What does it sound like?:
The latest in Bill Nelson’s reissue campaign for work originally released on his Cocteau Recoreds imprint, on Esoteric through Cherry Red. A 3 disc set comprising 3 separate projects, they reflect the instrumental work Bill was moving towards in the early 1980’s. All recorded at the grandly named Echo Observatory, which in reality was the back bedroom at Bill’s home.
Disc 1: Sounding The Ritual Echo (Atmospheres For Dreaming), originally released as a companion to Bill’s first solo album, Quit Dreaming And Get On The Beam. A set of short instrumentals, it suffers from the obvious lack of a recording budget which hamstrung Bill’s work around that time, particularly in the use of a fairly basic, tinny drum machine. Nontheless, still a set of interesting tunes of the type that became the mainstay of Bill’s (almost entirely instrumental) output from the time he finished his contract with Phonogram in the mid 80’s and became a one man cottage industry.
Disc 2: Das Kabinet (originally released in 1981). This was a soundtrack commissioned by the Yorkshire Actors Company for a stage adaptation of the classic silent film ‘The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari’. A dark, brooding and highly atmospheric piece, reflecting the nightmarish content of the play. Not exactly easy listening, but gives a sense of the piece for those who never had the chance to see the production.
Disc 3: La Belle Et La Bete (originally released in 1982). This appeared as a companion with Bill’s album ‘The Love That Whirls’, and was another Yorkshire Actor’s Company production, this time a stage version of Jean Cocteau’s surrealistic masterpiece film from 1946. Again a little difficult to place in context without having seen the stage production for which it was written. A much softer, more impressionistic record than Das Kabinet, it still conveys beautifully the atmosphere of the piece, including natural sounds to a greater extent than Bill has used before or since. It also works when used simply as an ambient, background piece, and it was great to hear it again 30-odd years after the original vinyl last hit my turntable.
What does it all *mean*?
Certainly would mean more when heard in the original context, but a vital part in Bill establishing himself as a one man cottage industry, self-recording and releasing well over 100 albums over the last 35 years.
Goes well with…
Might suit people who like…
Well crafted, interesting instrumental pieces. Goes well with a touch of Eno and the like.