Paul Nelson: Vortex (Medical Records)

paul nelson

Okay, so where has this record been hiding? Paul Nelson was a young man of musical ambition, a nerd-like love for computers, and, apparently, Tangerine Dream and other prog-rock records. He recorded this, his lone album, and it’s a shame he didn’t make more. First things first: skip over the first song, “Automated Man,” as it’s terribly, terribly dated–loaded with cheesy effects and vocoder, it’s the sort of song you’d hear as credit music on a bad sci-fi film. While “Automated Man” rightly deserves the snide commentary of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew, the rest of the album doesn’t, because it’s an amazing sonic journey, and fine, futuristic sounding space rock. The rest of the album is taken up by the title track, which is broken into five parts, as well as “Labyrinth,” which falls in between part two and three, though it sonically continues the theme between the two. The resulting half-hour of music is beautiful, instrumental rock that splits the difference between the neoclassical leanings of progressive musicians of the 1970s, and the futuristic rhythms of bands like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream’s soundtrack work. The record was self-released at the time, and fetches a pretty penny; this reissue, though limited in nature, brings the record back from the dustbin. Go for it–you’ll be glad you did!

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