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album - November 1990

Bill Nelson

Simplex - Toneswoon Cover
Simplex - Reissue Cover
Simplex reissue page 9
Simplex - Original Cover
Simplex original page 3
Currently unavailable


01)  Awakening

02)  Almost Unchanging

03)  Bittersweet

04)  Ringing True

05)  Celestial East

06)  Some Distant Time

07)  The Profaned Sanctuary Of The Human Heart

08)  Forms In Open Spaces

09)  Raindrum

10)  Female Form

11)  Archetypes

12)  Solid Spaces

13)  Abstracted

14)  Heptarchia

15)  Climbing

16)  Waiting For Rain

17)  Aqua Magica

18)  Summer Shower

19)  Hammertheme

20)  The Cloud Of Unknowing

21)  Bending A Knee At The Altar Of Sacrifice

22)  A Parting Of The Ways

23)  Bronze

24)  To Jan From The Shining Stars

25)  Arrangement Of Roses

26)  Likewise Is Said Elsewhere

27)  Child Of The Dream

28)  The Enclosed Garden

29)  The Christmas Gift

30)  Heros De Lumiere

31)  Your Morning Blessing


Simplex is an instrumental album initially issued on Cocteau Records by Nelson's then manager Mark Rye, without the artist's permission.  This period of Nelson's career was mired in managerial misdemeanours, which was not helped by the unstable relationship that existed between the artist and Mark Rye at the time.  Nelson also had the distraction of a failing marriage to contend with.

Nelson had previously mentioned the Simplex album within the pages of Acquitted by Mirrors as a future project, and it had even been assigned a US catalogue number as part of the Enigma series of reissues (released just ahead of that record label's collapse).  One track from the album even appeared on the US Enigma compilation The Strangest Things: A Collection of Recordings 1979-89, but the full album release never came to fruition.

Simplex's first appearance occurred in late 1990 when Mark Rye apparently took it upon himself to press up approximately 1000 copies of the CD, and offered a copy to each of the 295 members of The Cocteau Club in lieu of issue 16 of Acquitted By Mirrors.  The magazine and Club EPs had appeared with decreasing regularity since 1986.

Surplus copies of the CD were eventually released to UK high street record shops, most likely resulting from further business dealings centering around Mark Rye's activities.  Nelson has stated on a number of occasions that none of this activity was done with his knowledge or approval.



Simplex was finally given an official release in 2000 (with redesigned artwork) when issued on the Toneswoon label.  Sadly, even this release of 500 copies appears to have not directed the due royalties to the artist.  The album was deleted in this form sometime around 2004.




Simplex was then reissued in 2012 in a third sleeve design as part of the Esoteric/Cocteau Discs series of releases. 

Although this album is out of print as a physical CD, it is available as a digital download via major online retailers.


Chameleon, Map of Dreams, Altar Pieces, Chance Encounters in the Garden of Lights, Crimsworth,

Optimism, Iconography, Mazda Kaleidoscope, Non Stop Mystery Action, Signals From Realms of Light



"Simplex contains only a fraction of the music I made for the film ['Henry Moore and Landscape'].  Simplex isn't meant to be a soundtrack album as such, the vast majority of the music on the album was created quite separately from the film's soundtrack and has no real connection with the documentary.  However, the recordings were made in a similar frame of mind and could be said to be in the same short-form, minimalist style."

" 'Short form' or 'miniature pieces' can be very beautiful, simply because of their brevity and directness...kind of musical 'haikus'.  (A Haiku is a very short Japanese zen poem).  I made an entire album of these musical haikus's called Simplex and contains lots of tracks but each one is relatively brief.  For those of you who don't know this album, it's well worth checking out.  One of my own favourite projects from the past."

"Part of their charm is that they were recorded using very basic, (and by today's standards, primitive), technology.  The Trial By Intimacy box set and Chance Encounters in the Garden of Lights are particular favourites of mine from that period and point towards my more recent keyboard based adventures.  Simplex is another favourite of mine from that time.

Like all forms of artistic self-expression, music grows and develops along with the artist's personal development.  Those albums paved the way for many of my more recent recordings, albums such as Theatre of Falling Leaves, Gleaming Without Lights, Mazda Kaleidoscope and Non Stop Mystery Action.  (To give just a few examples).
The Signals From Realms of Light album, (to be released later this year), also has its roots in that sort of thing.

So, the core attitudes and concepts behind those early instrumental albums is still influencing my work but expressing itself in increasingly sophisticated ways and using a richer pallette of tonal colours."




Review by Dmitry M. Epstein



"What a top-flite collection!!

Whether you're locked into specific era(s) of Bill or if you're like me and you hear Bill's oeuvre as one great era,
Simplex is essential!

It revives the weary and leaves room for deep dreaming and contemplation.

It is like pure water for a parched throat.

Two thumbs up."


"What a wonderful album, this has gatecrashed my top five."


"Simplex is a really beautiful CD, full of ambient sounds that are in the same vein as Chance Encounters in the Garden of Lights - a must have for any serious fan of Bill.

You will not regret buying Simplex, it's one of my favourite CDs."


"In my opinion Simplex is one of those albums which proves the point that sometimes 'less is more' - an album which conjures up great atmospheres and 'landscapes of the mind' as they say - love it."


"Absolutely brilliant!  Bill, your more ambient works like this are for me, pretty much as good as it gets.



"Simplex is off-the-scale sublime in my opinion.  An essential album."

Alan Cawthorne:

"How Bill got some of those sounds from his keyboards at the time is beyond me.  Some sound manipulation.  It just goes on and on and on.  No fillers whatso...Masterpieces."


" 'Awakening' (first track) would get my vote for most evocative piece of music under 2 minutes long ever recorded.  Other remarkable pieces: 'Archetypes', 'Summer Shower' (and many others - the album is full of them)."


"This is an album that needs to be heard on a good stereo system or headphones.  It contains many details and nuances that might go un-noticed if you were to try to listen to it in your car (I tried) or on a mediocre system.

This album made me feel like I was wandering through a different place with each piece.  I got distinct impressions of large spaces like caverns and cathedrals, rolling hills and outdoors imagery, and many other images, that are strangely, all in black and white.  I wish I could see the images that Bill attached these pieces to, as to see his original intention.

I'm glad that I took the chance and got this album.  It evokes feelings and imagery that seem to change with each listen.  I think that I am going to enjoy this album for a long time to come."


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