The Dreamshire Chronicles
Listening Notes to accompany the album
The Dreamshire Chronicles
by Bill Nelson
1: 'Prelude: The Night Is Lit By Diamonds.'
A gentle electronically treated piano and reverse guitar lead to a processed percussion loop. Chorused, echo chamber guitar floats languidly. A two minute forty four second instrumental.
It suggests starlight shimmering above the slumbering towns and villages of Dreamshire, settling and centering the listener's mind in preparation for the movie in sound about to begin.
2: 'Welcome To Dreamshire.' (Monitor Mix.)
A heavily treated percussion loop underpins this mid-tempo vocal ballad. A romantic but melancholy song whose opening lyrics are: "I dream of cities that don't exist, faces of people I've never met, empty streets bejewelled with rain..." Instrumental textures combine strings and woodwinds with Hammond organ and electric guitars. A couple of liquid, melodic, sustained guitar solos enhance the song. A brief toy xylophone line concludes it. This is the first of two mixes of this song. (The second appears on disc two.) This one is a monitor mix which is more or less as it sounded whilst I was still working on the piece in my home studio. It has a simple, intimate quality which I liked, hence its inclusion here.
3: 'The Pleasure Boaters.'
Somewhat dark and mysterious. A one minute and thirty six second instrumental. Brushed drums and chiming guitars lead to an Indian orchestra and reverse guitar conclusion. Brief but moody.
4: 'This Everyday World.' (Vocal version.)
Spooky opening cuts suddenly to piano and orchestra for this melodic song which is a distant cousin to certain tracks on 'The Alchemical Adventures Of Sailor Bill.' Time signature fluctuates between 4/4 and 3/4 (Waltz time.) Lyrics open with: "This everyday world is a haunted place...This everyday world, far from commonplace..." The song's coda shifts pace as a steam driven percussion loop enters and tremolo guitars accompany the repeated refrain "Voices in the darkness..."
5: 'Rainboy And Whistledog.'
Thunder and rain opens this charming, chiming, freely improvised instrumental. A latin percussion loop suggests a mutant mix of cha-cha and bossa nova. (Spot the piano quote from 'Begin The Beguine.' ) Squelchy synth bass underpins twangy guitars and ghostly strings as Rainboy and his Whistledog wander the cobbled streets of a gaslit Dreamshire town sparkling with night rain.
6: 'Young Marvelman.'
Opens with needle static, brushed snares, raindrop-piano and dreamy guitars, leading to a strange and moody song inspired by the 1950s comic book character 'Young Marvelman' who, in my imagination is a denizen of Dreamshire.' Lyrics include: "Young Marvelman hovers in halogen, miraculous powers under control...Ladies in lavender gaze at the bolt from the blue...so there he goes and everyone knows, Young Marvelman..."
7: 'Garden Railway.'
A whimsical little instrumental which opens with synthesised 'steam' effects leading to electronic percussion, piano melody, choral motifs, plucked strings and backward harps as a miniature railway train puffs its way happily around the garden of one of Dreamshire's more eccentric lords of the manor.
8: 'The Shimmering Threshold (On Your Bike Emperor Ming.)'
A vocal ballad this, beautiful but not a little strange. A sample of the lyrics: "Mandolin by the sea, broken clarinet, mandolin by the sea....My location on your dial, my name on the edge of your smile, roller coaster century...And there we stood, on the hilltop, looking at street lamps and stars...Chimney stacks and viaducts, smoke that blows away, blows away...The shimmering threshold..."
An oriental melody enters followed by lyrics referencing 'Emperor Ming' from the old 'Flash Gordon' Republic film serials of the 1930s. A combination of orchestra and electric guitar leads to a change of tempo and fast synthetic phased drums as a weird coda kicks in with cellos, electric guitars and a lyric which sings, "Oh my God, this looks like, oh my God this looks like, some weird kind of apparition..." The song ends with a burst of heavily distorted guitars, running in both forward and reverse gear.
9: 'Evening Star Electric Park.'
An eight minute forty six second instrumental featuring slightly oriental Marimba patterns with improvised jazzy guitar overdubs. Has an overdriven guitar break leading to a piano section, then key change into a four to the floor rhythm with fuzz guitar then a return to marimba and jazzy improvisation. Mood alternating throughout between jolly and sinister. Other worldly voices enter, leading to a 'musical box' loop coda over which Gretsch guitars intertwine and twang. A Mini-Moog synth enters and snakes its way through the undergrowth before vanishing. Ghostly voices return to conclude the piece. What exactly lurks in this mysterious Park? Sacred monsters or creatures of Faerie?
10: 'Sailing To The Moon.'
A single sub-bass note begins this two minute and twelve second vocal-based song as a swell of processed guitars and soaring strings set the opening mood. A guitar loop enters and the vocal begins "This garden is a theatre in which colour casts its spell...This window is a portal through which ghosts are bid farewell..." A gigantic orchestra enters then dissolves as a woodwind loop gently ends the track. Short but widescreen.
11: 'The Milky Way (Burning Bright.)
An abstract opening to this instrumental featuring 'found' voices. Insect-like high speed percussion kicks in and the textures shift between guitar, synth and strings, ending in a bizarre, haunted sound collage.
12: 'The Sparkling Idea.'
Feedback guitar starts this song before tremelo guitar pattern enters with Indian orchestra, sitar, Moog and medium tempo drums. The lyrics begin: "My left hand holds a key, my right hand holds another...My mind defines the centre and all extraneous thoughts are dimmed..." A heavy guitar riff underpins an instrumental theme from the Indian Orchestra. More lyrics, "My left hand beats the drum, my right hand calls the thunder...Sometimes I'm struck by lightning, sometimes I'm struck by wonder..." A huge orchestra crescendo leads to quiet coda and oceanic synth and piano ending.
13: 'Ghosts Wind The Parlour Clock.'
A one minute and twenty one second instrumental combining sample-and-hold synth sounds with strings, woodwinds and harp.The tick of the parlour clock sets the tempo. But who's hand is winding it?
14: 'Spooky Little Thing.'
A poppy vocal in this whimsical song which cheekily references titles from several of my albums. (I won't quote from the lyrics on this one as it will spoil your fun!) Guitars, drums, slide guitar and orchestra all combined to create a melodic, catchy and concise number.
15: 'Now I Come To Think Of It.'
This is one of my favourite vocal tracks on the album...psychedelic, trippy, fractured, non-linear. A sample of the lyrics: "Oh yes, now I come to think of it, oh no, maybe some mistake...Oh, yes, now you come to mention it, I guess, we were wide awake..."
Guitars, synths, sitars and strings interact throughout. Enigmatic and dreamlike.
16: 'Spinning Pentagrams.'
Weird opening that sounds as if the guitar has been put through a washing machine on spin cycle, over which a sampled voice speaks of 'the dark mystery of time and space.' This mysterious song develops into a strange kind of blues riff whose reverberating guitar hints at Howling Wolf mashed up with David Lynch's 'Twin Peaks.'.
Here's a peek at some of the lyrics: "Here in the future, in an ancient England, pentagrams spin within electrical circuits...Swan boats drift on a beautiful river, beyond these oak trees, the glorious sea...who can tell if this is real or unreal, who can tell if this was meant to be..." The bridge section vocal has a subtle hint of mock-Cockney, Dick Van Dyke cheeky-chappie pronunciation about it as it sings, "Some days I feel special, some days I feel strange, some days I'm all metal, some days...disarranged..."
An orchestral middle section then enters complete with cocktail piano and ripe flutes, sounding as if they're seeking refuge from a 1960's kitsch television spy series. The song suddenly finishes...but a shimmering loop of vari-speed guitars enters a heartbeat later and initiates a coda featuring underlying dark noise and overdubbed voice samples.
Does this song suggest a bizarre fusion of '60s camp detective Jason King with Elizabethan occult Magus Dr John Dee? Hmmm...Orson Welles would say, "probably."
17: 'The Ruins Of Youth, The Twang Of Tomorrow.'
A one minute and forty nine second instrumental with rippling piano and wiry electric twang guitar which quickly evolves into a picked blues feel. Phased noise ends the piece and ends Disc One of 'The Dreamshire Chronicles.'
1: 'The Reality Of Imagination.'
A five minute and thirty three second instrumental with various voice samples. The voices speak of 'The tomorrow people' and 'The reality of imagination.' The first two minutes of this piece feature guitar, synths and electric piano floating freely through a cathedral-like space...a low, compressed bass drum pulse enters, suggesting the tune's time signature. It is joined by cymbals and high percussion. The main guitar line is then fed through a modulating Leslie cabinet effect, which makes it sound like a hybrid of guitar and Hammond organ. The pulse gradually fades away leaving the guitar suspended in space as the track ends with more voice samples. The concept is of imagination being the key component in the worlds we create around ourselves.
2: 'Smoke Drifts Silent In Autumn Air.'
Grand piano intro then tremolo guitars open this atmospheric and fragile vocal piece. Here are a few lyric examples: "Smoke drifts silent in Autumn air...over rooftops, chimney tops, here, there and everywhere...Colour coded, copper, bronze and gold...wonders to behold, wonders to behold....so pure, so clear, so far, so near..."
Massed strings and underwater guitar enter as the vocal gains strength and rises to sing of "ghosts and shadows." Brass and woodwinds are added to the orchestra as the song's key changes, leading to a piano and flanged rhythm guitar section as the lyrics sing "Kiss me now and light the fire..." The electric rhythm guitar changes to an acoustic guitar and the lyrics tell of "walking in the sunshine...searching for a skyline..." French horns enter with a lovely theme, then strings and chugging electric guitar dropping away to acoustic guitar and piano and a re-iteration of the first verse's lyrics. Ends on chunky guitar chords, string figure and electric piano. All in all, an ecstatic evocation of a glorious Dreamshire autumn.
This one's a mid-tempo guitar instrumental in major key mode, underpinned by drums, dancing filigrees of silvery strings and filtered keyboards. A light, jazzy feel with delicate blues overtones as the guitar explores the spaces created by the various instrumental textures. Three minutes and forty one seconds of pleasantly bubbling, gentle euphoria.
4: 'My Little Book Of Secret Knowledge.'
Opens with found voice samples talking about ritual Cabalistic magic. Leads into a piano led riff with lyrics which tell of "My little book of secret knowledge, the mirror in my hand...that old immortal blooming rose in the suburbs of the damned..." Spooky theremin-like sounds, cymbalon, piano and guitar followed by lyrics singing of "Beautiful phantoms..." A series of unusual and texturally contrasting instrumental changes begins, (including a heavy guitar riff,) as the song winds to a voice sample conclusion. Seems as if one of those grand gilded ruined mansions of Dreamshire is inhabited by an ancient Magus and his library of forbidden knowledge.
5: 'Robots On Parade.'
This is a fun, whimsical instrumental, suggestive of clockwork and electric toy robots marching around a strange Dreamshire toyshop at night. A sampled voice interjects the word "electricity" as guitars and synths create a contemporary version of the English beat group instrumentals of the early 1960s. Think Joe Meek resurrected in the 21st Century and given digital technology to play around with.
6: 'Dark And Complicated.'
Opens with the sounds of a mysterious electro-chemical laboratory, followed by spooky piano and guitar. Here are the opening lyrics to this constantly mutating song:
"It's dark and complicated, deep and still...the chair in the corner sings of its own free will..." Piano, guitar, woodwind and string combinations rise and fall. More lyrics:
"Ghostly apparitions, unbidden visions, strange traffic goes through this room..." A neo-classical instrumental section follows to be joined by rippling electric guitar as the opening lyric re-appears. Another song dealing with the elusive phantoms who populate Dreamshire.
7: 'Blue Beams.' (No drums mix.)
A pure, clean sounding electric guitar duet, one instrument handling chords the other soloing freely over. No drums, no keyboards, no bass...just two guitars sweetly circling around each other. Music played for a Dreamshire night club ghost after the patrons have all gone home.
8: 'More Than Glory, More Than Gold.'
Brushed cymbals and a lone guitar open this romantic vocal piece. Sweet lyrics:
"Sunbeams dappled on ancient walls, Autumn rises as apples fall....sooner or later Winter calls and pours icing sugar over it all...When I stand naked, frail and old and every sound I've made has been bought and sold, I will love you more, truth be told, more than glory, more than gold..." Chiming, chromium guitars throughout with an orchestral middle section. A beautiful, melancholic love song.
9: 'The Lost Planet Of Sunday Afternoon.'
Arpeggio guitar underpins this miniature instrumental. Overdubbed harmony lead guitars build to the track's conclusion. One minute and thirty eight seconds of pure yearning.
10: 'Mass Equals Energy.'
A quirky little song in waltz-time. Surreal lyrics: "Spooky malfunction sparks arc of memory, upsets the applecart, mass equals energy..." Guitar reiterates the vocal line whilst a heat haze of soft synths hum in the background punctuated by raindrop piano. More lyrics: "Isn't this the strangest world in the universe?" More silvery guitar before a brief Giorgio Moroder style sequenced synth coda enters to end the song. It's the musings of a Dreamshire scientist, hunched over his microscope in a small art deco laboratory hidden in the heart of a misty forest.
11: 'The Light Gathering Garden Of Omar Kadiz.'
Minimalist percussion and synthetic choir open this instrumental which features a simple but hypnotic piano melody, reverse guitars and lots of space. Orchestral counterpoint enters here and there, as does retro Moog synth in places. TR808 style hi-hats and hand-claps give an old-school trip-hop feel but the orchestra, electric guitars and choral parts hint at a kind of neo-classical sensibility whilst the guitar adds add a touch of psychedelia. Imagine a mystical garden where flowers glow with an inner neon-like light and trees shimmer silver against a dark thunderstorm sky.
12: 'Windsong Of The Flying Boy.'
A vocal, slightly up-tempo with electric, filtered percussion. A song of the seasons. Some lyrics: "Rosy skies of Evening-land, apple blossom mercury...windsong of the flying boy, all seasons shall be sweet to thee..." More vocals, followed by a change of key then : "Speedboats from another world, mysterious comets, sounds that come and go, teenage electronics..." Which leads to a middle section featuring a wild, non-linear guitar solo before settling back into the melodic verse structure. More lyrics: "Thoughts set sail on silver ships, lost in clouds of mystery, windsong of the flying boy, all seasons shall be sweet to thee..." A melodic, clean guitar solo follows and a percussion break with hovering synths...a return to verse one...lap steel guitar and reverse guitar loop ends the song.
13: 'Henrietta Through The Looking Glass.'
A climbing guitar instrumental with orchestral punctuation and piano cascades. The Henrietta of the title is legendary Soho sub-culture character Henrietta Moraes who was a model for Francis Bacon in the 'fifties. In my imagination she is now one of Dreamshire's gentle ghosts. In this piece she dances, languid and naked, smiling beatifically whilst several elderly gentlemen, dressed in tweed, watch in admiration through her window.
14: 'Luna On The Beach.'
This song was originally recorded for the 'Joy Through Amplification' album but didn't make the final cut. It's a pop-rock thing with lots of wild wah-wah guitars.
Some lyrics: "Give me a signal, wondrous being, draw down the power, the fire and the spark...send me a postcard, fabulous creature, bring me a souvenir from the realm of the heart..." A nice, fat, chunky guitar riff underlines the chorus. The bridge has these lyrics: "Elusive thoughts luxuriate in limpid pools of thoughtful gems...Venus swims amongst the fishes, far beyond the rings of Saturn...Rockets glimpsed in evening skies..." A wonderfully chaotic arrangement.
15: 'Neither Puck Nor Pan.'
A moody, minor-key instrumental featuring processed guitars and electric piano. It evokes and conjures the more shadowy denizens of Dreamshire.
16: 'Welcome To Dreamshire.' [LuxeMix.]
This is a more 'shiny' or polished mix of the song on Disc One. It brings 'The Dreamshire Chronicles' album almost full circle.
17: 'This Everyday World.' (Instrumental Version.')
Whilst working on the vocal version of this piece, I realised that the 'backing track' could work in its own right with a couple of extra overdubs and a little tweaking. This is the result of that process and it ends the album in fine orchestral style as the listener bids farewell to Dreamshire...until the next time!
Music and Lyrics Copyright Bill Nelson 2012 All Rights Reserved.