Issue 1 - May 2005
BILL NELSON UNVEILS NEW WEBSITE!
For some time now, Bill Nelson has dreamed of creating a website which could serve not only as a research center for fans of his creative work but also as an expression of his personal life and interests. Now, with the launch of the first phase of 'Dreamsville, The Official, Global, Bill Nelson Website', that dream finally begins to materialise.
Dreamsville is a digital hamlet that will eventually house all manner of delights, a domain that will allow its citizens a direct insight into Bill's life and work along with the multitude of things that have inspired it.
The site appears in a fairly rudimentary form at this moment but will gradually be expanded as time allows. Bill's priority will always be his music and so the development of Dreamsville will, quite naturally, have to fit around this core activity. Eventually, however, Dreamsville will provide a complete and unique resource with a personal touch and attention to detail that can only be found in an artist originated and run site.
Like any new town, Dreamsville comes loaded with hopes and aspirations, manifestos and ambitions. Its success, however, will largely depend upon its citizens and visitors. In this respect, each individual fan's enthusiasm and input is welcomed. The town's growth and future life depends very much upon the support of all those who consider themselves to be connoisseurs of Bill Nelson's complex body of work. To help create a sense of community, 'The Dreamsville Inn' has been specially constructed as a means of communication for all loyal Nelsonians, world wide. It is hoped that this pleasant and traditionally 'English' location will provide a hospitable meeting place for considered and intelligent conversation.
This very newspaper, 'The Dreamsville Rocket', will be issued as and when news arrives of activities that may interest you. All issues will be archived at 'The Newspaper Office' so that a permanent reference can be built up. You will be able to subscribe to 'The Dreamsville Rocket' for free and thereby be informed of the publication of the latest issue.
Those who have followed Bill Nelson's diary over the years will be able to continue with this by regularly checking in the 'study' area of 'Villa Nelsonia' which is accessible from the town plan on the Dreamsville home page. The ongoing 'Diary Of A Hyperdreamer' will be posted there as each entry is created. There will be other areas within the villa for Bill's personal musings too, although these will appear a little later as the site develops.
So, there you have it... Welcome to Dreamsville and The Dreamsville Rocket.
NEWS JUST IN...
Bill Nelson is planning a U.K. tour for October and November of this year.
It will be a solo tour which will explore a new direction for Bill. As well as the more familiar use of instrumental material, Bill is intending to create several vocal pieces which can be performed live as a soloist, without the need for a band. These new songs will be designed to sit alongside his instrumental work in a harmonious fashion and will place Bill's live work in an entirely fresh context. Bill's previous solo outings have been exclusively instrumental, (except for a performance of 'Wonder Of The Moment' at 'The City Varieties' in Leeds in the Autumn of 2003), so this project is something of an adventure. Bill will also compose some new instrumentals and put together sections of video to fit. The tour's ultimate concept is currently under wraps but further developments and venues will be announced here when appropriate.
A band-based tour, a further development of last year's venture, is being considered for 2006. This too would incorporate a new concept and presentation whilst still touching on some familiar music.
ROSEWOOD: On its way!
Bill Nelson's latest recording project, a two volume set called 'ROSEWOOD, Ornaments And Graces For Acoustic Guitar' is about to be manufactured. It is hoped to make 'ROSEWOOD VOLUME ONE' available sometime in May.
'ROSEWOOD VOLUME TWO' will be released a little further into the summer.
This project concentrates on acoustic guitar instrumentals but is more than just the usual 'unplugged' confections served up as rustic fodder for suburban hillbillys these days. It is a direct linear development from the 'Dreamland To Starboard' album and sets Bill's acoustic guitar in an ambient soundscape that suggests a jazz and contemporary classical context as well as a broader neo-roots music vibe.
The track listing for the two albums is given here:-
'ROSEWOOD' VOLUME ONE-
1. Blues For Orpheus
2. Escondido Oleander
6. Cascade. (Improvisation For Three Harp Guitars)
7. She Swings Skirt
8. Mexico City Dream. (For Gil Evans)
10. The Girl In The Park In The Rain
11. Apollonian Tremolo
12. Giant Hawaiian Showboat
14. The Land Of Lost Time
15. Sleepless In The Ticking Dark
'ROSEWOOD' VOLUME TWO-
3. 'Little Cantina'
4. 'Rolling Home, (Yorkshire Raga No.1)'
7. 'William Is Wearing The Cardigan Of Light'
8. 'The Autumn Tram, (Yorkshire Raga No. 2)'
9. 'Hi Lo La'
10. 'Rising Sap'
11. 'Blue Cloud'
12. 'See-Through Nightie'
13. 'Ordinary Storm, Waiting For Rain'
14. 'The Light Is Kinder In This Corner Of Corona'
15. 'Your Whole Life Dreaming
The Beat Goes On
It is hoped to organise an official Nelsonica fan convention this year.
Plans are currently being discussed and a new venue is being investigated.
The timing of the convention is dependent upon the eventual Autumn solo tour schedule but it is hoped that Nelsonica can be accommodated. Various new proposals have been put forward to develop the convention and provide fans with an opportunity to share a day out with Bill. Live performance will be included in this event, along with other special items of interest. Keep your eye on 'The Dreamsville Rocket' for the latest developments.
BILL NELSON LAUNCHES NEW RECORD LABEL
Rosewood' is a limited edition release on Bill's own 'SONOLUXE' label and will be exclusively available from 'THE DREAMSVILLE DEPARTMENT STORE' or from official merchandising stalls at Bill Nelson's live concerts.
HAROLD BUDD. A SPECIAL TRIBUTE CONCERT
Bill Nelson will be featured in a very special, not to be missed concert for his long-time friend Harold Budd, being staged in Brighton on the 21st of May, 2005 as part of the Brighton Arts Festival. The concert will include performances by Jah Wobble, Robin Guthrie, John Foxx, Theo Travis, Steve Cobby and Steve Jansen, (as well as Bill) plus other special guests still to be confirmed. Check out the Brighton Festival website for further details. This concert can never be repeated and is not to be missed!
ROSEWOOD, Ornaments And Graces For Acoustic Guitar, Volume One
Bill's personal view of the album's development and its place within his work:-
"I'd considered making an acoustic guitar based album for some time... but an instrumental one that would comfortably sit alongside such projects as 'The Romance Of Sustain,' 'Plaything' and 'Dreamland To Starboard.' I also wanted to avoid the obvious 'unplugged' approach. You know the kind of thing I mean, that faintly commercial, middle class, faux-folksy, nouveau-puritanical, rootsy methodism, with its slyly manipulative suggestion of a kind of 'backwoods/backwards' naivety... the easy seduction of an unsophisticated, barefoot girl outside a log cabin with her Ma and Pa away in town to buy feed for the chickens. Or maybe the rustic lure of big beards and banjos, overalls, oil stains and tobacco, the romantic refuge of city boys stricken by an identity crisis. Not that I haven't consciously employed such notions of whimsy within my own music in the past. And I've certainly purchased and enjoyed my own fair share of those kind of albums, authentic or otherwise. So, I'm not coming down heavy on the Hollywood Hillbilly Hordes here. What I'm trying to say is that I wanted to bring something else to this project, other than its essential declaration of woody 'acoustic-ness.'
In one sense 'Rosewood' is a reversal of older confabulations, (look it up, it doesn't exist), that easy thrill of taking technology and applying primitivist attitudes to it... old hat now, (and for some time too). Not that approach, definitely not, but a slightly different one.
From these hesitant attempts to rationalise my methods, you might surmise that Rosewood was deliberately set aside, conceptualised, cut, dried and prepared, before I even tuned my guitar. As if the hatching of a concept was the alpha and omega of the thing. This wasn't quite the case. I may often begin in such a manner but the music inevitably demands its own violent deviation from such restrictions. It inevitably throws a curve ball.
Of course, I always have the option to adhere to the original narrow remit or ignore it completely. I could profitably pursue the clear-cut track of the super-disciplined, minimalist aesthete, or actually have fun and play around with whatever the void throws up. Some would view the latter as a lazy approach but they'd be wrong. It's tougher dealing with the freedom to run anywhere at all in a field, rather than to walk down some pre-ordained white line. The more options available, the harder the task. It can go either way or otherwise. And 'otherwise' is often the best. Just the sheer sensuousness of playing and hearing it play back provides all the joy that I need or would wish to convey... Just because it's there for me and it's mere existence appears beautiful and an accidental miracle of sorts. But... aren't all miracles accidental, God being dead, (other than in the fevered imaginations of the devout?) Despite my half-hearted resistance, I've more than often found that 'going with the flow' leads to far more vital and potent results than pursuing the established art magazine, bourgeois affectations so beloved of the chattering classes... slick, over controlled hang-overs from English '80's Thatcherism. Such restrictive attitudes, to me, are nothing more than cliched expressions of fashion as fascism, (and so on ad nauseum). Music for anal-retentives? Well, suburban coffee table, dinner-party aesthetics are generally guaranteed to bring out the rebel in me. And the boorish, anarchist iconoclast. But then, I'm bound to be biased, aren't I?
Anyway... back to the act of ART and all its absolutely irrelevant, transcendent perversions, the stuff we love and adore: Each time I begin an act of music making, I'm presented with a multitude of options. So many different angles and approaches and obsessions, all competing for my time and energy. Another cliche, perhaps, but: The artist's lot isn't so much to create, as to choose. He is adrift in a whirlpool of possibilities. It is a fierce place. 'Choose' is perhaps a misleading term in this instance. To cast the dice, is probably more apt.
I am, on the one hand, just a simple guitar player with only one song to sing. On the other, I'm a reasonably well read, thoughtful, self-injurious, open-minded, poetically motivated, conceptually aware artist with selfishly personal, troubled and complex ideas to explore, (or 'issues to resolve,' to put it in pop-psychoanylitical terms). Or, on the other hand, (Oh, yes, I have three, you know), I'm simply in love with the sound of music, the physical feel of a guitar and the crackle and fizz and superficial beauty of my own gossamer thoughts and dreams. The latter, most probably. Or perhaps all of the above. Delete according to taste.
With 'Rosewood' I wanted to take a basic, 'primitive' acoustic guitar and deal with it as if it was an electric instrument. This isn't to say that Rosewood is an experimental work. That old Jean Cocteau thing of 'taking a line for a walk' doesn't necessarily denote a dive into uncharted waters... Music's well-mapped oceans are pretty much over-fished anyway. The notion of 'newness' is as much a conservative concept as 'traditionalism.'
An establishment perpetuated myth. Pop-Radicalism is rarely new, only like shifting sand, formed by tides of time and place and commerce, rather than absolute cultural need. Often nothing more than the kind of metaphysical lies touted by snake-oil salesmen, hoping to seduce their customers with the heady perfume of miracles and danger. A pirated, fake Chanel, mixed from sour and stale ingredients, masked with vanilla. It wasn't always so...
Despite all this nebulous talk of here and there, now and then, Rosewood may be perceived by some to be fundamentally, deliciously retrogressive. Also, pretty, attractive, charming, mellow... . The plink, plonk, twang of nostagia.
I cheerfully admit it has much to do with memory and nostalgia... but it remembers a past that never actually existed. The whole thing is a figment of imagination, a chimera, a fantasy projected in Disneyesque pastels. It may appear odd and alien to those few who encountered a head-scratching moment as a result of some of the acoustic interludes on my earlier albums, or to those who still hanker after amped-up '70's guitar heroisms.
It may certainly appear odd to those who are a little too young, old, or insular to have explored the kitsch technicolour fringes of retroland, the lush meadows of English pastoralism, the smokey blue neon of '50's soho jazz clubs, the whirr and gleam of Post-Victorian fairy's wings, the rattle, bang and zoom of tin-can rocketships, the fairground colours of canal narrow-boats, the white hot hiss of steam trains, the warm, glowing golden static of Mullard valves in old radios, the Orson Welles-blessed zither's of Eastern Europe, the eternal attraction of a box of Lakeland coloured pencils alongside crisp, blank, white sheets of paper, the inevitable melancholy of impeding old age and autumn, the remembrance of youth and its follies, the tiny diamonds in snow, just after falling, the stars that shine through windows at night after love and sex, the church bells that drift over meadows and frame the first cuckoo of spring, the winding stream that sings and ripples and dazzles a bumblebee's eyes in summer, the bluebells that swoon beneath trees and perfume my dreams, the clouds that shift, change and form the faces of family ghosts in an August blue sky, the sound of my fingers on the strings of an acoustic guitar, the hum of a broken effects unit... All this, is my Rosewood and more. And Rosewood, in case you hadn't spotted it, is also the name of the most typical wood used in the construction of the fretboards of acoustic guitars. As above, so below. It's all surface and as deep as a wishing well."
BILL NELSON. APRIL 2005
'Sonoluxe' is the latest name in a long line of Bill Nelson originated and owned record labels. It continues Bill's commitment to operating independently of the mainstream music industry, a tradition that Bill began in the very early 1970's with his 'Smile Records' label. 'Sonoluxe' will provide a quality service for those people who appreciate intelligent, stylish music, music that has no need of the narrow categorisation that so sadly limits contemporary listening habits. Each 'Sonoluxe' release will be a little work of art in itself, designed to give years of enjoyment. The label's first release will be the long-awaited 'ROSEWOOD' project.
CARLSBRO TO MANUFACTURE A LIMITED EDITION, BILL NELSON DESIGNED AMPLIFIER!
Due to unexpected demand, Carlsbro amplification are to manufacture a highly limited edition version of the amplifier and speaker cabinet personally designed by Bill Nelson and used by him on last year's 30th anniversary tour. Each unit will carry a specially engraved and numbered plate featuring Bill's signature. Once the initial small quantity have been made, no further units will be built. It is destined to be a rare and valuable collector's item. More news of this exclusive project as it develops.
TWO NEW DIARY ENTRIES
Bill has written two new diary entries, exclusive to Dreamsville. In the first, dated 21st of April 2005, Bill writes about the Dreamsvillelaunch, his10th wedding anniversary and his new plans for an autumn tour, as well as musings on the general election and the joys of a waxed mustache.
In the second entry, dated 28th April 2005, Bill writes about ill health, the first cuckoo of spring, the mastering of Rosewood, Buddhist art, property development and the website launch delay. Diary of a Hyperdreamer is open for you to read on the desk of Bill's study in Villa Nelsonica.
ROSEWOOD - Jon Wallinger gives his personal view
For the last couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of being in possession of a pre-mastered copy of Bill Nelson's latest instrumental CD 'Rosewood - Volume One'.
When I say, "I've had the pleasure", that is exactly what it has been.
This latest recording flows on wonderfully from 'Romance Of Sustain' and 'Dreamland To Starboard'. But whilst those albums were centred around electric guitars, the melody maker on Rosewood is the acoustic guitar.
Headbangers may be disappointed, because at no stage during Rosewood do you get to shake your curly locks, but if you want my advice, play it after a hard day at work, lie back, put your feet up, close your eyes and let the gentle, haunting sounds massage your mind to a state of tranquillity so often forgotten about in today's world.
But it's not just the guitar that sets the scene, there are layers of sounds, very minimal, but what there are fits so well... touches of ethnic percussion in places, bells and wind-chimes. Guitars in reverse appear a couple of times just to remind you who the recording artist is.
It is quite a task to pick out individual song titles for special mentions. When listening to this CD, the tracks seem to merge to become a complete recording. You may have read that Bill spent quite some time working on the track selection and running order, the effort was well worth it, creating a complete journey rather than individual trips. There is just one track that I don't think fits particularly well among the others - I won't tell you which one, I'll let you make your own minds up... it will probably end up being everybody else's favourite!
So if you enjoyed 'Romance' and 'Dreamland' then I predict that you are going to feel the same about the dreamy, ambient world of Rosewood.
Roll on Volume Two...