Bill Nelson (1948) is a British guitarist, songwriter, experimental musician, producer and painter. His career started in 1971 and through the decades he was involved in several musical projects. He was a member of Be-Bop Deluxe, Red Noise and founding member of Fiat Lux; he worked together with Gary Numan, David Sylvian and Robert Fripp. However, he's probably best known for his experimental, ambient instrumentals. Between the late seventies and the early eighties, Nelson produced a tsunami of albums on his own Cocteau label, consisting of instrumental synthesizer and keyboard pieces.
Near the end of the eighties, he suffered a series of personal misfortunes including a divorce, tax problems and a dispute with his manager about the rights of his back catalogue. In the case of one album, the previously unreleased Simplex, Nelson discovered that his manager had been selling copies without his permission or knowledge. The musician even claimed that he never received any royalties for these sales. By 1996, Nelson's troubles with his former manager led to a lawsuit which enabled him to recover much of his back catalogue. A fully authorized version of Simplex was released in 2000 and remastered in 2012 by Esoteric Recordings.
The music on this album was used for the film 'Henry Moore and landscapes', a documentary directed by Murray Grigor. In addition, Nelson added complimentary recordings made at his Echo Observatory studio in 1987 and 1988 to complete the album. Simplex was once described by Nelson as 'one of my favourite albums, a collection of miniatures and a box of sonic jewellery.' I fully agree with him. The past weeks I listened to Simplex a lot and I really like the calm sequences and silent minor themes that are interwoven, meandering like a calm river of guitars and keyboards. Don't expect plain songs, these pieces are just prior to songs... just brief sketches and short themes that will calm and comfort the listener. Simplex is a fine way to get back in touch with Nelson's impressive back catalogue!
*** Gert Bruins (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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