Memories of the Future – a review of “Trial By Intimacy” by Bill Nelson

Trial By Intimacy - The Book Splendours by Bill Nelson
Trial By Intimacy - The Book Splendours

It’s one thing to be one step ahead.  Quite another to be 30 years ahead.  Bill Nelson has continuously innovated in music, sometimes so far ahead of the wave that he has only been noticed through those who have been influenced by him such as The Kaiser Chiefs, Ambulance, The Darkness, Foo Fighters et al.

This boxed set “Trial By Intimacy – The Book Splendours” preceded ambient electronica by a Country Decade and has just been re-released by Esoteric Records, having been out of print for many years on Bill Nelson’s DIY Cocteau Records label.

The box comprises recordings made by Bill Nelson at his “Echo Observatory” home studio. Comprising some eighty pieces of music, the set was a fine example of Bill Nelson’s grasp of ambient music and has subsequently been hailed as a groundbreaking work.

Check out this interview with the gorgeous Mariella Frostrup, which shows Bill Nelson composing material in this genre / period long before anyone owned an i Mac !

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJjvBnQLx0A

Trial By Intimacy” contains four albums of mostly short ambient pieces of music that will provoke, inspire, question, comfort and challenge your views of what one man with a tape recorder can do in a day.  Part of the charm of this material is that it was composed on primitive equipment in Nelson’s studio above the kitchen in his house.  The instruments Nelson chooses vary from state of the art electronica available at the time to children’s Casio keyboards, Marimbas and archive radio extracts.  The contrasts and contradictions between futurama and distant memories, between grown up electronica and childhood musical toys provide the listener with a naïve charm and a connection into the inner soul of the artist.  Many of the pieces were laid down in a native state, without over production and ‘polishing the grooves’ so hard that the artist is drowned in the process.

So, why would you not want to buy this album?   Tough question, but I guess the clue is in the answer to why you would alsolove it.  The primitive approach to electronic ambient music may not appeal to anyone that wants to buy their music fully produced, sanitised and so on.  Some of the pieces are sketches, which may suggest great ideas, but may feel like unfinished symphonies to some.  Bill Nelson is a Yorkshireman and to misquote the bread advert, “Trial By Intimacy” is an album “with nowt taken out“.

If you already own the vinyl, I bet it’s worn out by now.  The record company has also fully restored the original elements of the box set, including a 32-page book of artwork and eight art postcards that featured in the original set.  So, as well as four albums of material that was 20 years ahead of Leftfield, Underworld, Lemon Jelly, Moby et al you get a timepiece of the age via Nelson’s arcane photographs and written words.

Peter Cook, The Academy of Rock

Marconi Union re-release Under Wires and Searchlights & Distance

2011 was the year in which U2 finally got to play Glastonbury only to be blown off stage by Coldplay.  Oh…. and Steps announced they were reforming! I can’t remember if it was ‘due to public demand’ or not.

In July 2011, nine years after they formed, Manchester’s Marconi Union released their fifth album, Beautifully Falling Apart (Ambient Transmissions Volume 1) and the first for the Just Music recording label.

Marconi Union is Richard Talbot, Jamie Crossley and Duncan Meadows.  They formed in 2002 when Talbot and Crossley met while working in a record shop and the following year released their debut album Under Wires and Searchlights, on the Ochre Records label.  But it wasn’t until 2005 that they released a second album, Distance, this time on the All Saints Records label. The following year they played the Big Chill Festival and Eden Sessions, as well as giving their first interview.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=581X-Hs4Y1I

Further albums were released through their official website – A Lost Connection (released as a digital download in 2008 & CD in 2010) and Tokyo (2009).

Duncan Meadows joined Marconi Union on a permanent basis in 2010 and together they released Beautifully Falling Apart (Ambient Transmissions Volume 1). The album drifts even further in to ambient layers landscapes of serene beauty while managing to effortlessly entwine elements and whiffs of dub, electronica, glitch and even Ennio Morricone’s Spaghetti Westerns.  As with much ambient music the album plays out like an imaginary film soundtrack.

My favourite album is Distance which shows a moody, darker side to Marconi Union while they were still toying with lighter beats stimulating the soundscapes rather than the atmospheric purity of Beautifully Falling Apart (Ambient Transmissions Volume 1) that errs away from electronica and towards a contemporary classical music.

Marconi Union are making wonderfully deep, thought-provoking music that should simply be heard and appreciated by more people; which is possibly the reason why Just Music will be re-releasing their first two albums in 2012, along with plans to release a new album next summer.

Beautifully Falling Apart (Ambient Transmissions Volume 1) has six beautifully relaxing tracks that blend into one another leaving the listener in a sublime state of relaxation.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyBl_71beTw

Over the past nine years Marconi Union has quietly whispered their way into the consciousness of those looking to ambient music rather than X Factor 15 minutes of fame.  No fanfares. Their fan base is growing organically through word-of-mouth, without hype.  Their music is continuing to develop a style all of its own with each release.  If you haven’t already indulged your ears in the beauty of Marconi Union, make it one of your New Year’s resolutions.

Album Re-issues
On 30th January 2012, Just Music will be re-issuing two albums by Marconi Union:
Under Wires and Searchlights & Distance.

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Bonjour ‘La Fin Absolute du Monde’

La Fin Absolute du Monde

Buzzin Media are excited to introduce to you ‘La Fin Absolute du Monde’. If you believe in the immaculate conception and that KFC should be eaten with a knife and fork, I strongly recommend you step away from the computer right now and go make yourself a cup of cocoa with a sprinkling of minature marshmallows for good measure. I am a huge fan of anyone who dares to be different and thinks outside of the box and La Fin Absolute du Monde tick all those boxes.

 La Fin Absolute du Monde are Jason and Cyndy ‘Chicky’ Myles from San Francisco. They get my vote immediately for living in San Francisco, which is one of the coolest cities I have visited to date, however, their music is just as diverse, fascinating and exciting. Although Jason has recorded on hiphop albums and played with local San Francisco area based bands, his heart has been Metal to the core.  With influences such as Prince, Dave Mustaine, James Hetfield, Jeff Hanneman, Kerry King, Dimebag, and EVH.

I heard La Fin Absolute du Monde a few weeks ago on Soundcloud. I was immediately entranced by their style of music and by Chicky’s vocals, who may be singing some very dark lyrics at times. Their fusion of Classical and Rock seduced me to listen to more of their tracks. My eyes scanned their profile and immediately I was drawn to ‘Spank’ (Rough Mix). We are all aware that sex sells and so I pushed play! The vocals are delightfully sassy and the rhythm of the percussion is brilliantly seductive. The piano and chimes are also tantalising and try to manipulate the ears into believing this is a sweet natured track.  ‘Spank’ (Rough Mix)  is a clear example of how there is a piece of music for every life experience under the stars!

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Jason still has his own fiery and violent guitar-playing style that he mixes warmly with melodic, ambient melodies and tones.  Chicky grew up being formally trained as a classical musician and has toured all over North America and parts of Europe with an Asian cover band.   Together, they have achieved a sound like no other, applying all their very different  influences and inspirations to lovingly complement each other. ‘Why So Serious’ is a perfect example of their musical diversity and funky experimentation and has an incredibly addictive bassline.

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La Fin Absolute du Monde informed me that their aim is to utilize dark, lovely and ambient timbres and ignore conventional structures and boundaries to provide an intense and adventureful musical-listening experience.  Here are two people who come from entirely different worlds, both enamored by smart people who love smart music. Their Soundcloud profile is an exhibition of incredible sounds including ‘She’s Got To Be A Pirate’ and I recommend a listen of their Soundcloud profile for those of you who dare to listen and think outside of the box!

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La Fin Absolute du Monde have an EP ‘Au Revoir’ which they released in March and can be found on http://www.stereokiller.com/lafinabsolutedumonde They inform me they are currently in negotiation with a record label in the UK and Buzzin Media wish them every success. 

La Fin Absolute du Monde on Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/la-fin-absolute-du-monde

Buzzin Media on Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/buzzin-media

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Woods UK dates and live on 6Music’s Marc Riley Show

Woods
Woods

Over the past few years Woods have established themselves as an anomaly in a world of freaks. They were an odd proposition even in the outré company of vocalist/ guitarist/ label owner Jeremy Earl’s Woodsist roster, perpetually out of time, committed to songsmanship in an age of noise, drone and improvisation, to extended soloing, oblique instrumentals and the usurping use of tapes and F/X in an age of dead-end singer- songwriters.

Recent live shows have seen them best confuse the two, playing beautifully-constructed songs torn apart by fuzztone jams and odd electronics. At Echo Lake released last year (woodsist) feels like a diamond-sharp distillation of the turbulent power from their live shows, in much the same way that The Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star” single amplified and engulfed the planetary aspect of their improvised takes.

Woods will be in the UK to perform three gigs next week and the band will also be performing live on 6Music’s Marc Riley Show on March 15th from 7pm.

They will also contribute to Tom Ravenscroft’s show on 6Music tonight (March 11th) in the form of a guest mix, the show is broadcast from 9pm.

Woods latest album At Echo Lake is available now and has garnered the following tributes upon it’s release:

“If records can be classified into ‘urban’ (not in the R & B sense) and ‘rural’, then At Echo Lake is surely from the countryside,” Drowned in Sound

“Woods make a brand of new folk that’s blissfully whimsical, happily nostalgic and, most importantly, classically and simply melodic..” Loud & Quiet

“An album that exposes itself to the forces of the great outdoors” Uncut

Here is a sample from the album At Echo Lake, the track is Suffering Season:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-TT1kdzLNI

UK Live Dates:

14-Mar UK Birmingham Hare & Hounds
15-Mar UK Manchester The Deaf Institute
16-Mar UK London Bush Hall

The band will return in September for the End of the Road Festival.

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Dyonisis – New Album ‘Intoxicated’ released today

Dyonisis - Intoxicated
Dyonisis - Intoxicated

It was back in 2007 when the Sheffield based quartet Dyonisis released their debut self titled album to some acclaim and the band have since been thrilling audiences around the country with their own special brand of intoxicating, broody and haunting style of music.

Combining elements of rock and trip-hop with an overriding folk theme and fusing them into hypnotic and haunting soundscapes, Dyonisis create a unique and ambient sound featuring the outstanding vocal harmonies of singers Nel and Lou.

On the new album, Intoxicated, the intense personal lyrical content is drowned in stunning, at times haunting melodies and harmonies creating an endless yet fulfilling journey of luscious ambiance and dramatic landscapes.

A definite for fans of Enya, circa the excellent track Only Time as there is much on this album that brings that track to mind, that said this album is no retrospective effort and the band’s sights are always firmly fixed in the present in what is an excellent collection of songs delivered in their own unique style.

Here is a clip of Dyonisis performing an excellent acoustic version the track Inside Out from the album Intoxicated.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgEtMuGo6Ic

Intoxicated is the new album from Dyonisis and is available on Singed Records now.