Review: DiN36 - Pearl - Ian Boddy
Review in January 2011 edition of Classic Rock Presents Prog by Rob Hughes
Since stumbling into a sound studio at a workshop in Newcastle some 30 years ago, Ian Boddy has been diligently amassing an impressive spread of work. To date he's racked up 23 solo LPs plus 24 collaborative ones. This engrossing retrospective, issued on his own DiN ambient label, pulls from all corners of his oeuvre. The processed beats and propulsive heft of his earliest recordings, particularly 1983's The Climb, still feel alarmingly modern. Conversely, 2007's Metropolis sounds like a retro-futurist's version of BEF or Cabaret Voltaire.
Boddy's music delights in the abstract, using modular and analogue synths to create instrumental works that nod to both the teutonic dawn of krautrock and the meditative washes of Eno. His later compositions - Never Forever, The Mechanics Of A Thought - are generally more restive, but that said, 2008's Troubadour is the kind of rhythmic shimmerfest that will thrill disciples of Giorgio Moroder. The DiN imprint has become home to a host of like-minded voyagers, including Chris carter, Robert Rich and Mark Shreeve. All of whom feature on collaborations here, though the standout is Atomicity with Nigel Mullaney. Meanwhile, anyone unsure of Boddy's prog credentials should check out Presentation Of An Offering, made with Markus Reuter, the pair collaborating last year with King Crimson's Pat Mastelotto.
Review in Sonic Curiosity by Matt Howarth
This retrospective of Boddy's music features selections sourced from releases stretching from 1980 through 2008. The first disc concentrates on Boddy's older solo work and includes a track from his debut cassette release, three pieces from his DeWolfe library music series, as well as an excerpt from his sound design work, along with other selections from his early releases. The second disc focuses on the music he has done for his own DiN label, solo material and tracks done in collaboration with: Chris Carter, Nigel Mullaney, Markus Reuter, Bernhard Wöstheinrich, Robert Rich, and Mark Shreeve.
Disc 1 displays the first two decades of Boddy's work. The music often bears a more traditional sound, with majestic tunes and songs showing traces of a peppier disposition. Sweeping keyboard panoramas delineate inspirational moods supporting lively riffs. Sinuous melodies abound with snappy rhythms. A versatile palette is utilized, with sounds running the gamut from dense bass tones to sharper chords to heavenly airs. Touches of New Age blend with modern electronic stylings, producing a collection of tuneage that is reliably thrilling in its distinguished motif.
Disc 2 offers a refined Boddy, a synthesist more prone to daring experimentation, stretching the genre of contemporary electronics into new realms. Whether crafting tunes with techno maven Chris Carter or fusing with ambient pioneer Robert Rich or giving in to delightful Berlin roots with Mark Shreeve, the music retains a common thread of innovation as well as delivering rewarding esthetics. There are moody pieces that tremble with ethereal veneration. There are sprightly tracks that vibrate with catchy tempos. There are eccentric songs that shimmer with indescribable demeanor.
The music flows together in a seamless presentation, blurring any differentiation inherent in the actual tracks. The result is a dynamic and engaging glimpse into the evolution of Boddy's music. As someone willing to take chances and push the envelope, the offerings are diverse yet consistently satisfying, marked by his intrinsic capacity to create captivating melodies despite the approach or the style.
Review by Andy Garibaldi
For 30 years – yes, 30!! - Ian Boddy has been the UK's unsung pioneer of the best synthesiser and electronic-based music to emanate so consistently from one musician. He's broken barriers, created new boundaries, made existing ones into a form all his own, steered clear of cliché and provided us with over 30 albums of the finest electronic music that any musician has created in the ensuing three decades. This limited edition CD serves to deliver and joyously celebrates that fact.
The first CD is a continuous journey through Boddy's pre-DiN label days, taking tracks from a wide range of his albums and seamlessly creating a series of 15 tracks that, each from a different album, piecing them all together to create one gigantic slice of synthesiser magic. “Hyperion” starts off as the grand theme, the introduction to the best epic film you've never seen, before “Aquanaut” delivers a solid sea of sequencer rhythms and clattering electro-percussives, around which the boing of a bass synth acts as as hook-line, while assorted twinkling and melodies from a variety of synths add an extra dimension to the track, the final presence of a sinuous lead synth melody, the icing on the cake. “Continuum-Alpha” decelerates, starkness and darkens the same effect, as a cyclical set of synth rhythms snake around your mind before a clattering sea of electro-percussive rhythms makes its presence felt, the solid beat right at the bottom of the mix, giving extra depth as more electro-percussive beats give bite to the proceedings, while a sliding, gliding lead synth slowly weaves it's way through. The layers are as distinct as they are many, the effect one of clarity and solid structure, the result an absolute gem of slowly moving, rock solid electro-synth music. “Sequence In Blue” starts the train rolling with a fantastic line in electronic sequencer rhythms that cruise into the cosmic splendours of “Floating” with its shimmering layers of purity very much like the best Klaus Schulze had to offer only way more solid and multi-textured, all leading into the might, mood, muscle and magic that is the electronic and electro-percussively rhythmic-led “Beyond The Event Horizon” which truly hammers out following a massive intro of choral synths and cosmic swirls, as melodies, beats and rhythms take you up and out into the uncharted reaches of space on a rocket-ship of a voyage that is truly mesmerising. “Who Controls Who” is epic thematic, the sound of a film soundtrack where the film reaches a highpoint of majestic proportions, as crashing rhythms are set against slowly insistent beats, rising and falling synth melodies, grand themes, classically piano rivers of melody and it's all seriously epic sounding stuff, like some otherworldly end to an electronic alternate universe “Tubular Bells”. “Heaven's Gate” as a title fairly sums up its content, only Boddy displays that he never keeps to the path of his predecessors, instead injecting his spacey themes with booming bass synth rhythms in slow-motion, adding grand synth textures along the way to provide an almost juxtaposition of unnerving undercurrents with grand thematic melodies. “Living In A Ritual” sounds like an electronic answer to early Genesis in its intro as thudding percussive rhythms underpin some swirling synth melodies to great effect, the whole thing shuddering and shining in absolutely unique fashion, while “Shrouded” takes us into a cosmic galaxy of drifting multi-layered electronics laced with slowly unfolding percussive rhythms which gradually decelerate to oblivion as the space synths take over. “The Climb” continues the space music in its beginnings before the clattering, lurching electro-percussive beats usher in a slowly evolving set of quite sparse melodies, as they gather strength and gradually cruise over the rolling electro-percussive rhythms, melody, space and beats in perfect harmony. “Outer Limits” is pure cosmic darkness with so many layers, subtleties and facets, it's way beyond your average cosmic music as the intensity increases on waves of space electronics and implied percussive muscle before settling into a quiet world of multi-textured, always moving, ever changing, cosmic bliss. “Skylights” is space music that segues into the driving rhythms and sparking melodies of “Metropolis” before the disc ends on just under three minutes of epic cosmic emotive joy that is “Living Planet”. It's one amazing journey through three decades of synth music at its finest – so you think – but then you come across the second disc......
Disc 2.............. This is a wholly different affair from the first CD – the almost continuous structure of the pieces is the same, but the tracks themselves are all taken from Boddy's innovative, emotive and highly engaging DiN label releases, expertly arranged to provide what feels like this epic synthesiser voyage through myriad worlds of moods which range from enthralling and entrancing to powerful and blood-stirring. “Never Forever” sets the scene with three minutes of softly sparkling synth rhythms, echoes, symphonic rivers and oceans of emotion all carefully wrapped in a sea of bliss, cruising towards “Walking The Slow Path” whereupon a strong yet resonant electro-percussive rhythm heralds the arrival of a choppy sea of electro-percussive beats that clatter away as assorted layers of slowly unfolding synth melodies, vari-textured layers and seriously cosmic surrounds, all provide a soundscape where rhythm is central yet there is a starkness, a darkness, into which the voyage travels, the rhythms never intruding, merely the undercurrent on which the soundscapes and melodies are now beginning to take off. But soon, this scenery disappears in the distance to be replaced by an altogether more unnerving panorama in the form of the collaboration track with Chris Carter called “Coriolis”, as synth fx reveal a cold and lonely place where the music bubbles up and spread out with eerie rhythms, chattering beats, supercooled layers of synth swoops and resonant, distant electronics, again slowly gathering pace and strength as the near 8 minute track progresses, and, like all of the tracks on this CD, never staying still, always changing shape and becoming this rhythmically spacey sea of addiction, slowly ending in a haze of echoed rhythms and dark space synths. This moves effortlessly into the near 7 minute “Chiasmata”, initial phasing fx heralding the arrival of an almost symphonic yet cosmic soundscape, slow beats way in the distance, the whole thing gradually building, its presence slowly towering over you as drums crunch like rolling thunder, sparely used sequencers add resonance, cascading high-register melodies provide the first touch of light that we've heard in a while on this CD and the whole thing strides out on its wave of solid electro-percussive and electronic beats, orchestral layers and interweaving synth fx and melodies, so solid, accelerating from slow to not so slow, leading to this huge canvas of electronic and percussive mood and melody that rises up in total grandeur yet loses none of its otherworldly feel, ending almost as it rhythmically began. Then all of a sudden, the rhythms accelerate as driving percussive beats lead you into “Atomicity”, electro-percussive beats and rhythms provide an attention-grabbing rhythmic stride while the various melodies ride on top, but it's the percussive beats that are the stars, produced and played to absolutely stunning effect. “The Mechanics Of Thought” takes us back into the uncharted regions of the cosmos as shimmering electronics, twittering beats in the distance and slowly rising almost organ-like layers of space music, with a mere hint of melody to them, all combine to form a highly different sounding example of real space synth music for just a shade under 5 minutes. Then, with Markus Reuter in tow, Boddy gives us the 4 and a half minute “Presentation Of An Offering”where resonant electronic rhythms boing and bounce as almost Middle Eastern melody lines weave away in the distance, once more the presence of further, upfront yet unobtrusive electro-percussive beats, add meat to the bones of the piece. Eschewing Reuter and adding Bernhard Wostheinrich, Boddy provides “Moire”, where things bubble and bounce, the beats meaty and percussive, the synths sparkling and dancing on the almost out-of-focus rhythmic stabs, as the track drives ahead combining resonant beats with wheezing rhythms and all manner of synth layers, sparsely added on top, the whole feel one of slightly unnerving engagement, something that, even when you've heard it a few times, still sends the shivers up your spine, despite its solidly rhythmic base, slowly fading into the collaboration with Robert Rich that is “Edge Of Nowhere”, the title suitably fitting the music as almost Tonto-like rhythms and rivers of synths briefly evoke memories of “Zero Time”,before the resonant rhythms and cosmic layers make the track a melange of Tonto, glissando-styled Daevid Allen and Boddy's own injection of rhythmic strength to the blissful layers and solid beats, all in all one absolutely spellbinding piece that mixes space with massively rhythmic and works in a way that only Boddy could create so successfully, almost arrogant in its bite yet still so emotive, ending in space music heaven, segueing into the 9 minute “Aurora”, a glorious slice of huge-sounding cosmic, space synth universe, where everything changes slowly, nothing stays the same and the feel is one of absolute inner calm in a way that is engaging and heartwarming, every time you hear it. That it then segues into the 5 and a half minutes of “Arc-Angel” where Boddy and Mark Shreeve provide the ultimate in Berlin-esque sequencer patterns, is nothing less than dynamic arranging at its absolute finest as the seventies return with a vengeance and suddenly you're transported into yet another landscape that takes your breath away no matter how many times you hear it. The sequencers die away as squalls of electronic fx herald the arrival of the undulating rhythmic resonance of “Troubadour” that quickly dives headlong into the most addictive set of electro-percussive and electronic rhythms and beats so far witnessed on the CD. Above this mighty undercurrent, the lone synth melody rises up and matches, not for note, everything that the rhythms can throw at it, the result being one almighty tower of a track that makes you want to get up and leap about the place for all of its slightly less than 5 minute running time. Things end almost abruptly as the CD itself ends with just over 6 minutes of “Elemental”, here gently rhythmic synths joining forces with sequencers before the whole lot crashes into this almost explosive sea of electro-percussive rhythms as interweaving synth melodies bring a sense of grandeur to the proceedings, all the while, the rhythmic base changing and striding out as the emotive melodies rise up and take your heart by storm, ultimately ending on a suitably cosmic foggy layer of space synth bliss. So there you have it – a massive voyage through the career of arguably the finest, least heralded, synth musicians and pioneers that three decades of world-wide electronic music fans have had the privilege to enjoy – and he's sure as hell not finished yet......