Wednesday, August 1, 2018

"Dreamland Avenue" by Bill Nelson


Back in the early 1980's, when I first discovered Bill Nelson's early solo albums, I thought he was the epitome of a future-thinking artist:  he broke up his famous 70s rock band because he didn't want to be a human jukebox, went New Wave, and then went completely indie and released album after album of instrumental and home-spun recordings.  Along the way he got jaded by the industry through bad contracts and lawsuits.

Sadly, Nelson never graduated to the internet era, and has purposefully kept what seems like 98% of his controllable recordings, a huge number - the guy seems to come out with a new solo album every couple of months - off the streamers.  He'd rather release limited edition CDs from England.  While it's perfectly within his rights to do such a thing, I find it to be a goddamned shame.  Nelson's completely missing out on the rest of the world.

You look at somebody like Harold Budd, who is friends with Nelson, and yet Budd has most of his recorded oeuvre on Spotify and everywhere else.  Somehow, Budd's music has seeped into various playlists, found a new audience, and he has a ton of tracks with more than a million streams, and quite a few above 10 million.  I'm sure his royalty checks today are a dream he couldn't have imagined back in the 1980s.

I really think the same thing could have happened to Bill Nelson.  "Chance Encounters in the Garden of Lights" should have zillions of plays.  It's not even available.

But "Noise Candy" is available - a boxed set of home-made albums released in 2002 - and the only "modern" Bill Nelson recordings on the streamers after the early 80s - a micro-fraction of what he's produced and released since then.  Noise Candy is not for the uninitiated, but individual tracks can be, like Dreamland Avenue. 

If there are guitars here, they're well-disguised as synths.  The singing is almost quiet talking.  But the whole thing has a lovely psychedelic and jazzy feel.  There should be an audience for this kind of music, but sometimes the artist makes it so difficult for themselves.