Spacemusic Reviews

Tag: Ian Boddy

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

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

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

Ian Boddy: Modulations



Ian Boddy: Modulations
Released: 19 June 2020

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

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



Ian Boddy: Altair
Released: 17 May 2019

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

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

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