Bill Nelson: The Love That Whirls [Diary Of A Thinking Heart] UK CD 
- Empire Of The Senses
- Hope For The Heartbeat (Remix)
- Waiting For Voices
- A Private View
- Eros Arriving
- The Bride Of Christ In Autumn
- He And Sleep Were Brothers
- When Your Dream Of Perfect Beauty Comes True
- Flaming Desire
- Portrait Of Jan With Flowers
- The Crystal Escalator In The Palace Of God Department Store
- Echo In Her Eyes
- The October Man
favorite albums of all time: Bill Nelson’s second major label solo album from 1982, “The Love That Whirls [Diary Of A Thinking Heart].” It was some time in 1982 that I dove into the Bill Nelson pool with “Permanent Flame” and liked what I’d heard enough to begin collecting Nelson in earnest. The US PVC 2xLP bundled with “La Belle Et La Bête” soundtrack was int he bins then and was my first copy of the album. In 1986, I upgraded to the Bill Nelson produced CD on his own Cocteau records label.
This was a solo album in the almost literal sense of the word with Nelson playing all instruments with the exception of the vibraslap on “Empire Of The Senses” [his then-wife, Jan Nelson], and Bogdan [Fingerprintz] Wiiczling with drums on “The October Man.” The album began with what is possibly my favorite Nelson song of them all. The stuttering, drum machine intro was slathered with reverb as the cascading synths of the song and the first of many xlylophone solos swirled in eddies and currents of sound rushing forward as the upbeat, philosophical lyrics aligned to produce euphoria. The title was surely cribbed from Oshima’s “In The Realm Of the Senses,” with its French title being exactly “Empire Of The Senses.” I’m betting that Nelson more easily saw this still scandalous film in accessible France. The soaring melody that Nelson sings wordlessly is beautiful beyond words.
Beyond Oshima, the further influence of Japanese culture strongly comes home to roost on this album as its sound was most probably influenced by the music of YMO and its constituent members; then in the process of reaching the west. “Hope For The Heartbeat” appeared here in a remix that replaced the original LP mix of 1982. [memo to self – re-buy this LP the next time I see it] It’s another delight of clockwork rhythm machines and heavily effected lead guitar from Nelson, who was going through a phase of studiously rejecting his “own best clichés” as a former guitar hero turned art-rocker. The percussive white noise pads create a palpable contrast of textures next to Nelson’s e-bow guitar.
In 1982, Nelson had only just started his Cocteau Records label, and this was one of his big budget major label albums, so the complexion of this album was to mix song-focused material like “Empire Of the Senses” with ambient forms that were interspersed like haikus among the beefier pop songs on offer here. Almost half of the original LP songs here were of this concise [1-2 minute] nature. “Waiting For Voices” was such a brief shimmering sketch of swelling synths. It made a perfect introduction to the exquisite languor of “A Private View.”
The lead on the latter was another gorgeous Nelson e-bow guitar line snaking through this one like a Japanese dragon as the methodical and immaculate rhythms percolated throughout the song. Nelson’s captivating vocals were perfectly enunciated for maximum impact as he divulged the lyrics throughout. This was definitely a swoon-worthy moment.
The single “Eros Arriving” was another dive into Japanese melodic structure with acoustic rhythm guitars backing up the lead synths and guitars. Given that this was recorded between April and November of 1981, I’m tempted to think that the mixture of acoustic guitars and synths might have been influenced by Pete Shelley’s “Homosapien,” but as that single was released in September of that year, it wouldn’t have left much time for Nelson to have picked up the notion and run with it. At the end of the day the big influence here was still YMO. That’s not to say that Nelson couldn’t hear a song one week and record a song inspired by it within a day or two! The man is known to lay down songs like John Henry laying track.
“Bride Of Christ In Autumn” was a shimmering instrumental of English psychedelia featuring backward tapes of percussion with acoustic guitars and summery piano. In future years, Nelson would segregate different vibes and genres in to whole albums [and boxed sets] but here the juxtaposition of the pop and ambient sides of the album make for a rewarding listen that keeps the listener well engaged. Then the 1986 CD of this title had two non-LP B-sides appended to the running order before concluding the album. This was a gambit from the early days of the CD when some thought that the integrity of sides beginning and finishing a CD had some clout, so bonus materials sometimes arrived in the middle instead of the end.
Next: …B-Side Babies