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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson’s Orchestra Arcana – Optimism

Review by Gary Hill

I like pretty much everything I’ve ever heard from Bill Nelson. This album lands in the electronic spectrum. It’s along the lines of Frippertronics in a lot of was, perhaps with some Kraftwerk in the mix. Perhaps it’s not the best fit under progressive rock, but I’d say it is a fit of some kind. There is some cool stuff here no matter how you label it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Exactly the Way You Want It

Electronic music, world sounds and more are heard on this. It reminds me quite a bit of something Robert Fripp might have done with Frippertronics.

Why Be Lonely
Although the same mix of sounds is present here, the percussion feels a lot more prominent. This is a much shorter cut.
Everyday Is a Better Day
Jazz, electronics and some 80s music seem to merge here. This has energy and is almost what you might call “catchy.”
The Receiver and the Fountain Pen
More electronic goodies, this might not be a lot different, but it’s tasty.
Welcome Home, Mister Kane
There is a real groove to this piece. That and the fact that’s it’s quite catchy makes this one of the standouts, really.
This Is True
More of a percussive cut, this is another tasty piece of electronic sound.
Greeting a New Day
There is definitely some funk in this number. It’s like a funk meets Kraftwerk and King Crimson kind of vibe. It’s also one of my favorites.
The Breath in My Father's Saxophone

Jazz and pop music seem to merge here. This loses most of the electronic edge. I love the bass line on this thing.

Our Lady of Apparitions
Echoey space music brings this in with some great textures. This is understated, but every trippy.
The Whole City Between Us
Here we are brought back into the more electronic territory. This is a catchy kind of groove, really. It has some cool melodies.
Deva Dance
Based on percussive elements, electronics and world music, this is a short piece. It’s also effective.
Always Looking Forward to Tomorrow
Built on more of a rocking electronic groove, this feels like Kraftwerk meets Parliament and Frippertronics.
World Thru Fast Car Window
To me this little number feels a lot like something that might have made it onto a 1980s movie soundtrack. It’s electronic, bouncy and a fun groove.
Profiles, Hearts, Stars
With something that sounds a lot like throat singing (in fact, it might be samples of throat singing), this piece is weird. It includes a distorted prayer, electronics and a lot more. It’s the most avante garde number here in many ways. It’s not my favorite, but it works fairly well.
Daughter of Dream Come True
Asian sounds and more are featured on this short electronic styled piece.
Electronics, world music and much more merge here. This has some particularly lush moments, but also some really odd ones. There are sections that make me think of Art of Noise.
Um, Ah Good Evening

I dig the tuned percussion type sounds on this thing. It’s another dramatic bit of artsy weirdness. It’s tasty, too.

Kut Up in Cartoonsville
I love the cartoon bits that are heard here. Beyond that, this is more electronic exploration. That all serves as the clever and tasty icing on the cake.
Short Wave
This has a lot of jazz elements at play. It’s one of the tastier pieces here in a lot of ways.
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