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album - September 1988

Orchestra Arcana

Optimism - Reissue Cover
Optimism reissue page 2
Optimism reissue page 5
Optimism reissue page 8
Optimism - Original LP Cover
Currently unavailable


01)  Exactly The Way You Want It

02)  Why Be Lonely

03)  Everyday Is A Better Day

04)  The Receiver And The Fountain Pen

05)  Welcome Home, Mr. Kane

06)  This Is True

07)  Greeting A New Day

08)  The Breath In My Father's Saxophone

09)  Our Lady Of Apparitions

10)  The Whole City Between Us

11)  Deva Dance

12)  Always Looking Forward To Tomorrow

13)  World Thru' Fast Car Window

14)  Profiles, Hearts, Stars

15)  Daughter Of Dream Come True

16)  Alchemia


extra tracks:

17)  Um, Ah Good Evening

18)  Kut Up In Cartoonsville

19)  Short Wave


Orchestra Arcana is a pseudonym Bill Nelson initially devised to overcome contractual issues with CBS/Portrait, that,
by the time of this second release, no longer applied. So although Optimism was credited to Orchestra Arcana in the UK, it was credited to Bill Nelson's Orchestra Arcana in the US.

Optimism was available on vinyl, cassette and, for the first time in Nelson's career, simultaneously released on the UK
 CD edition contained 3 bonus tracks that were not replicated on the US release on Enigma the following year. US vinyl copies (on Enigma) came with a sticker that read "Vocals Discovered and Music Constructed by the Brain and Fingers Behind Be-Bop Deluxe".



Both the Iconography and Optimism albums were collected together with all their extra tracks and released on CD as The Hermetic Jukebox in 2003 (out of print).



Currently out of print and a potential future Bandcamp digital download reissue.


"Whilst these recordings are "lo-fi" in nature, I have always been fond of them. These recordings serve as a reminder that expensive technology isn't always the key to creativity."

"It takes quite a while to get [the voice samples] to sit within the metre of the music. That's why they are sometimes 'slowed down' so that they fit the feel of the song's tempo. Its not simply a matter of just sampling them and then spraying them randomly all over the track. A lot of time is spent choosing their exact placement and fine-tuning their 'groove.'

There are lots of carefully considered details in these instrumental pieces, not just the voice samples, but all the little background ornamentations, the subtle textures of individual sounds, the echoes, reverbs, modulations, eq, filtering, etc, etc...every component has its own reason for existing, its own aesthetic requirement. I spend a lot of time thinking about these tiny sub-structures. My goal is to produce worlds within worlds, spheres of sound and different but complimentary ideas spinning inside each other, gyroscopic fields of sound and meaning.

The surface appears as one complete shiny thing, but the hidden interior is a galaxy of dark stars whirling around each other, waiting for the listener's telescope."



"Really like the samples used in the Iconography & Optimism discs. They are also some of my most-played Bill Nelson tracks."


"I also think Bill was the best sampler of the 80s. Orchestra Arcana, Map of Dreams, etc. all had fantastically, magically manipulated samples played as though another instrument, whilst the rest of the world nicked beats and bass-lines."


"Um Ah Good Evening" (love it - always have) always tests friends of mine who claim to have broad musical tastes, resulting in comments such as 'what the fuck is this!?'...heh,heh,heh."


"The Receiver and the Fountain Pen": "I love that track. I always wonder where Bill found that voice sample. My guess is it's from some old instructional tape for aspiring secretaries. And yet it's so mysterious and alluring."


"I hadn't listened to Optimism in a long time, and gave it a spin the other day, and quite enjoyed it. I was struck by how fresh so much of it sounds to me even now. One can hear foreshadowing of the Demonstration of Affections period, and even After the Satellite Sings, in some places.
This album combines ambient with songs you can dance to (and I did dance to them, as several tracks from the album were featured on party tapes I made "back in the day"), loads of Bill's trademark voice samples, interesting rhythms and a lot of very nice compositions."


"Optimism has that other mellow gem from the same era, "The Receiver and the Fountain Pen". I've got my early dreamy Nelson mix minidisc on're all getting fuzzy...this stuff is so good it makes me feel all liquified and colorized inside...goodbye..."

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