Orchestra Arcana

The Hermetic Jukebox

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In the mid '80s, Nelson's record contract stipulated that he couldn't release any experimental work under his own name -- possibly in fear that it would dilute the market for his more commercial work. And so he created Orchestra Arcana, which lasted for an EP and two albums. Those two albums, Iconography and Optimism, have been reissued under the Hermetic Jukebox title, a double-CD set. To be truthful, they haven't aged that well. Created before the age of digital sampling, they use found sounds, tape manipulation, and other effects, along with plenty of what can only be called instrumental noodling. While adventurous for the time, that time has long since passed. They have the sense of experiments, which is exactly what they were, but experiments without a great deal of focus, just for their own sake. The main thing missing is melody, really, which was always one of Nelson's strong suits. Still, as notebooks and diaries these have their place. However, whether any but Nelson completists really care is another question altogether.

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