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Bill Nelson

Chance Encounters in the Garden of Lights

Review by Gary Hill

One always expects something special when you play an album from Bill Nelson. This double CD set is no exception there. It's instrumental (although there are some non-lyrical sung voices and spoken soundbites). This is made up of two CDs each containing an album and extra songs (or as in the case of the second disc an EP). This is the kind of thing that makes me regret setting up MSJ album reviews as track by track ones because there are 60 tracks here between the two CDs. Intriguingly enough, while it's all electronic and rather subdued, it doesn't really feel repetitive. All in all, this is a cool set.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One: The Angel at the Western Window
    
West Deep

This instrumental is composed of trippy atmospherics. It's less than a minute and a half long.

The Spirit Cannot Fail
A sound bite of the title (with the word "you" at the end of it) is heard at the beginning. The piece works forward with some cool atmospheric mellow prog elements. There are other spoken vocal bits and some sampled sung voices as instrumentation.
Pilots of Kite
This is a pretty and rather short atmospheric instrumental.
Seventh Circle
I really like the cool instrumental modes on this. At times I'm reminded of things like Tangerine Dreams, but the mellow side of Pink Floyd is a valid reference, too.
Phantom Gardens
I love the cool keyboard sounds that seem to circle the piece. The whole thing is pretty trippy in an odd sort of way.
The Angel of Hearth and Home
There is almost an ominous kind of sound to this piece. Yet there is also a real beauty.
Villefranche Interior
A pretty atmosphere makes up this cut.
Night Tides
More intriguing mellow instrumental work is on the ticket here. There really is a sound like tides here, along with chiming bells.
First Memory
I like the energy and general vibe of this a lot.
Azure Extension
Slow and rather trippy, this has some great textures.
Radiant Spires
This comes closer to a rock kind of song than the majority of music here does. It has some cool elements at play.
The Evening Peal
This does feel very much like a bell in a lot of ways.         
Threnodia
Echoey and rather classical in nature, this is more cool instrumental work.
A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain
I really love the atmospherics and perceived motion in this cut.
Body of Light
There is sort of an encircling kind of element here.
At the Center
I love the trippy nature of this ethereal piece.
Self-Initiation
This has a great electronic vibe, too. While it's not a big change from the last one, it is distinct.
The Word That Became Flesh
A spoken clip is included on this cut. There is an echoey kind of movement built into the track. It turns a bit dark later.
The Hermetic Garden
Echoey and textural, there is a gentle beauty to this piece.
Revolving Globes
There is an almost Asian sort of vibe to this piece.
The Four Square Citadel
A bit more like a rock song, there is a bouncing kind of vibe to this.
Little Daughters of Light
Definitely built around echoey waves of sound, this is textural.
Orient of Memphis
A mellow cut, this has an almost a tuned percussion feeling to it in some ways.
The Angel at the Western Window
I dig the trippy, and rather methodical, approach to this atmospheric piece.
Additional Tracks Not on Album or Cassette Release:
     
The Piano Room

Appropriately this is built around piano. There is a cool groove to the cut that brings an almost jazzy vibe to it.

Rain Dance
There is a feeling of a rainforest to this cut. It has a cool movement at first, the dance part. The it gets more textural as the rain falls.   
Aching Heart
A very classical kind of vibe is heard on this piece. A weird science fiction kind of vibe moves it onward after a while.
Arising
Trippy, echoey sounds are on display here.
Welcome to Realm Seven
Another trippy atmospheric cut, this works well.
Without a Blue Horizon
Echoey and textural, there is a dream-like element here.
Female Nebula
I love the textural trippy space elements at play here.
Demon Raising
There is a lot more of an energy and almost rocking element here. There are hints of Asian melodies at play, too.
Burning the Grove of Satyrs
This is very percussive in nature. In fact, a big part of it is strictly percussion.
The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of
More trippy and atmospheric, there are classical elements at play here along with things that feel like tuned percussion.
Realm of Archons

Speaking of tuned percussion, there is a lot of that element here along with sound-effects and weird atmospherics. This feels like it would fit in the soundtrack to a science fiction film.

The Rossetti Effect
More trippy atmospherics drive this piece.
Infinite Station
With a lot of percussion, this has a solid energy and drive to it.
Piano Angelica
While there is a lot of piano at the heart of this, other elements bring more of a weird sound element to the cut.
Disc Two: The Book of Inward Conversation
 
My Dark Daemon
Trippy elements combined with a real percussive driving texture create the sounds here. There is a dark and rather creepy element here, particularly when it drops down later.
The Dove Consumed (The Serpent Slumbers)
Another that's dark, this doesn't have the persistent percussive element of the previous piece.
Calling Heaven, Calling Heaven, Over
A much lighter spirited piece, there is an angelic vibe here. It has a good electronic energy built into it, too. This is a longer piece for this set, coming it at over three and a half minutes. The time is well used to create one of the most dynamic cuts here. It has some spoken sound bits in the mix and some nice changes of mood and concepts.
Path of Return
A cut that feels like it lives in waves of sound, this is cool. It has some melodic modes amongst the atmospherics.
Theurgia
Just over a minute in length, this makes me think of a cross between Tangerine Dream and Mike Oldfield. It's trippy electronic music.
Staircase to No Place
This one is less than a minute long. It has some non-lyrical vocals that are rather operatic. It is almost playful, but also quite classical in nature.
Evocation of a Radiant Childhood
Close to six minutes long, this qualifies as an epic on this release. It starts quite trippy and grows outward from there. There are more of those voices on this piece, too. It turns toward noisy effects driven stuff near the half-way mark. It grows outward from there, eventually turning more musical. An almost tribal percussive element emerges as it continues to evolve. A mellower, electronic meets world music vibe eventually takes over to work it to its closing.
The Kingdom of Consequence
Coming in trippy and quite cool, this is shorter and a bit less serious than the previous piece. It creates almost a grounding element.
The Divine Raptures of Sisterhood
Roughly a minute and a half in length, angelic musical elements and soaring non-lyrical female voices combine to good effect.
Bright Star (Moonlight over Ocean Blue)
This is just about a minute in length and similar in tone to the previous piece, but doesn't feel like an extension of it at all.
A Bird of the Air Shall Carry Thy Voice
Coming in with an almost fusion like electronic vibe, this grows outward from there. It shifts through a number of variants as it continues forward. At almost three and a half minutes long, this one of the more extensive pieces here. While perhaps obvious, I like the birds on this song.
Clothed in Light Amongst the Stars
Coming in with another trippy element, this rises up gradually from there. There are things here that feel as if they are backwards tracked. While this is longer than the previous piece, it's less dynamic. Still, the general vibe is strong enough to hold up for the duration.
Gnosis
Moody electronic elements make up the early parts of this, but it stretches toward the stars in the middle before dropping down to gentle textures to end.
Bringers of Light to the Feast
I like the gentle, almost childlike feel of the opening here. There is a certain majesty to this and a bit of an Asian vibe. It's roughly a minute in length.
Hastening the Chariot of My Heart's Desire
More than three times the length of the previous piece, this comes in mellow and tentative, but a percussive element joins fairly soon. The space sounds continue to rise from there in a rather soundtrack like way.
Transcendent
This has a real textural vibe to a lot of it. It eventually grows into a more noisy kind of thing that has an almost cacophonous melody. It resolves to mellower atmosphere later in the piece.
Consolamentum
This piece is quite mellow and atmospheric. It's also pretty and rather dream-like.
Ecclesia Gnostica
         
(Music for the Interior Church)
   
Set Me as a Seal Upon Thine Heart

More melodic than some of the others here, this has a dream-like quality to the keyboard voices. It's slow moving and effective.

Mysterium
Much more textural, this is pretty.
Katharos
Feeling almost like a continuation of the previous piece, this works well, too.
Day of Eternity
Another that has a lot more atmospheric texture, this is slow moving and pretty.
Evening Adoration
While not a big change, there is a bit more of a song-like feeling to this one in some ways.
Ecclesia Gnostica
Slow, textural waves of sound create this piece.
Young Angels by an Ancient River
This is set in similar tones as the last cut.
Finis Gloria Mundi
In some ways the tones here aren't that different, particularly at the start. That said, it rises up to something that has an almost symphonic classical vibe as it continues. This piece is three minutes in length and one of the more dynamic ones here. It really does reach for greatness.
 
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