Word came down just yesterday that the ever-amazing labels Medical Records and 2510 Records was gearing up to co-reissue a rarity of the Portland music world: Paul Nelson’s self-released 1981 synth record Vortex. The music is ripe for rediscovery, especially here in the city where Control Voltage is helping so many young and old artists become self-reliant masters of the electronic world. Vortex feels like it was created under the sway of a binge-listening session to vintage Tangerine Dream and Gary Numan albums. Some songs are dark electro pop while others ape the album’s artwork and aim to capture the sound of the cosmos as heard via Nelson’s handmade and store bought gear.
I’ll let the press release from Medical Records tell the rest of the story about this amazing album and artist:
Paul grew up around Portland and had a strong background in music and music theory. He built a PAIA synthesizer when he in junior high and developed a keen intuition into analog synthesis. Eventually he purchased a MiniMoog and was very influenced by Alan Parsons, ELP, and ENO. Armed with more gear as time went on (Sequential Circuits 600 sequencer, Oberheim DS-2, etc), Paul was offered an opportunity to record his own album which led to the Recording Associates sessions during which “Vortex” was born. The LP was also half-speed mastered at JVC Studios in CA. 1000 copies were originally pressed and self-distributed by Paul. The opening track “Automated Man” which also happens to be the only track with vocals, is a slab of genuine electro greatness with it’s sharp synth hooks and vocoded vocals. The LP takes many twists and turns with many tracks of sequenced pulsations, electronic drums, and rhythms reminiscent of the Sci-fi soundtracks mixed with a healthy dose of almost proggy space/cosmic disco crossed with later-age Tangerine Dream. “Vortex 2” is a perfect example of the above description with imagery of a Blade Runner-esque chase scene meets Carpenter at his most upbeat. “Labyrinth” takes more a more relaxed synth odyssey approach with slower percussion and a spacier vibe overall. The rest of side 2 “Vortex 3-4-5” is a magnificent build up of ambient soundscapes that morph into a slow cosmic burner and fades out again into the darkness to close the LP. All tracks have been restored and remastered by Paul Nelson for this release. For many years this LP could be found in the PNW in record bins but over the last decade, it has been become quite rare which has led to it fetching rather high prices on the collector’s market. Medical Records is thrilled to introduce the world to this work of art again. For fans of library synth, sci-fi soundtracks, and other more sequenced electronic acts such as Tangerine Dream, Axxess, and minimal synth. This reissue is presented on high-quality 180gram splatter paint on opaque white vinyl. Features exact reproduction of the front and infamous back covers. Contains bonus insert with in-depth interview with Paul Nelson by Else Teicher. Limited edition.