126CD - Nick Robinson - Lost Garden - CD plus downloadTweet
Nick is a guitarist with a long history, most of it not troubling the charts. From the youthful pop of Polydor’s “Typhoon Saturday” through the anarchy of Dig Vis Drill, as well as working with the Comsat Angels, Neil Ardley, Bernhard Wagner, Combat Astronomy, Julie Tippets, Carla Diratz and Neil Ardley.and many, many more. He has developed an individual musical voice based around the looping and processing of a guitar.
The music evokes many different moods and is both beautiful and challenging in equal measures, like theme music for films that have never been made. Every sound you hear is created by the guitar, other than a live loop of the bells of Cologne (if you listen carefully) recorded in the field.
Some tracks incorporate elements of live improvisations, augmented by studio overdubs, others were composed in the studio. Whilst you may hear influences, Nick’s performances are very much his own vision. He feels that at long last, he has found his voice.
Nick is also one third of fellow Discus Music outfit “Das Rad” (along with Martin Archer and Steve Dinsdale) and in his day job, an origami artist with over 100 books to his name. He has taught and lectured all around the globe. He is president of the British Origami Society! He feels there are many parallels between music and paper-folding and will explain this at length if asked.
Nick Robinson - guitars, loops, electronics
Steve Hackett (Genesis)
Interesting with some excellent playing and innovative atmosphere. I wish you luck with the project.
Adrian Belew (King Crimson)
I liked it very much. All the best in this crazy world we now have...
Paul McMahon (Haze)
By turns Ambient, Aggressive, Ethereal, Discordant, Thoughtful and Melodic, it's stunning that all of this music was made on the guitar. A fabulous piece of work!
Michael Peters (looping guitarist)
I like it, great guitar textures, a healthy dose of chaos and of course, lyrical passages...
Zal Cleminson (SAHB)
Beautifully atmospheric and creative guitar work.
Bernhard Wagner (Sonar / David Torn )
Tasteful superimposition of down-to-earth electric guitar sounds and noises with otherworldly swirls and shrieks evoking birdlike creatures from aeons gone or lightyears ahead. All this embedded into reverberating spaces of varying sizes, often within the same track. Like a good book, only multiple listens will even start to reveal what has been put into this deep album.
This is stunning, I love the twisted nature of the album and yet everything seems so considered, the format has been distorted and the guitar takes more the form of a spectre to translate an otherworldly sound. The use of pedals / effects is really tasteful, never choosing to get away with anything, it has rough edges and leaves a lot of room which gives the music so much life.
Bill Walker (US slide/looper)
I’ve been listening for a few weeks now, and I am struck by the sonic and emotional range this music conveys. So many wonderful guitar based sounds and creative use of loops and noise elements can be found in this 11 song collection. These are beautifully improvised guitar inventions that balance lyrical passages with ambient elements and adventurous sound design.
Dave Sturt (Gong / Bill Nelson)
Inspired; uncompromising; challenging; beautifully intense … There are shades of Nelson, Torn, Belew, Frisell even Oldfield- but it’s still 100% Robinson. His experimental use of effects and sonic explorations are intriguing and lead to some unexpected and beautiful soundscapes. I can see this album being a source of inspiration for quite a while.
Sonja Kristina (Curved Air)
A haunting immersive experience. All shades of guitar sonics - meandering stretched sustained single notes, handfuls of startling metallic discordance fading away to the last vibration of a tone Ghostly fleeting poignant melodies... always surprising - relaxing, transportive, never boring....
In 1990 Nick Robinson played guitar for a late version of The Comsat Angels. What’s that got to do with this album? Not a lot but, gee, anyone who played in that band should have it noted. More recently he ‘did’ guitar on a Carla Diratz & The Archers of Sorrow milestone, The Scale - another one of those Discus specials. The Robinson Fenders produced an environmental-friendly dangerous paint stripped, caustic yet good for your health. On this solo outing, the guitar is in its own Lost Garden, Robinson using horticulture over a varied topography of guitarscape. I’m not going through the titles as individual tracks… in a Lost Garden you hear it, experience it, lose yourself in it; wandering punch-drunk so flower borders take on a walk deviating through psychedelia to touch-up drones, electric finger picking to ambient feedback. Mr Nick calls it ‘mangled’, if so it’s like ringing-out dirty water from old rag and finding the result is a clear fresh stream of minerals. If this review reads as if I’ve been on stimulants I promise you, they’re not my cup of tea, this is purely the heavy intoxication seeping off a solo guitar project played at only a moderately loud volume. The clarity of this music is not in its decibels but in the juxtaposition of profound technique, pick-up control plus a sonic sense of looped electronics. It’s much more sophisticated than Teen Spirit yet at the same time retains all the edge of brutal concrete constructivism. The fact is the guitar is a difficult instrument these days. Every other school kid for the last sixty years has fancied their chances on the instrument. Guitar players are on the rack. Whatever they come up with, someone else has done it before. Nick Robinson is aware of the problem, he gets around it by simply (sic) being original, following his own mindset and putting the past into his private mangle and the present straight through his fingers. Join him. - Steve Day
One man, a guitar, some looping devices, and various sundry effects. Oh, if life were indeed that simple. But erstwhile guitarist Robinson prefers to shake things up considerably, and such a seemingly basic instrumental set-up belies a fiendishly clever mind at work. Solo guitar recordings surely aren’t endangered species, but it’s always depended on who is in fact wielding the implement, and held in Robinson’s calloused appendages, one can rest assured they’re in good hands indeed. Influences are legion across the breadth of this recording, but suffice to say the guitarist suspends the listener’s disbelief across a literally breathless variety of moods and (mal)content. It’s hardly surprising that labelhead Martin Archer has decided to offer this dazzling work under his Discus Improg sub-imprint, Robinson obliterating all genres to the four corners like ashes in the brittle air, texturalizing and retexturalizing until anything remotely categorizable is rendered moot. We get glimpses: the opening eight minutes of “Hushful Point” alternately sting like some of Andy Summers’s more coruscating leylines, the coarse granular aesthetics of Elliott Sharp, the strangely spacey broadstrokes of David Torn, and, in the piece’s closing minute, Buckethead’s farflung out-reach. That multi-headed approach goes right out the window on the following “Cautious Tragic”, where Robinson waxes some nostalgic patterning of piquant beauty, backwards-masked and wondrously poised, his fingers interlocking in a minor/major-key dichotomy that positively electrifies the surrounding air like a gathering thunderstorm. Then a track such as “Trip-O-Phonix” reminds us how integral he is to proto-avant-prog trio Das Rad; across electronically-smeared arpeggios, pixie-like abnormalities, and a gaggle of weird motifs that dart across the loudspeaker fabric, it’s obvious that to this man, the guitar is merely the channel through which his muse dances and gyrates, spinning out a widening sonic choreography of ever-surprising proportions. Epic, to be sure. - Darren Bergstein, Downtown Music Gallery NYC
Robinson is, of course, guitarist with Das Rad and their blend of avant-rock permeates the mood on this set. In isolation, Robinson layers his guitar sounds in ways that feel carefully and artfully organised and also freely spontaneous and unstructured. There is a richness in the crafting of the layers of sounds which is satisfying and also bursts of noise which startle and shock (and you get the impression that the startle and shock is not only felt by the listener but also Robinson – in a sort of ‘where did that come from?’ response to the some of the developments in the playing). I laughed out loud at his dedication, on the sleeve, to ‘the woman who approached me during a solo gig and politely asked me to turn down because she was trying to have a conversation’. While he modestly suggests in the liner notes that ‘everything you hear came from a guitar, suitably mangled’, this misses the care with which the tunes have been created and mixed. The mood of much of the set is one of calm deliberation (with the title ‘Acrostic’ being quite an apt metaphor, perhaps, for his method) but he is not averse to rocking out (particularly on the opening track). The gentle, melancholy of ‘Toccata Apologetica’, as its name implies, nicely capture’s his technique across several musical genres and using different guitar styles. Either side of this piece are ‘Cautious Tragic’ and ‘Three Vices’ in which the sounds generated by the guitar serve as input to slowly morphing pulses of sound that are sporadically interrupted by strummed chords or plucked arpeggios. My immediate impression of Robinson’s approach to playing, improvising and constructing his music was to see a synergy with Mark Hollis and Talk Talk, particularly albums like Spirit of Eden. This sentiment felt particularly apt when listening to ‘Silver Streams of Sorrow’ (although I also got a lot a Hawkwind references here… and not just form the word ‘silver’). Of course, the ‘garden’ theme might be throwing me but what I thought was going on was the same approach to stripping music back until all that remains is its essence. While Hollis worked with a wide range of instruments, Robinson is working with guitar and effects. Indeed, the effects themselves often feel quite low key, with some reverb and echo on most of the pieces and relatively spare use of the loop pedal or reverse audio of segments, allowing the guitar techniques to be clearly foregrounded. In all, a richly enjoyable album that has repaid plenty of repeated listenings. - Reviewed by Chris Baber, JAZZ VIEWS https://www.jazzviews.net/nick-robinson---lost-garden.html
Discus regular Nick Robinson has been experimenting with guitar looping for over twenty years and his experimental trio Das Rad finds opportunities to interweave them with Martin Archer and Steve Dinsdale. Here though on a rare solo outing, it is all about the guitar in all its incredibly varied manifestations. Taking the album name from a previous ambient duo, Lost Garden really does feel just like that. The sensation of being adrift in a rambling country garden that has not been visited for years is the key here, with every corner from sunlit glade to thorn-ridden wasteland catered for in the vast repertoire of sounds. The spare clash of disparate notes echo and fuzz, the roar of overdrive, a proggy swell with tones and textures that are harsh and grating. If this were a garden, here is the overgrown wasteland right at the back, full of nettles and blackthorn, tugging at sleeves and tearing at skin, but with a hidden beauty in which lurk young birds, a haven for insects. Distortion is manipulated and mangled, but can make way for an almost Spanish feel. Clear blue skies are evoked and it is Nick’s care with the the placement that allows the listener to be guided. This is not a virtuoso guitar album and it is all the better for it. It is a complex and considered series of patterns, as if he is painting with the guitar, constantly stepping back to ensure that the effect is right. The sweetness of some notes, the juxtaposition of backwards-looped elements, it all leads ever onward. There is Americana-style fingerpicking, a sense of pursuit along country lanes under gathering clouds; and at other points we are struck by the melancholic, cyclical insistence. The simplicity and willingness to allow notes to hang, suffused with space, is admirable. Siren sounds, distant, abstract and ominous resound, but ally with a drifting gentle breeze, the lightest waft with birds chattering in the trees. Drones perfectly envelop the soundstage, lending shade; while brief explosions of static scare the birds from the trees. Look a little further beyond this arboreal cluster of tranquillity and peace reigns again, with just the odd hint of discord. Staccato notes blow in the wind like so many leaves and there is a pastoral calm to a lot of the album that could only have been produced in the UK. At times, the pieces drift like wraiths, laden with texture, moving gently, notes barely present amidst echoing silence. It kind of makes me think that it is the sort of sound that Maurice Deebank may have arrived at if he had this inclination, because there is something of that Felt texture and a resolute love of the guitar. But if anything, Nick manages to go way beyond those ideas and expand, stretching the confines and ending up with something that is uniquely his. This is definitely one of the most satisfying solo guitar explorations I have heard and is a must for anybody inclined that way. - Mr Olivetti, FREQ https://freq.org.uk/reviews/nick-robinson-lost-garden/
Now here we have a really fascinating and interesting album that has a certain ambient proggy sound, all created on guitar by NICK ROBINSON, who is a British guitarist known for his work with the band DAS RAD. The new solo album Lost Garden goes much further than for example STEVE HACKETT or MIKE OLDFIELD and opens up a lot of creativity, sometimes spooky and/or calm, melodic and quite proggy (Toccata Apologetica and the superb MIKE OLDFIELDish Three Vices), while at other times quite aggressive and complex (Cautious Tragic). Lost Garden sounds like a piece of art you will learn to understand by listening multiple times. Nick is a genius on the guitar for sure and it’s a joy to check out if you’re a guitarfreak! - Strutter'zine
Nick Robinson kommt aus Sheffield und begann seine musikalische Karriere Anfang der 80er-Jahre des letzten Jahrhunderts als Gitarrist in Pop- bzw. New-Wave-Bands wie Typhoon Saturday, Dig Vis Drill, They Must Be Russians und Red Zoo, die auch jeweils Tonträger hinterlassen haben (Singles und Tonbandkassetten meist). Danach wand er sich verstärkt der Erzeugung von prozessiertem und in Schleifen gelegten progressiven E-Gitarrensounds zu. Ein erstes Soloalbum erschien 2003 ("One"). Seit einiger Zeit hält er sich verstärkt im Umkreis von Martin Archer auf, insbesondere als Gitarrist des Trios Das Rad, mit dem er bisher drei Alben veröffentlicht hat. Im Januar 2022 erschien mit "Lost Garden" sein zweites Soloalbum. Gitarren, vor allem E-Gitarren, und Effektgerätschaften bedient Robinson, wie er es auch bei Das Rad tut, mehrspurig übereinander gelegt und dicht miteinander verwoben. Ein Geflecht aus Tonbandschleifen (oder digitalen Äquivalenten) wogt auf "Lost Garden" meist dahin, über dem weitere Gitarrenlinien geschichtet wurden, bisweilen ergänzt um allerlei weitere Elektronikklänge. Das Ergebnis erinnert mal an Frippertronisches, mal an kantigere Gitarrenelektronik à la Pinhas, bietet aber auch luftigere Ambientgewebe und komplexer verzahnte Gitarrenimprovisationen. In "Toccata Apologetica" wird zudem fast akustisch Bach gehuldigt. Mal schneidend und sperrig, mal experimentell und freiformatig, mal zerbrechlich und schwebend, mal voluminös und hallend, mal vertrackt und plingend, mal verzerrt und jaulend, mal fast folkig und schrammelnd, mal düster und dröhnend, mal verspielt und rockig malt Robinson in Gitarrenklängen, umfangreich bearbeitet, elektronisch verfremdet und druckvoll produziert. Trotz der kleinen Besetzung ist "Lost Garden" eine sehr abwechslungsreiche Angelegenheit. Das gilt auch für das lange Schlussstück, welches noch einmal - quasi ein Album im kleinen - einen Querschnitt durch die eingangs des Paragraphen beschriebenen Klangwelten bietet. "Lost Garden" ist ein sehr farbiges, tiefgründiges und oft mächtiges Gitarren-Elektronikalbum, welches schön zwischen dissonant und melodisch pendelt, und durch die Bandbreite der gebotenen Klänge für intensive Unterhaltung sorgt, ohne dass die geringste Gefahr bestünde, dass Langweile aufkommt. Zumindest Freunde und Freundinnen von elektronischem, mal deftigem mal wunderschönem Gitarrenklangbasteln sollten hiermit sehr viel Spaß haben. - Achim Breiling, BABYBLAUE SEITEN
Wie das Leben so spielt. NICK ROBINSONs Ambitionen mit Typhoon Saturday, They Must Be Russians und Dig Vis Drill sind Mitte der 80er im Sand verlaufen, werden aber nostalgisch erinnert als “Dreams to Fill the Vacuum - The Sound of Sheffield 1977-1988”. Dafür brachte er es als Papierfalter zur Berühmtheit – er ist Präsident der British Origami Society. Doch blieb er der Gitarre treu, mit neuen Ohren, die er David Torn verdankt, als Nick Robinson Loops, bei “No Worn Bearings” (2010) mit Bernhard Wagner von Sonar. Auf Discus setzte sogar ein goldener Herbst ein, mit Martin Archer im Outward Sound Ensemble, in The Archers of Sorrow und mit noch Steve Dinsdale als Das Rad. Lost Garden (DISCUS 126CD), benannt nach seinem zeitweiligen Ambient-Duo mit Andy Peake (von The Comsat Angels), zeigt nun essentiell seinen Stand der Dinge, den er mit etwa 'Cautious Tragic', 'Toccata Apologetica' und 'Silver Streams of Sorrow' als melancholisch andeutet und floral und faunisch illustriert. Der Wind, der da mit über die Saiten bläst, der weht nämlich her von Electric Eden (wie Rob Young Britain's visionary music taufte in ihrer Grünkraft seit den 60s). Woher allerdings der deutsche Zungenschlag bei 'Zitterig' und 'Lebensfaltung' rührt, dazu fand ich keinen Hinweis. 'Trip_o_Phonix' ist eine ziemlich gute Metapher für die furiosen oder ätherisch fragilen Spektren in Pink und Crimson, durch die sich sein Glücksrad dreht. 'The Gates of Paradise' stehen dabei nie so offen wie bei Robert Fripp, auch dreht sich sein Räderwerk weder frippertronisch crafty noch sonar. Robinsons Anspruch ist zwischen Feuervogel, formelhaftem Mantra und schwebender Drift, deren Mood an Gavin Bryars' 'The Old Tower of Löbenicht' streift, ein eigener, in tagträumerischer Intuition, aber mit doch auch allerhand Studioalchemie, die den Zeitpfeil der Gitarrenwizardry verunklart. Er lässt Schmetterlinge aus Kristall und aus Gummi faltern, morphende Dröhnwellen surren und orgeln zu wehmütig gepickten Silberfunken. Der Gitarrenflow wird zum Delta, Sounds zucken und heulen, Saiten zirpen, Sekunden quallen vor und zurück. 'Bunting Nook' zieht zuletzt mit 18 ½ Min. nochmal alle Register der Robinsonade, vom orchestralen Intro über fragiles Kreisen, funkelnde Wellen, silbriges Klampfen, zagendes Innehalten zu doch fräsendem Andrang, der überquillt wie Alienblut und rauen Wellen intensiv Bahn bricht. - Rigobert Dittmann, BAD ALCHEMY
Guitarist Nick Robinson’s musical life began as a member of the Polydor-signed rock group Typhoon Saturday (née Red Zoo) and continued with post-punk bands Comsat Angels, Dig Vis Drill and also with jazz composer Neil Ardley. However, abandoning hopes of becoming a rock star, he turned instead to a career in origami. That proved very successful, and he’s written over 100 books on the subject. But Robinson has certainly not given up on music, as this solo album attests. He’s also a member of prog-ish improvisers Das Rad with Martin Archer and Steve Dinsdale and has played on over 50 albums to date. The vestiges of rock music have remained close to him as his electric (and acoustic) guitar outings on Lost Garden reveal. The opener Hushful Point oscillates between Frippertronics-like calm and frenetic overdriven fuzzy interspersions. There’s even a playful allusion to this Frippian soundscaping with the track titled Trip-O-Phonix. Toccata Apologetica starts with a lyrical fingerpicked tune, overlaid with Dave Gilmour-ish legato lines but then ends with a more urgent cascade of ascending notes. Robinson’s album is characterised by overdubs of guitars, variously treated with an assortment of electronic effects, often accompanied by loops. There’s also a tendency to shift back and forth from quiet passages to louder, more intrusive ones as with the simple echoey, chord strumming on Zitterig. Lebensfaltung has a semblance of minimalism, evoking shades of Terry Riley and Philip Glass. On Silver Streams Of Sorrow Robinson’s guitar evinces carefully controlled ghostly feedback as an embellishment over a fingerpicked vamp. The final track, Bunting Nook, is an 18-minute tour de force in which Robinson energetically throws everything bar the kitchen sink into the mix. Whilst Robinson might describe his music as ambient, it’s actually a pleasure to hear highly disciplined yet enthralling guitar pieces so painstakingly realised. - Roger Farbey, JAZZ JOURNAL https://jazzjournal.co.uk/2022/05/11/nick-robinson-lost-garden/