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Tag: Ian Boddy

Ian Boddy: Modulations

Modulations

Modulations

Ian Boddy: Modulations
Released: 19 June 2020
www.din.org.uk

Throughout Modulations (132’02”) Ian Boddy throws off some sparks. A musician who explores freely in spite of the risk this clutch of live tracks transpires in a kind of continuous arrival. Managing a select system of instruments these concert pieces reveal an aural landscape of unearthly radiance, yet also offers advanced listeners strange stretches of confining emptiness. Across six composed and passionate performances Boddy’s technique is exact and clear. Wherever delicately dancing tones and swirling textures take hold, elsewhere the spare procession of an isolated harmony, and distorting darkness, descends into the murky dimensions of an unpeopled realm. Sonic eddies assemble to realize a refuge of unearthly beauty, yet further into Modulations we may too be confronted with the starkness of the world as it is. At once adrift and alive to shifts in momentum and direction these improvised musical works emphasize the interior space. In the non-space of the mind pearly high tones and rounded ringing whirls herald the release of perfect sequencer cascades. These spring-loaded grooves unwind and recoil in a crisp, easy buoyancy on the upbeat tracks. In a carefree air they fuse and flow through coarse attacks and engaging note patterning. But for every ceaselessly alluring sound-space there is another frozen in some bleak waste. Exchanging its manic intensity for a more measured focus Modulations slows from its majestic roar, down to a subterranean murmur. In shadowy and semi-abstract expressions of timbre and atmosphere we chill and thrill to a range of unexpected gestures and signals. This masterful maneuvering lends the work a prevailing sense of certitude, as well as the occasional unexpected bite. There are those who wonder… where will we find the frontier of Electronic Music? And there are those who know… it is anywhere Ian Boddy can plug in his synthesizers. While lost in the electronic wilderness he is far from our modern conditions of anxiety and desire. The intentional blankness of this state of dis-connectivity offers a surprising tenderness – a soft declaration from a zone that refuses to be utterly lost.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END2 July 2020

Various Artists: Cosines and Tangents

Cosines and Tangents

Cosines and Tangents

Various Artists: Cosines and Tangents
Released: 18 October 2019
www.din.org.uk

For those contributing tracks to Cosines and Tangents, music is a more precise way to communicate. This volume, the third in the Tone Science series, presents nine works – every one made using a unique modular synthesizer system. Each component within these cases and cabinets is a discrete part chosen and arranged according to the taste and direction of the individual artist. Filters, oscillators, mixers, ring modulators, envelopes, and other even more esoteric pieces provide an unprecedented flexibility in sound design and music making. They are systems that are not fixed in the way conventional instruments are, and attract an interesting mix of musicians and engineers. Represented on Cosines and Tangents are a compelling cross-section of talented people from out of this body. From the raw power of Berserker by Redshift, to the intellectual vigor of Cyclosporum by Robert Rich, then down to the unpeople space of En-Edge by Radek Rudnicki, on up to the gentle mental popping pulse of Round #2 by Benge, this collection, in turns, offers the feeling of coming home, followed by the sense of leaving Earth. Overtly synthetic, these realizations all confer a particular electrical power – in hopes of awakening possibility in listeners. As there is no one perfect way to perform this music, we are well served by the select imaginations uplifting this group. Threading between the forces of chaos and order Cosines and Tangents produces a fascinating energy – a trait which has yet to be fully explained. However, what may be explained is why the field of Electronic Music has over these many years remained so innovative, so ahead of its time. This is plainly so because its practitioners have not forgotten the first principle of their work… the expressive manipulation of timbre – and remained true to a faith… that just as the soul animates a person, so timbre animates a sound.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END10 October 2019

Ian Boddy: Altair

Altair

Altair

Ian Boddy: Altair
Released: 17 May 2019
www.din.org.uk

Following his 2018 visit to Philadelphia, we find that there is still plenty of fight left in Ian Boddy. Altair presents concert music from this trip. Dazzling and engaging, the first disc of this double album unfolds in the fast-moving, unerring style Boddy has become known for at The Gatherings Concert Series. Providing a comfortable feel, amidst neat beats and pulsing sequencer patterns, Altair veers between fearsome acceleration and a breathtaking stillness. Boddy’s talent for harmonizing aural pleasure and vanguard ideas is in full play here. The rapturous strings, expressive solos and machine tone patterns ask us to feel something, while atonal clusters and metallic rumblings challenge the listener to ponder deeper mysteries. Synth leads edged in platinum bring melodies played with poetic sincerity, and pleasure the ear with caressing phrases. Riding above an insistent bassline, interlocking sonic structures wind around each other in fragile synchronization. The potent effect of the seven tracks on the audience (and the musician) was intensified within the reverential performance space, and may be felt again at each listening session. The second disc in this two-CD set matches the celestial scale of the STAR’S END radio program – where it was recorded. An elaborate musicalized dreamland the five tracks of this volume finds consonance retreating into a separate territory – as modulated effects wear down harmonies with deliberate pressure and howling electronics bellow through cavernous reverberation. These portentous soundscapes, rendered in dark gauzy layers, are offset by passages of focused energy and a sense of rocketing between star systems. This fifth such transmission by Boddy creatively uses well the dynamic range available to artists invited to these sessions. Sonic fragments were mixed and matched and layered one upon another. A glassy calm begets a serene interiority, until an enchanting discord clouds our heads. Whenever a scalding, raspy roar wails in caustic disquiet, the negative space enlarges – straight on to nowhere. Boddy, like all other Electronic Musicians, makes music out of electricity – but his true material is time and space. Altair exists so that others outside the moments of these recitals may hear the truth of his work, and know the magic of traveling in place.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END23 May 2019

Various Artists: Elements and Particles

Elements and Particles

Elements and Particles

Various Artists: Elements and Particles
Released: 19 October 2018
www.din.org.uk

It has been said that a scholar collects, and so with his Tone Science series we find Ian Boddy (of DiN Records) continuing a fine job of just that. Now let us welcome Elements and Particles (60’23”), the second anthology of nine musical realizations that have never before been. The raw material of this art is electricity, which is forged into sound and music by dreamers and builders. Their wordless structures offer everything from technological complexity to the simplicity of a prayer. The artful sonic organization of the works found on Elements and Particles can stem only from a developed instinct. Timbre has always been a secondary consideration in music, yet in the field of Electronic Music it is the key medium of artistic spiritual intensity. In a genre this wild and ungovernable, each piece exerts its own specific force on the imagination. In an ever-fading atmosphere, the artists presented on this collection are shaping the character of sound in a thousand small ways. Finding their internal guidance the nine come alive to transform gently vibrating tones into a commotion of motion. As the worrisome low trill of LFOs gives way to a formless vacuum, another track goes bone deep cold. When chaotic modulations upset the spirit level of our minds, conventional access points recede – and we are left with only the sensation of hearing. There are also places of unspeakable beauty. In this innovative modular synthesizer realm, oscillators may sing of the quiet power behind their volume, with tempered circuits humming in ascent. Chirping rhythms echo lines of melodious machine patterns, and scatter above the round warmth of slower purple notes. In metallic voices and synthesized verse this gear can reference its technological founders, but in this worship we only diminish a power meant to amplify humanity – to further advance our state. The nine musicians represented on Elements and Particles always choose the light – as their lives are meant for discovery. With each new musical endeavor they dare to be more human. We may be considered mad by those who cannot hear the music – yet for all those who understand, it is a wonder beyond all dispute. But as steady as we are in our pursuit, we must wonder… what is this strange compulsion that drives us to create? We all do live this question, and must live into its answer.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END27 September 2018

Various Artists: Structure and Forces

Structure and Forces

Structure and Forces

Various Artists: Structure and Forces
Released: 16 March 2018
www.din.org.uk

It can be hard to explain the appeal of modular synthesizer systems to outsiders. Magnificent in its potential, the work being generated by this group and their gear is far too big to be just one thing (and to easily explain to the commoner). Expansive in its range, the proud topic of the anthology Structure and Forces (66’59”) is sound. Its nine tracks were chosen and ordered by Ian Boddy. While averse to boundaries, Boddy has chosen artists from a select cadre of friends and colleagues – which gives this CD the feel of an album despite the differences in approach and ambition of each contributor. The experience of listening to Structure and Forces will be as equally wondrous to the techno-file as it is the stationary traveler. With no shared system of notation, these pieces are passed to one another by playing and listening… and just as these artists are enraptured by the making of this music, so are we in giving ear. From soul-deep vignette to sonic invective, each musician translates, transforms and wanders through a realm rooted in electrical current. Even passages where little is happening seem suspenseful. Idiosyncratic phrasing and articulation result in further steps toward abstraction, yet the flow of this release may just as easily land us in the comfort of blissful tone and reassuring harmony. At about the midway point the music becomes grounded in rhythm, and we are roused from our synaptic free-form yawn zone with a thought aligning pulsating groove. Mounting percussion echoes into a brave chord progression, drops, then resumes in a regular time signature. But however engaging, this is just a different kind of story of sound. Dedicated to the humanity behind this music Ian Boddy has decades of chapters behind and ahead of him. Structure and Forces (his Tone Science project) reminds us that Electronic Music has never been tied to a single identity, and that neither is it temporary. With its streams of potentially endless variations this genre seems to attract people with an internal clock out of sync with that of society – which these days slips so easily into bored indifference. While its unifying theme is the contemporary modular synthesizer, this machinery is of little importance – when we compare these systems to the works they are used to create.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END3 May 2018

Arc: Fleet

Fleet

Fleet

Arc: Fleet
Released: 20 October 2017
www.din.org.uk

Arc, the UK duo of Ian Boddy & Mark Shreeve, returned to the stage in force at the 13 May 2017 E-Scape EM Festival. Their resulting album is Fleet (74’31”), and includes seven select pieces from their performance. Only in part a vehicle for release and liberation, their live shows always reach towards the unseen depths within all of us. A compelling team on the stage or in the studio, we find that after so many years together their creative flame is still burning brightly. From start to finish, Boddy & Shreeve know where we are headed. Recruiting technology they feel could best carry their intents, it is a devotion to form, structure and rigorous compositional development that yields these tightly arranged and perfectly paced live works. So enormous are its gifts that this music nearly remakes the space around us. Bursting with moody sensuality Fleet takes each member of its audience on their own personal journey. This electrical, mechanical music obviously has something warm and human stirring far down in it. With its deep space gateways and brilliant, skull crushing sequencer breakdowns, from the heights of its combustible, cut loose, superb heedlessness, on down to its quietly ominous consuming dark fields, Fleet invites wonder. While some pieces were designed to be nothing more than a fun good time, this album’s best works should unsettle the world into which it intercedes. In ever strengthening whirlpools of thought, Boddy & Shreeve deploy rows of echoing tone patterns and banks of synthesized harmonies. Unblinking, completely in control, their formidable powers of sound design can leave listeners feeling profound and impervious to lasting harm. Heroic keyboard leads and Mellotron chords peak over a pumping, commanding bassline and rocked-out drumming – only later to be drawn down into shifting shadows of sustaining synth textures and a quiet sense of mystery. Fleet provides an epic intimacy in the digital age. In a time where just going to a concert becomes a symbolic act, we love to look back at the decade of the 1970s – as it was bursting so with musical abandon. But our so-called Electronic Spacemusic still keeps taking musicians (and us) to new and fascinating places. So many currents have contributed to its arrival, that one modernistic label should not be allowed to overshadow all else – even as it dares to satisfy us in a way music of an earlier age used to.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END26 October 2017

Ian Boddy: As Above So Below

As Above So Below

As Above So Below

Ian Boddy: As Above So Below
Released: 18 November 2016
www.din.org.uk
www.ianboddy.com

After the absorption of so many modern minimal musical explorations, where works are realized or discovered rather than composed and produced, it comes as something of a relief to listen to an album made with expressive intent. Heading towards the poetic world of memory and imagination Ian Boddy harnesses the power of his synthesizers, and ably delivers As Above So Below (39’08”). Its six tracks feel organic, never schematic – flawlessly flowing across a fascinating range of textures and moods. In possession of an electrified core (enchanting on its own terms), with this economical release Boddy manages to fuse a stylistically progressive arrangement and cosmic music atmosphere. Spirit and mood synchronize in a harmony of plaintive electronics and machine beauty. Energy levels build, then take unexpected turns. Abstract forms coalesce into meaningful melodies… all the while, the thematic density of each piece engages and sustains the listener. Whenever As Above So Below takes dark turns, we feel confident. Passages for grand piano and reverb feel elegant and elated, in some contrast to elsewhere-present impressionistic washes of ethereal choir and roiling drones. While his darkness shimmers on the surface, Boddy builds towards big ideas. The pacing is methodical, the narrative captivating, and the production substantial. Spinning like different sized wheels running at different rates, electronic rhythms and synthesized patterns momentarily take their place in front, then move back in support – all together outputting a most wonderful clockwork music. Letting it overheat, off-kilter drumbeats mix with spacey modulated tones – to frame rising synth leads and evocative string chords. Whatever has been left out is meant for the listener to fill in. Yet, this work is meant to be enjoyed, not solved. His music is a fundamental source of Ian Boddy’s identity. As Above So Below is a work of surprising effect. Active listening will elevate the mind and deepen the spirit, this from an established star still determined to grow.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END24 November 2016

Ian Boddy: Tone Science

Tone Science

Tone Science

Ian Boddy: Tone Science
Released: 26 February 2016
www.din.org.uk

Much like the apes struggling to comprehend the monolith, there are those among us who will not understand Tone Science (60’46”). But, this music is not for them – as it, and its producer Ian Boddy, benefits more from intelligent company. To enjoy Tone Science it helps to partner with its author, and leave all mainstream musical concepts behind. Here Boddy plays with an ear for color, motion and texture, forsaking conventional narrative clarity. It is an experience by way of the senses, rather than through pure mental interpretation. Our focus expands beyond sound, to the sources of that sound, to its imminent fragility and a state of unbeing. It may be difficult to lose ourselves in Tone Science, as its negative space is constantly asking us to make sense of it. One moment triggers the next so seamlessly that eventually chaos is re-engineered into the illusion of a natural order. Throughout the soundspace, tones flicker lightly across the surface, or burrow deep within it – and come into focus, or all but disappear. The gentle descent into incandescent timbres and rambling, fearsome energy has the ability to stir the imagination. Throbbing with texture, then snapping into focus, Boddy’s five lessons on loudness, denseness, sonority, and several unidentifiable musical traits, enmesh the listener in aural events that are impossible to live aloud. Taking refuge in a world of abstraction, sonic figments may summon mental imagery to supplement aural input, but really only offer spatial and cognitive distortions. As a fragile stability gives way to strange, vigorous explorations, we wonder if these works could actually be destroying Boddy’s studio equipment in their production. Beauty may be found in maximal passages, when the details (as here) are done right. Peaceful moments are few, with boiling oceans, frozen wastelands, disconnected time and states of imminent collapse arising out of Boddy’s most innovative electronic modulations. Without any concession toward standard Spacemusic plotting, Tone Science descends into artistic reverie – representing a state of total disengagement. Defying metaphorical interpretation, its most salient tension may be found in our fraught relationship between known and unknown tones. At times frustratingly complex and impenetrable, we do not reason our way through an album like this; we must allow it to just wash over us. In a journey through the sense of hearing Boddy hopes to re-diagram our impressions of time, memory and consciousness. He has the uncanny ability to infuse a familiar genre with deeper meaning, and leave the listener feeling exhilarated. With Tone Science we find a deliberate exposure of Boddy’s psyche, which feels even more intimate than his many more conventional works. From safely behind his thick walls, we feel the satisfaction of the master.

Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END14 April 2016

Arc: Umbra

Umbra

Umbra

Umbra by Arc
Released: 24 June 2014
www.din.org.uk

The UK duo of Ian Boddy and Mark Shreeve perform together as Arc and sing the mental electric with an inventive sonic flair. Although Umbra (78’22”) was recorded at the E-Live Festival in Oirschot in The Netherlands on 19 October 2013 the true setting for this live CD is the border between reality and fantasy. Umbra proceeds not by chorus and verse but by theme and variation – its cosmic beauty easily experienced over and over. While tone and atmosphere dominate this music, Arc never relinquishes the power of mood. Bursting with raw feelings Umbra is the tale of two madmen experiencing the danger and glory of self-expression in the live venue. For Shreeve creating music with his vintage Moog modular synthesizer must be sonic heaven. From this instrument’s storm force of sound comes a delightful throbbing bass pulse, echo-warping chimes and sequencer machine patterns against which the two musicians sway and play synthesized strings, organ and heroic lead lines. Boddy’s course corrections and contour adjustments move each of the six tracks through their own journey from dark to an even darker shade of dark. Mellotron strings and choir fill the upper register and hope to never touch the churning drones and space winds howling below – while the brief experimental zones leave us searching space for an access point. Umbra concludes with the concert’s encore piece, an optimistic and upbeat heart-pounder full of high-octane drums, rock melodies and of course a pumping bass foundation. Fortunately for the Spacemusic community Boddy and Shreeve share the belief that our interior lives are far more important than whatever direction pop culture is rushing. But this music should not be thought of as an escape, but rather as something for the thoughtful people already populating the monastic backwaters of the ambient elsewhere – however far from the mainstream that realm may be.

(Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END10 July 2014)

Ian Boddy & Erik Wøllo: EC12

EC12

EC12

EC12 by Ian Boddy & Erik Wollo

Released: 31 March 2014
www.din.org.uk

Quite prolific in their solo studio and live efforts as well as in collaboration, the creatively restless duo of Ian Boddy and Erik Wøllo meet up again on EC12, a live album recorded at Germany’s Electronic Circus Festival on 22 September 2012. Undoubtedly a unique and magical live album of contemporary instrumental works, a larger theme does emerge as the boreal textures and frosty atmosphere of their previous CD provides the core sonic identity of EC12. Somewhat of a follow-up to their studio release Frontiers (2012) EC12 works as both an introduction to the unaware and a deeper excursion for dedicated fans. While the majority of the tracks are live renditions of compositions from Frontiers the remaining concert pieces are unique to EC12 – and deliver remarkable pleasures. As the pace of the music picks up nothing passes by in a blur; the arrangements retaining their clarity very well. Their complex and expressive performance of beautifully glazed keyboard textures, threatening bass rumble and percussive build becomes truly beautiful when we are really paying attention. In an unexpected burst of clarity Wøllo and Boddy trade then layer lead lines of liquid guitar tropes and sliding synthesizer tones. In another exciting passage Wøllo and Boddy rock out with pulse quickening steel string and keyboard melodies – ever so sweetly overdriven – easily reaching the last row of the venue and the kinetic center of the brain. In contrast the sweeping emotional feel of the dense synth-string chords, echoing sequencer runs, breathing guitar and environmental interludes are where tiny details become indelible landmarks. This duo has produced a concert album that does not rely on melody, harmony or rhythm alone, but instead has them working together in patient harmony. Boddy and Wøllo do plunge in deep on EC12, but never leave the listener behind.

(Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END17 April 2014)