from New Musical Express 13 feb 1982 p4
OUT OF HIS TREE - NICELY
photo: Tina Carr
LET ME take you down, cos I'm going to . . . Hilly Fields?
Quite why this obscure South London park should have inspired the best psychedelic record made since the '60s, well, that's a mystery known only to its maker, a man named Nick Nicely. His EMI single, 'Hilly Fields (1892)' to give it the proper title, is a beautiful and baffling exercise in DIY weirdness.
Multi-layered, lovingly-crafted and endlessly complex, the song could come straight off 'Magical Mystery Tour', and the truly shocking thing is that it's every bit as good. Like, far out.
Nick Nicely is an enigmatic figure who prefers to forget his past, although the press release goes so far as to reveal he was born in Greenland. Most of the '70s saw him holed up in his suburban bedroom, laying the fantasies of his imagination on to tape. By 1980, he'd scraped the finance to put out an indie single - the quirky, electronic 'DCT Dreams'. But soon after, he was entranced by a new project. Putting all his meagre resources ('everything in my flat that wasn't nailed down, I sold) he spent six solid months on 'Hilly Fields (1892)'. EMI picked it up, the reviewers put it down, but I love it and it's getting airplay too.
A single-minded individualist, he knew nothing of London's ''psychedelic revival'' but pursued his own obsessions, privately. The song's lyrics are vague, but intriguing and ghostly - Nick can't explain them, but tripping into a late-Victorian psychedelic time-warp gets you some of the way there - a mix, to my mind of Picnic At Hanging Rock and that old, old David McWilliams classic 'The Days Of Pearly Spencer' (remember it?).
Having worked this elaborate homage to '67 Beatles out of his system, Nicely has gone back to his bedroom, his synthesizers and drum-machines (and the odd cello-playing friend) to work with fingers crossed. Future tunes will be more openly electronic, ''but still random, not all pre-programmed''.
I'll be waiting.
- PAUL DU NOYER
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