the diary text.
NELSONICA: THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS
Bill has been looking at the possibility of hiring a new venue at which to hold NELSONICA 05. Bill and Lord Mayor Of Dreamsville, Jon Wallinger, recently visited 'The Royal York Hotel' in the City of York and were very impressed by the facilities on offer there. They constitute a tremendous improvement over those available at The Duke Of Cumberland where the last three Nelsonica conventions have been held. Enquiries were made about the cost of hiring two properly equipped areas of the Royal York for Nelsonica 05 but, unfortunately, the hire fee, when a quotation eventually came in, was way above the convention's budget... Mind bogglingly expensive, in fact! A shame as the venue would have been absolutely perfect for Nelsonica's needs. York offers a range of attractions that would benefit convention attendees: Historic architecture, museums and galleries, good restaurants, excellent shopping, etc... It would provide Nelsonians with wives and families an all round treat and, for those travelling to the convention from overseas, add extra value to their trip. It was hoped that people might make a weekend of it, staying at the Royal York Hotel, attending the convention and enjoying the ancient and beautiful sights of York and the surrounding area. Sadly, it seems this may not now be practical, due to the high cost of hire.
There is one more new option being considered, this one in Leeds... but it may be that this too proves to be financially unsuitable. Until the final quotations come in though, nothing can be decided. It may be that, for this year at least, 'The Duke Of Cumberland' in North Ferriby may have to suffice. If this should be the case, a more upmarket venue will be sought for next year's convention instead. Please keep an eye on 'The Dreamsville Rocket' and the 'Dreamsville Inn Forum' for further announcements about this year's convention though.