Spacemusic Reviews

Category: DiN

Ian Boddy: Coil


Ian Boddy: Coil
Released: 14 October 2022

Contemporary EM is rife with the rapid and the vapid. The work of Ian Boddy has always risen above such wreckage by taking on poignant extra dimensions. The studio release Coil (39:19) is a partnership of ear, mind and hand – of listening, conception and touch – qualities that distinguishes all of his work. An album of six electrical episodes, a hexad of dreamy brain games, it ventures along interior frontiers in an involved tangle of instrumental polyphony. Adorned with grace notes of murderous intent as well as tender timbres of splendor the listener bears the paradox of mutability. Yet further in, supple tracks cool this flame and help harmonize the systems-based rigor of minimalism with the impulsive beauty of sonic invention. In the reflections and refractions of sound this stylistically restless release exudes both technical prowess and artistic vision. Eruptive and exacting, then spare and starry-eyed, Coil holds us in a particular awed fascination. On a few compositions Boddy seems more interested in the heat of the beat than in its meaning. These passages rumble and rattle their way forward beneath echoing pulse patterns. Sonics gradually rise in intensity before discharging in a deluge of dancing arpeggios. Sweeping, swelling, pumping bass and synth themes wind out in the deep dark of blackening space. Shifting sequencer patterns escalate the mood through a series of heroic progressions. Jumping from one key to another the pace careens and beckons the listener to follow the reeling transfers. As night falls the music wanes in transparency. Shadows hold their breath. In a display of tones, textures and skills Boddy’s effort here becomes a mirror – as Coil revels in the flawed, fleeting beauty of the present moment. Remembering yesterday, while writing the story of tomorrow, this interweaving of atmosphere, texture, mood and feeling has been overseen by a rouge spirit – heard glowing and growing within his superb gift to the world.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END13 October 2022


Ian Boddy & Erik Wollo: Revolve


Ian Boddy & Erik Wollo: Revolve
Released: 16 September 2022

Night occurs while our side of the planet is facing away from the sun. During the darkness it may be easier to view the moon above studying us here on the surface – and receive the potential and possibilities La Luna brings us. Also perfectly happy traveling their own orbits Ian Boddy and Erik Wollo have changed trajectory just long enough to make Revolve (51:38) – a studio set of climactic chords, bewitching themes and richly arrayed wonders of rhythm and pulse. In a compulsively detailed mix of moods and impressions this duo pulls toward a hard chill. Across eight tracks momentum rises and falls in measured motion. Swirling under a circulation of synthetic sound, harmonies play and progress in a concord of affecting chromatic steps. Passing through assorted effects, Wøllo’s lead lines are poignant, ethereal and elegant – conjuring zones and tones known to few of his guitar contemporaries. Supporting the swell and contraction of scale we find Boddy’s passagework underpinning the luxurious lyricism. While shifting sequencer patterns run through a series of imaginative progressions, heart-felt strains and refrains unfurl in a rising ribbon of silvery silk. The direction theses tunes take is ever upward, with each resolution redolent of the future this music promises. Their sonics feel less supplied than turned loose. In one place exuding an ambient melancholy, then further in hitting the listener hard with expertly marshalled beats and grooves, a rapt, expectant air of exuberance vents. As voluptuous melodies become embedded in spacey structures the energy level rises by scalar steps. The back and forth between Boddy and Wollo shows a reflective tenderness. This heart-first doubleton derives meaning from simple forms, vague vibrations, and the unknown energies collaboration may release. Their magnificent album has been so carefully constructed that by the time the concluding notes bring us back to ourselves we are ready and willing to truly listen. Revolve feels from outside our own time. It speaks to an era – an era that has yet to come.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END8 September 2022

Scanner: The Homeland of Electricity

The Homeland of Electricity Scanner

Scanner: The Homeland of Electricity
Released: 17 June 2022

Accessible only from the first person The Homeland of Electricity (50:11) attracts our attention by way of the veritable imagination of Robin Rimbaud. Under the enduring alias of Scanner he has realized another ten tracks – ten transmissions better understood as distillations of thought, streamlined to play for us within the parameters of Electronic Music. The character of the sounds that make up The Homeland of Electricity range from the rounded and consonant to the brittle and bleak. These deep late encounters with Scanner may go one way or another. Some moments are as soft as sleep, where the mind may slip free of conscious control – while further in arraying linear patterning yields steady sequencer runs, then on into a wide, curved vacancy where we are left to wander the wastes of space alone. Mechanized patterns of notes emerge with an assured meter. In the succession of tones and ideas we find ourselves traveling in place. Within such ambiguous sonorities it is an easy drift deeper into the music. Midway through this album excursion arises a point where we can firmly feel the pressure of Rimbaud’s creative energy. In a present tense of wakefulness the propulsion of beats and wildness of samples barreling through slick sputtering synths crosses over Spacemusic boundaries and into something more alloyed. Between the disarmingly gentle and the animated and unconfined we attempt to grasp Scanner’s Zone of the Unknown. In his unforced experimentation he discovers hidden affinities. From the raw and power packed to the subtle and dulcet this work retains an all-embracing spirit. By remaining unnamed, it remains even more so in our thoughts.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END14 July 2022

Polypores: Hyperincandescent


Polypores: Hyperincandescent
Released: 20 May 2022

The electronic instruments in the studio belonging to Polypores are just waiting for Stephen James Buckley to tell his story. Realizing music of the imagination, the laboratory conditions of this art have produced Hyperincandescent (43:54). While thoroughly modern, the making of and listening to this marvelous music does still allow for an old-fashioned charm and wonderment. Its reverence for thinking, or because it is undertaken by a musician whose mind is so settled and fixed upon their work, Hyperincandescent will be heard as a unique form of expression – one where the mind has created something that it did not already know of. Pursued in multiple parts, each of this album’s suites connect continuously across the span of an LP side. From drifting weightlessness to roiling tempest, this music feels like a journey through time, darkness and light. Discovering properties of sound, Buckley expresses well the play of atoms in the mind. Describing this work by its magnitude, volume, density, speed, energy, mass, duration and direction may help listeners recognize the intelligence at the other end of this musical message. But the truth of this release is found in its ability to magically transform our surroundings into an element to which we belong. In striking sonic swirls and upward scales the two tracks re-affirm the pleasures of Electronic Music – while further in chill currents descend downward past known forces. Notes combine as they collide. In such shades lush and tender their beauty feels electric. Sequencer patterns emerge amid machine modulations, and are soon swept toward a vista of synthesized chords. In bonding better to this voltage vision, the music gives full play to our fancy, and rises to new heights. There is a creative lifeblood circulating through Hyperincandescent. It is a music-to-think-about record – easier to enjoy when your mind is flexible and in a playful, pondering mood. In this open, neural neutral state we are most likely to find an order to these tones, and some meaning waiting for us within this most patient music.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END19 May 2022

Various Artists: Protons and Neutrons

Protons and Neutrons

Various Artists: Protons and Neutrons
Released: 18 March 2022

The DiN Records anthology series Tone Science submits its sixth volume with Protons and Neutrons (69:28) – an assemblage of stories connected by technology that when taken together has the power to extend and enrich our thoughts.

Wandering through a realm rooted in the electrical, Prisms by James Bernard flows in gentle brushstrokes of sound. Vanta by Elin Piel offers suspense, then the certain cycling of intermingling sequencer lines. Field Lines Cartographer (Mark Burford) provides an intriguing sonic collage with his Eddy Currents, which languidly drifts and flutters about the listening space. In a further step toward abstraction Contradictory Forecasts from Sarah Belle Reid tells its story of modulations and routings through a current of experimentation. Adrian Beasley gently restores consonance with Waving in Harmony, a sustaining transfer between resonant notes and dreaming modules. Elinch advances the energy level in the lively Upward, a building, strobing, pattern piece of voltic emanations. With Random Possibilities Steve Roach pursues the mystery pulse vibrating within his music system. In the Shadow of Giants by Ombient (Mike Hunter) references the 1970s Berlin-School in synchronized layers of mechanized patterns. Then, working all the dials, switches and patch cables Doug Lynner shapes and steers audio discharged from galvanic sources, and with his The Mutation Trio concludes this collection in a challenge to seek meaning in this conceptual work.

Protons and Neutrons presents another nine exemplary tracks based on the open architecture of modular synthesis, and is a must-have for those interested in adventurous Electronic Music. The realizations presented throughout the Tone Science series touch something essential within the informed listener. Making their statements through the manipulation of sound, this group forges electricity into music of no terrestrial reference. Each contribution in this run of albums is a commitment to the creative act itself – which transpires in a surreal, unknowable atmosphere – and asks nothing more than to ignite the gifts of the imagination.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END10 March 2022

Ian Boddy: Modulations II

Modulations IIIan Boddy

Ian Boddy: Modulations II
Released: 5 November 2021

To reimagine a poetical, electrical experimentation for the modern era, Ian Boddy configures his modular synthesizer system to produce an artful interplay of raw and refined tones. A counterpoint to his more melodious work, albums like Modulations II (91:44) are meant for those in an experimental frame of mind. Moving stealthily through his music, Boddy instantly brings the listener in – fascinating us with a spectacle of sound, and leaving us to wonder what will be sprung upon us next. In six tracks of world building Boddy crafts his own sounds, and tells his own story. Close listening will be rewarded as this technique is so meticulous, and approach and perspective so unique, that a full and distinct abstract expression is achieved. Discharging audio from electricity, tenebrous particles swim in space. In this voltaic realm, where dragons growl low and ghost chants ring in the air above, hidden hierarchies do crackle. Whenever Modulations II beams with sunlight harmonies, soon follows a blurry mass of roiling questions and charged sparks. Long builds of a portentous timbre resolve and release in the darkness – groping toward a muted fissure in reality. The pulse and rhythm of the machine harnesses a circularity of notes – radiating with each tight turn of the wheel into widening arcs of mechanized regularity. The sequencer lines echo and motor strength, traveling this collection of tones and textures between sonic storm and soothing sigh. The tricky backdrop sputters, winds out, then whispers a song of circuits dreaming. The wonderment of music and modulations – which may be realized from a properly patched up system of warm wires, transistors and knobs – may arrive during Modulations II, but lasts only briefly… because once he gets where he is going, Ian Boddy quickly keeps moving – further out.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END6 January 2022

Ian Boddy: Nevermore

NevermoreIan Boddy

Ian Boddy: Nevermore
Released: 15 October 2021

The beginning of this album sounds like the end of the world. Nevermore (60:27), the live release from Ian Boddy, sets out hovering just beyond the edge of tonality. Stark, inscrutable, his mental circuitry on full display, Boddy thus pulls us in and carries us along his hour long session from SoundQuest Fest (streamed on 27 March 2021). As the raw, resonant core of the bolder sonic palette recedes, the new zone he builds is lush, complicated, immersive, and alive. Avoiding cog-in-a-machine sequencer operation, the music awakens in walking bass steps, and palpitating percussion – and soon takes flight in echoing tone patterns and electronic grooves. Here some intimate drama may be felt in Boddy’s passionate synth leads. Gliding between notes his dexterous playing visits areas barely imagined beyond conventional synthesizers. Prominent against the backdrop of inter-layered rhythms these passages feel enveloping and fully imagined. Managing to wring big moments from his live rig we find Boddy glowing even in moments of darkness – as might electrical fireflies sparking slow against the velvet black of space. Residing in the upper registers, above a rich middle, synth leads rise on a thermal of melody. Making use of this form’s proven excitements, well-crafted tones burn through the clouds. Boddy knows how to hold an audience’s attention, and even at this height, when the instrumentation finally contracts, knows just where to land. The exploration of a bolder sonic palette, the inflected wonder of his concert, and this musician’s uncommon aliveness, are an indication that modular synthesis is propelling a new era of music innovation. While these instruments may seem made of something other than inert metals and plastics, the sound moving beneath these kinds of concerts is the experience of truth. While we are away, traveling through this rich aural universe, no non-negotiable realities interfere with our dream. It is upon our return from the Nevermore journey that we may have a clearer look at what is left of our realm.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END14 October 2021

Lyonel Bauchet: The Diver

The DiverLyonel Bauchet

Lyonel Bauchet: The Diver
Released: 17 September 2021

Lyonel Bauchet‘s collection of electronic implements seem to carry the weight of ceremonial objects, that is until he starts operating them. Working off the energy of his imagination, he delves into a singular sonic cosmos of relentlessly synthetic sound. His The Diver (52:38) teems with weightless sonorities and blended timbres. Issuing from a well-managed system of modular synthesizer components and keyboards we might guess that this work belongs as much to the musician as it does to his instruments. But while this studiously constructed album exalts the modulation possibilities of the studio equipment, Bauchet’s music delivers a substantial revealing experience. From intense droning depths to lighter harmonic progressions, the five tracks on The Diver are continually contracting and expanding. Drifting in a cool blackness, then rising into orbit, the sound field shifts shape and scale – swinging gently between contemplation and dynamism. Further in rhythms rise in sonic celebration. A space motor spins out its sequence of notes. Echoing in unguarded patterns the aural energy expands, as we revel in how beautifully electricity may be rendered into music. Part of a genre with no limiting principles the wordless structures found here provide many inviting and reassuring textures – countered well by moments of experimental introversion and metaphysical mood. On this journey into the materiality of sound we may certainly notice the connection of imagination and creativity to technique and technology, but the most thrilling moment in listening to The Diver comes finally when we listeners claim what we are hearing as our own.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END16 September 2021

Various Artists: Integers and Quotients

Integers and Quotients

Various Artists: Integers and Quotients
Released: 14 May 2021

Although it may at first seem risky to buy a CD featuring weird music by nine obscure musicians, consumers may rest assured that the DiN Records Tone Science sub-label series in question is expertly curated with your listening interests in mind. Across five volumes (thus far) it has forged a distinct identity. Integers and Quotients (62:11) presents examples of Electronic Music made using instruments with an open-ended programability. Brimming with mischief and menace, tenderness and abstraction, drama and dreams, the listener comes close enough to this music to feel its electric charge.

Presenting another nine musicians who display capabilities just beyond that of the mainstream, Integers and Quotients opens with Incantation by Helene Vogelsinger. As her branching sequencer structures cycle in clockwork precision, our thoughts extend to a higher plane… Next, Raffael Seyfried‘s Iterations is marked by a sense of longing – with recurring reverberant piano notes resolving mysteriously among arpeggio stepped synth tones… Stephan Whitlan builds his Waving and Drowning from an intricately imagined starkness, which expends its strength and intensity in fascinating cosmic turbulence… Johnny Woods navigates the dexterous rhythms and lush backdrops of his Cuckoo with an unhurried ease. Tumbling together, the patterns convey a live-wire unity… The Polypores piece Clocks, Unravelling cascades through broken chords in skipping pulse time and oscillating machine timbre. The result is as psychologically probing as it is aesthetically pleasing… Lisa Bella Donna‘s de-centering Electronic Study #26 questions the listener. An atonal collage of electronic textures, we must find our own meaning – while negotiating an abstract aural plane… Integers and Quotients climaxes in the sonic heft of Delusion by Matths. Pushing the beat into new terrain, this work rises into frenzied fantasy, before collapsing into an abyss of its own making… and even the author of this review (Chuck van Zyl) has a fervid tale to tell; in The Zanti Misfits strobing power electronics crescendo, then settle into a subtle Berlin-School sequencer dance – resounding in a dreamy and reflective glow… To conclude the experience, Philippe Petit reveals a cold charisma with Delicate Elementum, his endeavor into the materiality of sound. A startling balance between freedom and structure, gorgeous torrents of charged emanations build and recede, revealing a quietly radical passion and purpose of expression… which reminds us that all of this music belongs as much to the musician as it does to their instrument.

The ambition of the Tone Science series remains exciting – its initial spark still felt deeply throughout the fifth volume Integers and Quotients. This music asks us to imagine beyond the limitations of conventional thinking, and our current dark day, to catch a glimpse of an enchanted cosmos and all that it has to offer – because we need not feel trapped in the present, when we can hear such clear, wonderful sounds coming from the future.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END13 May 2021

Ian Boddy & Markus Reuter: Outland

OutlandMarkus Reuter & Ian Boddy

Ian Boddy & Markus Reuter: Outland
Released: 16 April 2021

On their Outland (40:38) Ian Boddy & Markus Reuter offer another celebration of the imagination, as no two other musicians can. Both stars prove marvelous to listen to through this Spacemusic LP adventure. In episodic tumult we make our way across the three tracks per side – delivering us deftly to the destination of all great albums. A blending of two minds, talents and vision this release is executed with gripping precision. From the desolate and starkly beautiful opening, the energy rises in building sequencer runs. Above this propulsive and exciting scene we become riveted by Reuter’s liquid lead lines. Channeling his rock roots into uninhibited runs of incandescent notes, he haunts our hearts – as only a tale told in sound can. Still smoldering, Reuter’s limber lead lines resolve into a zone of tenderness, as clean plucked steel strings announce a more subtle, intimate zone. In a display of laid-back, self-possessed coolness, Boddy meets the guitar with the conviction of his gliding euphonic narratives. Baring his heart in exquisite expressions a sliding sonic story reaches out along a glissando ribbon – until the swell of synthesizers again washes over us. A roiling drone flows in a chilled engine-room undercurrent, beneath the gauzy glow of reverberant ringing tones. Through this duo’s rare melodic dexterity we learn their secrets. Consistently able to make works in a style that is personal to themselves, while delivering an enjoyable sonic impact to their audience, Outland provides an exceptionally satisfying experience. As this brilliant journey closes, we seem to be left forever wandering between the winds – a zone where the dreams are poetic artifacts of minds fully lit up by music.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END15 April 2021