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Bill Nelson: Joy Through Amplification

Be Bop Deluxer’s latest set – a joy indeed.

Subtitled The Ultra-Fuzzy World Of Priapus Stratocaster, the latest release from the Be Bop Deluxe/Red Noise founder is a 26-track collection with short ambient guitar pieces interpolating the songs proper. Ampex 1 to 13 are thrilling in their own right. Nelson’s unerring ear for guitar tone and texture comes into its own. A Fripp comparison’s flippant, but gives a taste of these ‘sonic sorbets’: sustained, echoing lines that reverse and rumble, feedback and sparkle and charm with melody.

All good experimental stuff, but the real meat here’s in the songs. Few people marry leftfield pop, punk and art-rock like Nelson has in the past 40 years. He’s 63 now, but is clearly still hungry, and with plenty of ideas in his locker.

At its peaks Joy Through Amplification could be Peter Hammill fronting The Fall. Sex Magic, Vortexion Dream and The Conjurer’s Companion are clever, oblique rock songs with off-kilter riffs, unusual and unsettling tonalities. Imps In The Undergrowth is infectious, Arc Volta urgent.

Like the album as a whole, To What Strange Place Will This Transport You and Orpheus Dreams Of Disneyland are surreal, imaginative and wonderfully off-beam.