Stereo Star Maps
album - 10 November 2014
01) The Golden Age Again
03) Light In The Head
04) Drift Fictions
05) The Sleeping Body Sings
06) Stereo Star Map Number One
07) These Minutes Are Ours
09) Tangle Of Wires
10) Atoms, Neutrons, Strangeness And Charm
11) The Art Of Thinking
12) Tingalary Man And The Scarlet Fever Kid
13) Chiming Church With Rusty Bell
14) Another Planet
15) Stereo Star Map Number Two
16) The World Is Lost To Us All In The End
Stereo Star Maps is an album mixing vocal and instrumental pieces, issued in a one-off print run of 500 copies on the Sonoluxe label.
The album began life with the working title of Drifters and Steamers, with news of it first appearing on the Dreamsville forum in March 2014. By the following month it had been renamed Stereo Star Maps, although both titles remained possibilities through to May. At this stage in development the album was being planned as a double album, although Nelson kept his options open, admitting that it could turn out to be 2 separate single albums.
With 21 tracks completed, 14 of which were instrumentals, Nelson began to assign particular tracks to other album projects, including Swoons and Levitations and Shining Reflector, which between them swallowed up all but 4 of the completed tracks.
The remaining Stereo Star Maps material was produced during the second half of May through June, with a draft running order announced on 4 July 2014. This was ultimately finalised with some very minor adjustments to the order at the tail end of the album.
Shortly after finishing the music for Stereo Star Maps Nelson was diagnosed with conductive hearing loss in his left ear, which effectively forced him to give up live performances, and sadly brought an end to events such as Nelsonica. However these restrictions in turn led to an increase in his already prolific recorded output, as it gave him more time to devote to making music.
Stereo Star Maps went on sale on 10 November, and was removed from sale a week later due to an overwhelming number of orders being received at S.O.S. Unfortunately, it appeared to some that it had sold out, and at least one copy was sold on eBay for an extortionate amount before S.O.S could put the last few copies on sale again. It finally sold out of its print run on 1 December 2014.
Available for purchase as a digital download here in the Dreamsville Store.
IF YOU LIKED THIS ALBUM, YOU'LL PROBABLY ENJOY:
Shining Reflector, Swoons and Levitations, Fables and Dreamsongs, Dreamshire Chronicles, Loom,
Fantasmatron, Blip!, The Awakening of Dr Dream, Signals From Realms of Light, Quiet Bells
"Some of you may be aware that I'm working on a possible DOUBLE album for early autumn release. The album's title is Stereo Star Maps.
Quite a lot of material recorded so far, but I really want to keep going with this one and build up a large number of tracks worthy of inclusion. When it comes to the cut-off date for assembling the final running order I will decide whether to make it a double album or two individually-titled single ones. A recent aquisition of a Fractal Audio Axe FX unit has inspired a couple of ambient guitar improvisations which sound wonderfully ethereal. They definitely fit the title Stereo Star Maps.
Of course, a variety of styles have been embraced by the tracks I've already recorded for this project, but a certain, nebulous direction is beginning to emerge, based on the two tracks hinted at above. (Well, for one of the discs at least.)
As always, these things are in a state of flux until the Muse says that it's done, but, right now, she's rocking me in her arms and has stars in her eyes! Hopefully, another treat in store when the leaves begin to turn gold."
"The title I initially came up with for this project was Drifters And Steamers, which was inspired by a Felix Kelly painting.
Also, because the first gathering together of possible tracks for inclusion was fairly eclectic in style, I thought of some of them as being 'drifters', (ie: fairly gentle, contemplative pieces in no hurry to get anywhere), and others as 'steamers', (rather more 'driven' or in a hurry)."
The guitar atmospheres on many of these tracks have been created via my recently acquired Fractal Audio Systems 'Axe-FX 2-XL' digital processor. The approach I've taken has been to attempt to slightly blur the structures of these pieces, to locate them in ambiguous, spectral spaces, to scramble the arrangements and sounds in such a way that the songs seem to emerge from a benevolent digital fog, yet still embrace meaning and melody, albeit in nebulous form. You'll have to hear it to understand what I'm driving at.
As always, I'm still struggling with my music, still trying to locate my deeper self within it, and, hopefully, guiding it towards your deeper self too...xxx"
"Tingalary Man and The Scarlet Fever Kid":
"This is a weird one: I didn't write any lyrics down before singing it, just opened up the mic and sung whatever entered my head. No going back over it either, just one single, spontaneous first take. Stream of consciousness stuff, straight from some deep well within.
When it was done, the song turned out to be about a long ago childhood experience when I was four or five years old and caught Scarlet Fever, a dangerous illness which has now been eradicated from the world but, back in the early 1950s was very serious. I was hospitalized and not just sick with the disease but deeply traumatised by the experience of being taken from my parents. After a week or so, my father, against the hospital's advice, insisted on taking me home where I slowly recuperated in my own bedroom, the walls of which were hung with sheets soaked in some sort of disinfectant solution. One morning, during this recuperation period, I awoke to see a snowman materialise alongside my bed, walk down to the foot of the bed, cross over to the other side of it and walk back towards my head and vanish through the wall. A hallucination from the fever, perhaps, or a ghostly figure from the beyond which my infant self interpreted as a snowman? Anyway, that strange incident came back in the free association of the song's lyric.
And the 'Tingalary Man?' Apparently, when I was a very young child, I had a tin toy which was a kind of a circular music box which had a handle on the side. When you turned the handle a short musical phrase emerged, with a sound similar to an African 'thumb piano'. This device was referred to, by my dad, as a 'Tingalary'. Somewhere in the back of my mind it echoes still.
So, this is basically what the song is about, a sick child, a snowman/ghost and a man turning the handle of a tin music box...all set to a kind of abstract, ambient, semi-atonal guitar loop. It's a very strange thing."
"From the opening guitar effects on "The Golden Age Again" to the closing bars of "The World is Lost to Us in the End" this album opens yet another door to the seasoned listener and welcomes all to yet more musical discoveries from the creative mind of Bill Nelson - a world Bill is constantly exploring, and, thankfully for other fans and visitors to this site, releasing in limited edition albums.
Stereo Star Maps is release number 35 under the Sonoluxe imprint and yet again, for this listener it breaks new ground. This album has a sense of playfulness and lightness, is dreamy, haunting and at times relaxed and contemplative."
Tourist In Wonderland:
"Isn't it just a fabulous album and listening experience?!
Bill pushing forward, moving into unchartered waters, mapping a new course of wonderful musical possibilities for us to discover and share, if we dare take the plunge...Well I'm in!...100% and all the way, following the guiding, twinkling star on the horizon and what a wondrous journey lies ahead...Stereo Star Maps is really having a very deep and profound affect on me, something I've not experienced quite so intensely in a record for some time, (although I do think the last six or seven years has seen Bill Nelson release consistently progressive and fabulous albums, some of the best of his career so far IMHO) and for that, I am truly grateful, nobody does it quite like Bill..."
"I have found some of my best experiences when listening to this particular album are when I'm a little frazzled, a bit stressed mentally, a little 'world weary'...it always seems to get me back on track. Sometimes I feel like an old negative roll of film, neglected and left on a shelf, but gradually being reanimated by an infusion of mesmeric Bill Nelson aural chemicals and alchemy...shaped, bent, stretched...pulled back into focus..becoming a proper picture once more...the healing powers of 'proper' music...
Stereo Star Maps is a wonderful experience...I love Bill Nelson music..."
"Ahhhhhh Bill...I do love it when you are in Interstellar Space Transmission mode. I've been listening to your new album all week as I drive to work in the dark, rain and fog and am finding it to be the perfect contemplative accoutrements to my travels. About the only critique I would level is that this record should come with a warning label that listening can transport you to other realms. I've had hallucinating snowmen dancing through my head all week."
"I can't pick out individual pieces as special because the whole album has that touch of magic about it. I was only going to play a couple of tracks a second time but ended up listening to the complete disc a second time.
I think I have a new favourite. Don't miss this one."
"Drift Fictions":- "one of those seemingly effortless organic pieces that makes me think Bill has a device from the future which enables him to record direct from his unconscious to disc."
"There's so much I love about this album. By the end of track six, you've already got "your money's worth", but the album's only just begun! Current favourite track: "Stereo Star Map Number One" - one of those atmospheric instrumental pieces that puts you straight into another world."
"The Sleeping Body Sings":- "Takes you by the hand and walks you into one of those strange fictional worlds hinted at previously, where 'church bells chime their rusty bells' and 'ghosts' and 'demons' inhabit the darkest hours of night... the past not only haunts the 'now' but also seems to give it a strange kind of meaning by breathing new life into it and feeding the imagination which is the 'life blood' that keeps the artist creating his/her art...
"Tingalary Man and The Scarlet Fever Kid" feels like a folk song from out of a contradictory wrinkle in the space-time continuum where Mr. Nelson seems to enter and exit at will...a kind of future-past dimension where dreams become part of the waking world and the waking world enters the realm of dreams...it's a place Mr. Nelson inhabits effortlessly like a musical shaman in order to return and report what’s been revealed to him...
In "Stereo Star Maps Number Two" Bill sings for guidance to be brought back 'home' to his own 'centre' or true self. He repeats the refrain like you would a prayer or incantation as a way of focusing all efforts and energies into traveling back toward that (musical) place that can only be found by following the direction of your own instinctual 'stereo' map of the heart...
"The World is Lost to Us All in the End" completes the SSM journey on a poignantly sad note...an honest summation of the realities facing all of humanity...all the beauty as well as the sadness of life that even the artist is at a loss to explain and can only offer us his own sense of helplessness in our struggle to find hope and meaning when we reach that final hour...(and the rusty church bell begins to ring...)
Thanks Bill...really enjoying this one!"