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Channel Light Vessel

album - 24 June 1994

Automatic - Cover
Automatic inner tray
Automatic reissue cover


01)  Testify

02)  Train Travelling North

03)  Dog Day Afternoon

04)  Ballyboots

05)  A Place We Pray For

06)  Bubbling Blue

07)  Duende

08)  Flaming Creatures

09)  Bill’s Last Waltz

10)  Thunderous Accordions

11)  Fish Owl Moon

12)  Little Luminaries


Extra tracks added to original Japanese CD:

13)  Faint Aroma Of Snow

14)  Lost In Tijuana


Automatic is the first album issued by Channel Light Vessel, released by All Saints Records. Channel Light Vessel was formed following Nelson's work on The Familiar, an album by Roger Eno (piano and keyboards) and Kate St. John (saxophone, cor anglais and oboe), who were already under contract to All Saints Records. With the addition of fellow All Saints recording artist Laraaji (zithers and kalimba) and Mayumi Tachibana (cello), Channel Light Vessel secured a two album deal with All Saints Records.

Work on the album began at Real World Studios in Box, Wiltshire, but the bulk of the work was completed by Nelson, working in Fairview Studios, Hull. The album was issued on CD in the UK, CD and cassette in the USA (on Gyroscope), and on CD in Japan. Japanese copies contain 2 bonus tracks, 1 of which ("Lost in Tijuana") remains exclusive.



A repackaged version of the album was issued in the UK in 2006 in revised artwork, with the addition of a bonus track "Faint Aroma of Snow" (which had previously appeared on a UK sampler CD 'Future Perfect'). This title is out of print, but still available as a download through major online retailers.

Excellent Spirits, Practically Wired, Culturemix, Blue Moons and Laughing Guitars, Luminous,
My Secret Studio, Confessions of a Hyperdreamer, After the Satellite Sings, Return to Tomorrow



"For myself, CLV was a highpoint in my musical life, a peak experience, as was working with Harold Budd. This is the music I most naturally respond to and would do more often, given the opportunity. I absolutely LOVE CLV and would put another CLV album together tomorrow if the funding was there to do it."


"Personally speaking, CLV is one of my all time great joys."

"The name comes from the BBC's shipping weather forecast which, for many years, was broadcast daily on the radio as an aid to sailors in waters around Britain and beyond. A rather 'posh' voice would intone the wind, temperature and sea conditions for each area, and gave mention to a 'channel light vessel', (referring to a ship in the English Channel, a 'light vessel'). The announcer would say 'Channel light vessel: automatic', meaning, I think, a ship with a lighthouse, (or lightship), facility switched to automatic. That's how we came by the name of the first album too."

From a Roger Eno Interview:

As far as his involvement with the latter is concerned, Eno explains that the band came together "by pure chance. I was doing concerts promoting The Familiar with Kate St John in Japan. Laraaji, Bill Nelson, and cellist Mayumi Tachibana were on tour with us, and we'd all play our solo spots. As an encore, we started to jam spontaneous pieces with all kinds of different influences thrown in. To our surprise, these were the bits that the audiences liked most. Things somehow melted together, and because they were encores we weren't over-extending ourselves. It was suggested to us that we make a record on that basis, and that was exactly how Automatic came into being, with everyone throwing in their influences: Bill's hi-tech electric stuff and serious guitar playing, Kate St John's love of French chansons, Laraaji and his spiritual zither, and so on. We put it all spontaneously together in the studio in about three weeks. [Sound on Sound Magazine, October 1996]



"Channel Light Vessel was a great outlet for your talents and it sounds as if the format allowed you to explore other areas of your creativity...
One of my all-time favourite pieces of music is "Bill's Last Waltz". It is so simple and beautiful. If any of you have not heard this, I strongly recommend it as one of Bill's top tunes."


"Bill's Last Waltz": "This is one of my favourite pieces also, so much so that I've planned for it to be played at my funeral.  Bit morbid I know, but there you go."


"Not having CLV recordings in my collection I set about getting Automatic and Excellent Spirits. How chuffed I am now I have these 2 albums ,they are brilliant... Accomplished musicians all and on top of their form with the Bill Nelson influence on both discs shining through. Some stunning e-bow from Bill on both. Both albums certainly keep your attention and you just want the music to go on and on. An array of instruments that blend in perfectly.

Oh, and on the too short "Duende" I wonder if Bill was doing some kind of Riverdance type moves. I bet he couldn't keep still playing on that track.

I know all the old stagers will have these recordings but anyone who hasn't got these gems I would highly recommend getting them. Magical are both, and timeless."

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