album - 16 June 2008
01) Beauty Rides the Last Bus Home
02) The Fabulous Whirlygig of Now
03) Autumn Drowns Apples in Golden Tides
04) Silvertone Fountains
05) La vie Moderne
06) Slow Clouds
07) Happy in My Helicopter Hat
08) December Waltz
09) The World Sleeps Late on New Year's Day
10) Young Dreams, Whirled Away
11) Spearmint and Moonbeams
12) We Vanish at Shadowfall
13) The Bells of Villefranche
14) Fish are Dancing in the Fountain of Dreams
15) Shower of Sparks
Silvertone Fountains is an instrumental album issued on the Sonoluxe label in a single print run of 1000 copies. The album was recorded as the first part of a trilogy of complementary releases, the associated albums being Illuminated at Dusk (issued concurrently with Silvertone Fountains) and Mazda Kaleidoscope.
Work on the album effectively stretches back to mid-2007 when Nelson was developing an album project called Frankie Ukelele and the Fire in the Lake. Before that album had been fully realised much of the completed, material was transferred to what became the And We Fell into a Dream album, with the residual material initially retained for a revised Frankie Ukulele album.
Around the time of Nelsonica '07, Nelson re-thought his plans and abandoned the Frankie Ukulele concept altogether and shifted his attention towards a new album called Silvertone Fountains, which initially contained a mixture of both new material as well as tracks slated for inclusion on Frankie Ukelele and the Fire in the Lake. Nelson revealed in a diary entry dated 4 December 2007 that he had prepared a CDR of the new compositions ear-marked for this album which he distributed to members of the Nelsonica team. In the event though just 2 tracks included on that early draft version of Silvertone Fountains would make it to the finished album, with all but one track ("The Lost Art of Doing Nothing") distributed among four other future album releases, namely Illuminated at Dusk, Clocks and Dials, The Dream Transmission Pavilion and Here Comes Mr Mercury.
In January 2008 Nelson produced another album's worth of guitar instrumentals that would signal completion of both Silvertone Fountains and Illuminated at Dusk, the track listings for which were simultaneously confirmed in February 2008.
2008 was clearly an important year for Nelson who would celebrate his 60th birthday in December, and each album issued that year would bear a special 60th birthday insignia in recognition of this fact. The year would see Nelson issue a total of 5 distinct albums in a period of around 7 months, making it as prolific a year as 2004. It would set a standard that, more often than not, would be matched in future years.
Currently out of print and a potential future Bandcamp digital download reissue.
IF YOU LIKED THIS ALBUM, YOU'LL PROBABLY ENJOY:
Mazda Kaleidoscope, Illuminated At Dusk, Dreamland to Starboard, Return to Jazz of Lights,
Luxury Wonder Moments, Gleaming Without Lights, And We Fell Into A Dream, Rosewood One, Rosewood Two
"Each album is designed to bring its own distinctive colour to the trilogy. My original concept involved listening to the albums in a fixed order...Which is as follows: Silvertone, then Illuminated, followed by Mazda."
"Silvertone sets out the stall, as it were, introducing a calm and contemplative note in the listener but also hinting at things to come on the companion albums. It is a quite intense album in some ways, exploring various corners of my work in an introspective fashion, though there are light-hearted moments too. The tracks should not be judged by only hearing the first minute or so of each track in 'channel-hopping' fashion though. The pieces sometimes go through quite dramatic changes within each composition, often ending up in a different musical space from the one in which they started. (For instance: "Young Love Whirled Away" begins as a melancholy, other-worldly waltz, then mutates into a brief 'ambient noise' interlude before plunging enthusiastically into a hot 'jump-jive' barnstorming guitar section.)
It's important to hear each piece in its entirety. This album requires complete, concentrated listening...rather than a skimming through the intros of each track to seek something instantly appealing. It will reward the listener who appreciates subtleties, detail and cross-references to other styles of music. It's also quite an emotional album for me, containing much tenderness, as well as careful thought."
"I was listening avidly to the great jazz guitarists long before I became a professional player with Be Bop Deluxe and I've always 'had a thing' about the sound and feel of a traditional archtop acoustic-electric guitar. My recent instrumental music fuses these long-time jazz leanings with rock, avant and ambient tendencies...it's not 'fusion' music but something beyond that, something personal.
The recently released instrumental albums, Silvertone Fountains and Illuminated At Dusk, provide particular examples of this approach. The guitar playing on them mixes more traditional, rich and luxurious jazz guitar sounds with bright n' shiny rock n' roll tones. (The former from my Peerless 'Monarch', the latter courtesy of my Campbell 'Nelsonic Transitone' signature solid-body guitar and my Eastwood/Airline retro-styled instruments.) I've always derived a perverse pleasure from playing games with musical expectations, whether those expectations are mine or my audience's."
Bill's Listening Suggestion of the Day:
"A track with a sort of 'split' personality today: "Young Dreams Whirled Away", an instrumental from the Silvertone Fountains album.
The track opens with a short blast of weird amusement arcade bleeps and buzzes before turning into a light, jazzy waltz with arpeggio guitar chords and a clean, reverb-tinted and echo-delayed Space Guitar solo, improvising over the previously mentioned chord changes...a contrapuntal feel to this section...then a short but ambiguous, floating, almost ambient bridge into section number two: A fast, tricky, almost '50s Be Bop jazz meets '70s funk guitar jam with harmony lead guitar overdubs and a sound that brings to my mind the idea of a non-existent album titled 'Les Paul on the Moon'.
This is one of my favourite guitar recordings from my albums, though it was quite demanding to record. Play it nice and loud to get the full effect!"
"The album's title comes partly from the old 'Silvertone' guitar company of America. Think of it as a fountain of shining, silver strings."
"On Silvertone Fountains, the track, "Autumn Drowns Apples in Golden Tides", alone is worth the price of admission. That's followed by the sublime title track. That's enough beauty to last the whole day, but you're still only at track 4!"
"An absolute must-buy."
"This is a lush, exciting, thrilling sonic experience, and reaffirms why I am such a fan of Bill's work and have been for so many years."
"The standouts for me so far are "Happy in My Helicopter Hat" and "Young Dreams, Whirled Away" which is heartbreakingly beautiful.
Oh...and Bill, your guitar playing has never been more wonderful. Thank you."
"The song "Silvertone Fountains", so sensual, followed by "La Vie Moderne' with its changes and moooods...This has got to be at the top of the list of the best Bill Nelson music, of all eras."
"It's like sipping from a tall glass of lemonade while lounging in a hammock on a warm breezy day. I love Bill's playing! "Young Dreams, Whirled Away" is incredible!"
"Young Dreams Whirled Away": "Could go on forever as far as I'm concerned!"
"I can't recommend Silvertone Fountains enough. It's one of my favourites."
"I have listened to both new albums [Silvertone Fountains and Illuminated at Dusk] several times now, and I have to say I'm very impressed. At this early stage, Silvertone is my pick of the two, but this could change. I struggled with And We Fell Into a Dream at first but play it often now.
On a different note, I find it remarkable that 33 years! after purchasing my first Bill Nelson recording (Futurama) I still feel that same sense of anticipation and excitement whenever I hear a new album as I did way back then. I can't think of any other musician/artist that has had that affect on me. It must be quite an achievement to have maintained a career in such a fickle industry for so long, particularly as an independent artist, and it's a great tribute to Bill's abilities and creativity that he's still around."
Space Buddha No1:
"I guess what really keeps me listening is the sense of being called along on a journey I don't really understand. I listen to a vast amount of different musics all the time but always return to discover this one obsessive journey into creativity.
It's sometimes tempting to try and imagine a linear narrative connecting all the ideas but it's also clear that it's a futile game. Side paths, loops and eddy currents are all part of the flow. I guess I launched my own boat into the stream of the Nelson oeuvre after hearing "Do You Dream in Colour" and "Revolt Into Style" back to back and became fascinated with the juxtaposition and continuity. These latest two [Silvertone Fountains and Illuminated at Dusk] just push me further into discovery."
"He's doing everything right musically. I'd burn my entire Be Bop and Red Noise collection before I'd part with Silvertone Fountains."