Bill Nelson: Joy Through Amplification

Celebrating the ‘ultra-fuzzy world’ of the Stratocaster.

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Bill Nelson has remained a constant as a recording artist for over 40 years without being swallowed up by superstardom. His artistic curiosity has been duly preserved and Joy Through Amplification is testimony to his undimmed, inquisitive spirit.

It’s essentially two albums in tandem. Songs like Sex Magic and Vortexion Dream, although drenched in fretboard electricity, see Nelson fall back on relatively conventional pop-rock structures (Fire Gods Of The National Machine threatens to mutate into Ziggy-period Bowie at any moment).

However, the sheer, unassuming brilliance of his guitar work is always the cream on these confections. In between songs are instrumental ‘palette cleansers’; lovely, ambient, processed analogue pieces with a glassy beauty that recalls Robert Fripp at his best, among others.

Closer Monsters From Heaven synthesises these dual approaches, a looped, percussionless, robo-excursion into Beefheart swamp terrain.

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.