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Bill Nelson - The Love That Whirls (The Diary of a Thinking Man) CD (album) cover


Bill Nelson


Crossover Prog

3.88 | 12 ratings

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4 stars Bill Nelson remains the artist that could, should and would. Founder of art rock band Be Bop Deluxe in the 70s, he was responsible for stretching the boundaries of conventional rock music by introducing a new style of guitar playing (he has a unique tone and timber that defies description or imitation) that should have placed him high up on the podium with the usual guitar suspects (the 3 Hs, Latimer, Gilmour, Fripp and co) but for an incredible artistic obstinacy that is truly noteworthy. This is one artist who has NEVER caved into the audience demands and corporate obligations, forging his own path and damn the critics. Bill Nelson is prog's ultimate rebel but has survived nearly 40 years of continuous releases that all have been stamped with one massive seal of originality. Experimental, audacious, post-punk, electronic and daring. This second solo album was perhaps his first success, garnering attention in new wave circles with a plethora of scintillating little snippets of utterly danceable genius, foreshadowing and influencing artists such as U2, David Bowie, Gary Numan, Ultravox, Images in Vogue, Japan, Depeche Mode etc... He has played sitting next to the legendary Robert Fripp on a David Sylvian album, as well as a massive slew of session work. His catalogue is gigantic, not far from Tangerine Dream, Oldfield, Hawkwind and Wakeman numbers. He is still going strong today, far from the spotlight.

Highlights are plentiful such as the extraordinary "Empire of the Senses" with its robotic propulsion, absolute incredible vocalizing (the man can sing too), the genius xylophone amid the swirling synths and the wistful atmospherics. This segues rather smartly with "Hope for the Heartbeat", a hypnosis-inducing electronic paragon of sound and texture that would make Kraftwerk blush with envy! Highly original, a whirling dervish of a tune that again defies proper description. "A Private View" remains one of my fave songs of that era, a punky, Magazine ?like rhythm that reaches soaring heights, both musically and vocally, a seed that would be reaped by many new wave artists after him. Yet, the synths are not just sequence-oriented rhythmic columns, as the Middle Eastern tortuous main melody would simply confirm. "Eros Arriving" has a distinct Chinese-tinge, wrapped in an electronic blanket of propulsive sound, a clean drum computer leading the way, slashed by some distinctive guitar swaths, rubbery bass and more of his oddly jaded vocal styling. Fun, fun, fun! "Flesh" is complex, rollicking , almost punkish , served up with a weird tortured sound and rather nasty lyrics , possibly providing Billy Idol with the idea behind "Flesh for Fantasy", guitar rasps and synths going haywire in the meantime. Fascinating! "He and Sleep Were Brothers" continues on the ingenious path, a concrete jungle of firm beats amid uncivilized synthesizer twirls, sizzling guitar mists and shadowy vocals. The result is captivating, totally unformulaic and experimental. The mellifluous "When Your Dream of Perfect Beauty Comes True" (did I mention his skill at creating apt titles for his albums and songs?) is an extension of his resourceful songwriting style, polyrhythmic web of synthesized sound , sequenced and seasoned to perfection, an instrumental classic. "Flaming Desire" is the hit single (joking!) that shows off absurd pop sensibilities by taking the arrangement to the most uncommercial heights (as per the disjointed synth solo) , showcasing tortured solos and lofty vocals both adorned with a sense of insanity that is most beguiling. "The Crystal Escalator in the Palace of God" is celestial experimental music, again constructed on a spellbinding beat with flowery synth passages that evoke upward travel, world-weary vocals and a sense of sonic infinity. The details are abundant and thrilling.

The "epic" track is the finale "The October Man"featuring the real drums of Bogdan Wiczling (Adam & the Ants, Lene Lovich, Fingerprintz) and a massive exclamation point on the proceedings, a 6 minute 42 second whopper of a track that shows off his snake-like lead playing, aided and abetted by some colossal rhythm guitar riffs that plaster the arrangement with huge sound and dimension. This is no wimpy stuff!

Nelson is also into magical moods and diverse textures (many of his albums from this period were airy instrumental music of the highest order), as eloquently shown on the ambient "Waiting for Voices", the experimental "The Bride of Christ in Autumn", the elegantly dissonant and piano-led "Portrait of Jan with Flowers" and the mystical "Echo in her Eyes". Mind music of the times, simple, effective and mesmerizing!

My copy has 3 bonus tracks, a sexy remix of "Hope for the Heartbeat " as well as the punkier and fretless bass fueled "Haunting in My Head" and the sizzling guitar workout "The Passion" with its cowboy aroma, as if from a spaghetti western, with a punkish attitude.

An immense talent, a wizard and a true star.

4.5 Dancing Shivas

tszirmay | 4/5 |


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