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 Ltd, The Darkness, Foo Fighters et al.
This boxed set “Trial By Intimacy – The Book Splendours” preceded ambient electronica by a a good decade and has just been re-released, having been out of print for many years on Bill’s DIY Cocteau Records label. The box comprises recordings made by Nelson at his “Echo Observatory” home studio. Comprising some eighty pieces of music, the set is a fine example of Bill Nelson’s grasp of ambient music.
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 !
“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, plastic woodwind instruments, 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. Bill Nelson is a Yorkshireman – to misquote the bread advert, “Trial By Intimacy” is an album “with nowt taken out”.
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. So what are the transferable lessons for the business world here?
- Sometimes your first idea is the best one – on occasion it’s best to go with your basic instinct.
- Don’t be afraid of childlike approaches to creativity and innovation. If it feels good, try it.
- Spot what’s obvious and dare to be different.
We’ll be doing some live improvisation with electronica on Tuesday 13 November at the University of Bedfordshire in our business event for the Chartered Management Institute of The Open University – Riffs and Myths of Leadership – some spaces available for booking now.
We will be talking about the event on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on Monday 22 October at 7.20 pm. Listen again via The BBC.
p.s. It seems that Lady Gaga‘s World Tour support act Lady Starlight has been using Bill’s music as part of her performance art act. I’m on the case to get Bill connected. Watch this space. Sometimes strange and wonderful things can happen once I get started on a mission … Be careful, I’m an axe victim …
About the Blogger: Peter Cook leads The Academy of Rock – Keynote events with a difference and Human Dynamics – Business and organisation development, training and coaching. Contact via firstname.lastname@example.org