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Trial By Intimacy (The Book Of Splendours)

Bill Nelson

album box set - 25 January 1985

Trial By Intimacy - Cover
Summer Of God's Piano - Cover
Chamber Of Dreams - Cover
Pavillions Of The Heart And Soul - Cover
Catalogue Of Obsessions - Cover
Currently unavailable

The Summer Of God's Piano:

01)  Antennae Two

02)  Transmission (N.B.C. 97293)

03)  The Sleep Of Hollywood

04)  The Celestial Bridegroom

05)  Under The Red Arch

06)  Orient Pearl

07)  Sacrament

08)  Falling Blossoms

09)  The Difficulty Of Being

10)  Zanoni

11)  The Chinese Nightingale

12)  Tantra

13)  Soon September (Another Enchantment)

14)  Rural Shires

15)  Perfidio Incanto

16)  The Lost Years

17)  The Charm Of Transit

18)  Night Thoughts (Twilight Radio)

19)  Wysteria

20)  Swing

21)  Snowfall

22)  Realm Of Dusk

23)  Over Ocean

Chamber Of Dreams:

01)  The Blazing Memory Of Innuendo

02)  Into The Luminous Future

03)  A Dip In The Swimming Pool Reactor

04)  Tomorrowland (The Threshold Of 1947)

05)  Listening To Lizards

06)  Endless Torsion

07)  My Sublime Perversion

08)  Eros In Autumn

09)  Sleeplessness

10)  The Latest Skyline

11)  Train Of Thought

12)  Parks And Fountains, Clouds And Trees

13)  The Golden Bough

14)  Forever Orpheus

15)  In Arcadia

16)  Sentimental

17)  Autumn Fires

18)  Wild Blue Yonder

Pavilions Of The Heart And Soul:

01)  Gift Of The August Tide

02)  Loving Tongues

03)  Blue Nude

04)  In The Realm Of Bells

05)  Your Nebulous Smile

06)  The Glance Of A Glittering Stranger

07)  Another Kiss For Your Slender Neck

08)  The Warmth Of Women's Eyes

09)  Seduction (Ritual With Roses)

10)  Dreamed Embraces

11)  Herself With Her Shadow

12)  The Exquisite Corpse

13)  Ardent Hands

14)  Her Laughing Torso

15)  Migrating Angels

16)  Les Amoureux

17)  Meshes Of The Afternoon

18)  Mountains Of The Heart

19)  Willow Silk

20)  Tender Encounters (States Of Grace)

21)  Melancholia

22)  The Eternal Female

A Catalogue Of Obsessions:

01)  Sex Party Six

02)  Wider Windows For The Walls Of The World

03)  Time In Tokyo

04)  Happily Addicted To You

05)  Snakes With Wings

06)  The Boy Pilots Of Bangkok

07)  Erotikon

08)  Birds In Two Hemispheres

09)  Windmills In A World Without Wind

10)  Love's First Kiss

11)  Initiation Of The Heart's Desire

12)  Edge Of Tears

13)  Test Of Affection

14)  Words Across Tables

15)  A Promise Of Perfume

16)  This Dangerous Age

17)  The Glass Breakfast

18)  Talk Technique

19)  The Last Summer For Dancing

20)  View From A Balcony


Trial By Intimacy was initially issued as a 4 LP boxed set, limited to 5000 copies, containing four previously unreleased instrumental albums, a set of 8 postcards, and a book of Nelson's photography entitled, The Arcane Eye. The 4 LP set was originally to be called Sensoria, and was to have included Sounding the Ritual Echo rather than The Summer of God's Piano. But as the album was nearing completion, Nelson switched the 1981 album for a brand new collection, reissuing Sounding the Ritual Echo separately later in 1985, but in artwork that complemented the 4 albums housed in Trial By Intimacy.

All copies of the vinyl box featured an unfortunate typo in the subtitle (The Book Splendours).  



After the box had sold out, albums 1) and 2) were re-issued separately on vinyl (Cocteau 1986). Although some discographies list 3) and 4) as having separate vinyl releases (1989), (it was reportedly announced in the press), this seems to have not happened. CD versions of all 4 albums did appear around that time both in the UK (Cocteau) and in the US (Enigma). Any vinyl copies of albums 3) and 4) seen for sale as separate items have almost certainly been liberated from the 1985 box set!

Trial By Intimacy was remastered and reissued on CD in 2012 as a miniature version of the original box set. For this release Esoteric did a particularly fine job in packaging the reissue in a compact version of the original box that housed the vinyl release.



This title is currently out of print, but will be made available as a digital download in the near future.


"Sleeplessness": "features the voice of Sir Compton MacKenzie, advertising Horlicks in the early days of British commercial television." - Bill




"I have often found a painter's sketchbook and his finished work to be of equal interest. Despite their apparent lack of sophistication, sketches invariably posses a simplicity and freshness encapsulating all the essential qualities of an idea. It is with this promise in mind that I release Trial By Intimacy, a musical sketchbook of instrumental moods captured during many private moments over the last few years.

"Although recorded on 'low-tech' domestic equipment, these eighty-three pieces of music are not to be confused with 'demo-tapes' but as a continuation of the process begun in 1979-1980 with my Sounding the Ritual Echo album. The set is presented unpolished and complete with all its technical deformities for which I offer no apology. Despite or perhaps because of this, these previously unreleased pieces have become very dear to my heart.

"Intuition, spontaneity and the high disregard for error correction were the only rules adhered to during the recording process (Laziness sometimes possessing its own virtue). Each piece of music was dealt with as an infant deals with building-blocks and instinct was always given precedence over reason.

"A great deal of time has been spent editing the material into the four albums contained here although there are as yet another forty or so pieces not represented. I acknowledge the difficulties presented to the listener by such a large volume of music and can only suggest that listening should not be rushed in any way. Time and patience will, I hope unveil the innocent charm of what for me has been both a labour of love and a personal exorcism."

- Bill Nelson, Oct '84.  [from the liner notes]

"These were all recorded on very simple equipment, (which is all I had at the time), hence the 'home hobbyist' sound. They were created over a few months, rather than years, if my memory serves me. As always, the titles play an important role in how I intend the music to be heard. They set up a context, an anticipation and an imaginary or real environment for the music to unfold in.
My favourites of the set are probably The Summer of God's Piano and Pavilions of the Heart and Soul. What listeners may not realise is that some of the pieces on those two albums were composed to reflect my initial (and deeply emotional), entanglement with Emiko, a long time, (nine years or more), before we were finally able to hook up together as man and wife. Our fleeting but deeply felt love affair in the early '80's inspired a great deal of music, much of which served to encode our relationship in metaphor and mystery. Because of the relationship's covert nature, instrumentals were often more appropriate than lyrics, (which may have been too revealing). But "Les Amoureux" is a particular example of that inspiration, though there are many others. In fact, I sent Emi copies of the recordings to Tokyo, on cassette, some time prior to them being released in the box set. So there's a great deal of longing, melancholy and romance embodied in those two particular 'favourite' albums."

"It was an interesting period of my life and I devoted a lot of time to collecting and reading books on occult philosophy, magical practices, mystical secret societies, Alchemy, Rosicrucianism, Martinism, Gnosticism, The Golden Dawn and obscure branches of esoteric Freemasonry. I have retained most of these books, some of them quite rare.

"I also became involved in a Rosicrucian Chapter in Leeds in which I eventually served for one year as Master of the Chapter. I was initiated into a French Freemasonic Lodge in London and into a French Martinist Order, (which also had a UK branch in London). I brought almost as much energy and passion to these pursuits as I did to my music and the 'journey' I undertook helped shape some of the music I made at that time...particularly Sounding the Ritual Echo, Trial by Intimacy and Chance Encounters in the Garden of Lights.

"I was involved with such things in a practical sense throughout the 1980's although I'd begun researching these subjects back in the early 70's."

"I was originally planning to call the 4 album set 'Sensoria'...but, before I got to the artwork and manufacturing stage, Sheffield's 'Cabaret Voltaire' came out with something bearing the same I switched it to Trial By Intimacy (The Book of Splendours)."



"The Trial By Intimacy recordings were singularly responsible for my BN obsession..."

"I got a hold of the Trial By Intimacy box set and was blown away by the Bill's massive wealth of creativity - not only in the music he individually conceived, played, and recorded, but also by the collages and drawings that accompanied the vinyls."


"Trial By Intimacy was and is WAY ahead of the curve. These CDs are often on my player, and they are enjoyed and treasured like the jewels that they are."

"I loved the charming simplicity of the Cocteau years, the way Bill would start with a blank slate and build up songs one sound and idea at a time. For a lot of synthesists, when keyboards became polyphonic, they lost some of the simple creativity of creating a piece one mono track (with a monophonic synth) at a time."


"I got hooked on Bill's early instrumental work. It had (and still has!) a very idiosyncratic charm. I'll always have a soft spot for it. In spite of being generated by electronic instruments, it has so much warmth. Very..."painterly" I suppose one could say. I think there is a lot of playfulness and humour too in the use of vocal samples, and even just in the track titles. Some pieces are so evocative in the mental images they conjure; I'd always dream up little video clips in my head while listening.
Luddite that I am, I still prefer the old analogue sounds..."


"Trial By Intimacy was a defining moment in my musical listening career.

"At the time I was in awe that an individual could produce 4CD's worth of such interesting and gorgeous instrumentals in such a variety of styles. Whilst an admirer of others who ploughed a similar furrow, this was way ahead of them.
I still think this collection is one of the most impressive achievements in BN's career."

"This has always been one of my favourite collections. Certainly one of BN's 'Essential Purchases'. The music, the box, the cards, the song titles...everything is so damn perfect!"


"Bill's early electronic albums? I love 'em. I mean, really, really love 'em. Summer of God's Piano, Pavilions of the Heart and Soul, La Belle et La Bete, Chance Encounters, all that period. I think Bill was massively underrated as a synth player/pioneer. It's been said before that he was one of the musicians that paved the way for modern artists such as Aphex Twin, Fourtet, Boards of Canada, the Ghost Box Artists, etc."


"Actually, this box set was largely responsible for me becoming a fan of Bill's music way back in the 80's; it was the first of his solo instrumental work I heard after getting to know of him via David Sylvian's 'Gone to Earth'. I was absolutely struck by the variety, sheer inventiveness and poetry of the music, which sounded like nothing else (and actually, nothing else in Bill's later work sounded like Trial). The visual part of it is also absolutely beautiful, the 'art direction' and the various references in the titles and on the covers subsequently led me to discover artists like Cocteau or Man Ray, for which I will be eternally grateful...

"So I guess, a lot of personal memory in my admiration, but it's a fabulous set of recordings...Well, probably it's just nostalgia (or conservatism), but it's Bill's music from the 80's that appeals most to me, although I love Satellite Songs and Sailor Bill..."

Kalamazoo Kid:

"This set of four albums was huge for me when it came out. Vast, varied, packaged beautifully (the box, the black, the bonus items), crammed with evocative song titles, and unlike anything I had heard before. I judge Trial to be the high water mark for the instrumental approach that began with Ritual Echo and ended with Map of Dreams."


"An absolutely fantastic collection of predominantly electronic music, I am really impressed and somewhat blown away by how much Bill's music continues to delight and surprise me...

"Overall, Pavilions of the Heart and Soul is so far, the stand-out set from the collection for me - "Gift of the August Tide" being my latest obsession.

"But as a complete set Trial By Intimacy (The Book of Splendours) is an absolutely essential work, not only in terms of sheer musical enjoyment, but in terms of further understanding how Bill has progressed as a musician, composer and producer. You can hear even on this technologically limited recording, hints of the rich, layered music that we enjoy from Sonoluxe nowadays but even more importantly, I think this collection beautifully demonstrates the sheer depth of Bill's compositional skills and his sheer talent as a musician (bearing in mind that his guitar playing hardly registers throughout).
And all with no formal training. Astounding!"

Boat to Forever:

"What I really like about the instrumental albums of that period - Ritual Echo, Trial By Intimacy, Chance Encounters - is the strange, ethereal and completely unique sound of those records. A kind of other worldly quality that is only enhanced by the low-fi and basic production of the albums."


"I still have never heard (or seen) anything quite as unique as Trial By Intimacy...

"I spotted it in my local record emporium, this deep intriguing 'box', hiding in-between various other vinyl offerings, yet simply drawing my attention through its presence - the artwork very dark & grainy, against-the-grain of the other 'shouty' record covers. I had to delve further to peruse the contents of this strange & enchanting package...The sprawling list of tracks with the most evocative titles suggested a further mystique within. Just out of reach as out of pocket I had some saving to do!! Would it still be there when I returned? To my joy I cobbled my coins together within days and returned to the store to see it ready & waiting.

"To me, this was an uncovering of a potential treasure-trove of Nelsonic magic! And to this day it remains so...locked in that 'wonder-moment' of its time, refreshing memories of when & where the music made its impact on life's twists & turns...It's obviously made a big impact on many other Nelsonians too!"

"Its undeniable charm lies in the stark & beautifully simplistic keyboard touches, the unfussy synthetic rhythms, intriguing voice cut-ups, and a much-appreciated 'understated' approach to guitar-work...And all wrapped-up in sensuous artwork like no other."

tom fritz:

"I flipped when i found the original vinyl box. Still love it today & always seem to come back to it. Many of my friends have enjoyed it, as well. Another example of how Bill takes something on a small level & elevates it. Old vintage equipment, a little creativity & a man in a musical sand box. "Boys with toys", as it were. Now 30 years on we're celebrating this effort again...& again. Keep smiling your Buddha smile. Cheers"

wonder toy:

"Would listen to that music for hours and hours. I like the drum machine programing from that period, nice and primitive in technology and technique and the warm analogue synthie bits. Those sounds, combined with the tape loop parts and 'found object' approach to sound recording, really opened my eyes as a youngster. Instantly, a whole lot of music became obsolete to me."

"It will change your life. You will stand back in awe. For real. One of the most amazing musical achievements ever released to the public."


"As both a collection of music and a piece of art, Trial By Intimacy has always been an important part of my library. I am so happy to see what an outstanding job Esoteric have done with the reissue, even down to the postcards."


"The little box set replicates the original vinyl version and includes the book and postcards. It is simply a lovely item to hold.

"However, the music contained in the box outperforms the packaging. The instrumentals BN were producing at the time were lo-fi. Regardless of the technology you can hear BN's musical thoughts clearly and expressively.

"I am eagerly awaiting the release of the previous instrumental albums to the box set: Ritual Echo; La Belle and Das Kabinett."


"Allow me to mention that listening to the aural equivalent of taking a bite out of the proverbial "Fruit of the Tree..." Once you hear this album you will stand in wonder on how you got along in life without it. (Hmm, was that a bit too much praise??...No, I do not think so).
Do not hesitate to acquire this set."

mark smith:

"This brilliant box set in vinyl was my first purchase of Mr Nelson and is still one of the few things I would put in my treasure chest (if I had one). Even owning the CD versions already will not stop me from purchasing them again all over again so hearing them being made available in remastered form has made my day. Do yourselves a favor and check these stunning sketches from the master!"


"[The reissue] looks superb. I'm envious of those who'll be having the experience of hearing it the first time. The music is unique and accessible - it conveys mystery & wonder, often extremely haunting and moving. The recording set-up may have been minimalist, but the effect on the listener is anything but."


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