Out of all the solo material that Bill Nelson has recorded, his '80s material is the most erratic and incongruous. Despite his glory days with Be Bop Deluxe, he has been rather inconsistent on his own, as his work has included some wildly experimental guitar work and some extremely trite, almost absurd recordings. Performed and recorded at the Echo Observatory in Yorkshire, England, Chance Encounters in the Garden of Lights falls under the latter, erected as a two-CD set of lifeless, sometimes monotonous guitar avant-gardism. The disc features 63 tracks (22 of them bonus tracks), none of them varying effectually in rhythm, melody, or pitch, making for a somewhat lackluster new age expedition. Nelson's guitar craft fails to show itself, with stagnant runs of notes sometimes hovering for lengthy periods of time, void of any spaciousness or depth. Even though Nelson fashioned the album as a musical conception of meditation and reflection, the result is too trance-like, absorbed in metaphysical cloudiness without any flair or signature of his guitar virtuosity. Self-indulgent pieces such as "Pilots of Kite," "The Four Square Citadel," and "Transcendant" are numbing to say the least, and although most of the tracks invoke serenity, his quest for the ultimate peaceful atmosphere drowns in an overabundance of monotonous ambling. Chance Encounters in no way reflects Nelson's ability or prowess as a musician, as he proved his astuteness hadn't deserted him completely with 1996's After the Satellite Sings, recovering greatly from this album's mishaps.
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