Ian Boddy: Altair (2019)
Updated: Sep 20
“ALTAIR is not just for Ian Boddy's fans, but for those who like when EM meets other borders”
CD1 The Gatherings (77:54) 1 Shrine 9:00 2 Stay 10:09 3 Quantum of Memory 10:30 4 Incognito 8:55 5 Altair 17:07 6 Two Blocks 13:36 7 The Thaumaturge 8:38 CD2 Star's End (63:02) 1 Sanctum 8:16 2 Unquiet 9:04 3 Spire 14:13 4 Apostasy 19:23 5 Remnants 12:06 DiN59 (CD/DDL 140:56) (V.F.) (England School, Electronica & Psybient)
Ian Boddy is a regular on the Atlantic crossings, as evidenced by his many presences on the US East Coast and his appearances at The Gatherings of Philadelphia as well at the famous Chuck van Zyl's Star's End. Some of these concerts were put into CD-R or made available on download on DIN Bandcamp site with titles like Shrouded, Strange Attractors and Sepulcher. Other albums, such as React and the very solid Liverdelphia, were made as a manufactured CD. ALTAIR is a double album which follows the last journey of DiN's boss in the city of fraternal love. And according to our friend Ian, this is the best record of his performances at the St-Mary's Church and the premises of WXPN-FM. Beyond the sound quality, especially at Star's End, and this electrical contact with the audience of The Gatherings, ALTAIR is also the opportunity to discover the new music of Ian Boddy whose last solo album dates back to 2016 with As Above So Below, which is very well represented during the performance at The Gatherings. One finds also on this show nearly 40 minutes new music. Of this delicious musical nectar whose England School styles of Arc and Redshift are related to the Electronica vision of Ian Boddy. At this level, the CD at The Gatherings offers almost 78 minutes of pure pleasure. On the other hand, the CD of Star's End proposes a new music which is more ambiospherical, although one doesn't really meditate with Spire and Apostasy. So, place to ALTAIR!
The Gatherings concert at begins with Shrine. After the usual applause, the intriguing wave seems more spectral than in As Above So Below, while the pulsating effect of the rhythm invites us to a fabulous 77 minutes of EM in the Ian Boddy line. Sway, from the Stay album, is a long bridge of dark moods that links the heavy and resonant rhythm of Shrine to the lighter one of Quantum of Memory. Three titles and three different phases of the English musician's repertoire! Incognito is the first new music presented in ALTAIR. Rhythm and no rhythm, its cadenza flows in uncertainty and relies on a bass pulsation and its temporary shadow which molds an echo that responds to the clatter of percussions that sparkle from one ear to another. The keyboard puts down arpeggios which evolve with a demonic clarity that is unique to the signature of Ian Boddy. The long title-track begins in a fauna of electronic noises borrowed from the first avant-garde repertoire of the genre. A bass beat is running in muted behind this field of noises, recalling these links which unite the music of Arc and Redshift to that of the DiN boss. The rhythm is the most fluid, the one that makes us stomp of the feet since the opening of this performance at The Gatherings. The sound effects are a shield against the boredom, the rhythm gestation also, with an incredible tonal richness that we have learned to tasty with the recent explosion of the Modular synths. The pulse, we speak more of a pulse here, chew the resonant heaviness of Shrine by performing a race with long turns under synth layers sifted in ectoplasmic effects and rolling like these astral waves by a starry night. The pulsations of the rhythm seem articulated like the muffled sounds of our tongue slamming clandestinely under our palate. This rhythm takes more vitality after the door of the 7th minute, while the melodies drawn from the effects turn into faster loops. The music borrows a small Electronica bend and synths cry revenge on the effects with very good solos that lead the music to a quieter phase. And it's little by little that Altair leaves our ears that must now negotiate with the splendors of Two Blocks, a title which flirts between the big England School and the Electronica such as thought and developed by Ian Boddy. The flow of the sequencer sculpts one of these rhythms not too sure to want to strip our floor while the drum and their metal snaps are running to the opposite. Arpeggios are running in all directions, trying to understand those sound effects that finally have the upper hand by leading Two Blocks to a kind of psybient finale. After loud applauses, it always annoys me a bit, The Thaumaturge, from the album As Above So Below, is a fully deserved encore of a concert that I would like to see. At least I can hear it now!
The performance of Star's End begins in tranquility with the almost pastoral waves of Sanctum. Violent wiissh, woossh and waassh roll their destiny intersecting their patterns, while the atmospheres sink into abyssal depths that make me think slightly of the textures of Michael Stearns in M'Ocean marinating with these effects of noisy circular waves that furrowed the spaces of Jean-Michel Jarre in Magnetic Fields. Layers of old dark and obituary organ come to cover these musical mirages, while quietly the intensity of Sanctum is lost in the abstruse landscapes of Unquiet. Guttural moans, such as those mammoth moans in the Lord of the Rings, come to haunt its opening which shines again of a troubling and very effective sounding fauna. Diversity is such and there are so many elements that add up and increase the intensity level of a few notches, that it's almost impossible to sink into indifference. We start to find it a little bit long when Unquiet gives way to Spire. We are in the core of Star's End and its purely ambiospherical phase moves towards a slow rhythm, animated by a good bass line slightly throbbing which serves as a timing belt for arpeggios whose harmonic choreography seems to be inspired by the territories of Poseidon that we find in the excellent Michael Stearns' M'Ocean. It's a clever mix of ambiances between Ian Boddy's England School and his touch of ambient Electronica with some very nice solos from a synth which expel out from its interstices a fabulous set of legends and mysteries. It's very beautiful! Then comes the heavy and devious Apostasy! This cornerstone of the Star's End show has all the facets of Ian Boddy gathered in 20 minutes. The rhythm extends its tentacle with a long circular axis that zigzags like those heavy rhythms of the England School. Tamed for an ambient phase, it contains the fantasies of the keyboard and synth from the English musician. A layer of gothic haze tames this structure which trots in our head with a slight melodious aura. Sound effects and keyboard keys sparkle here and there. The ambiances reach a threshold of intensity and Apostasy continues to resist to the contained fury of the sequencer, seeking instead to wallow in a psybient vision which becomes more and more Chthonian. A shadow of Arc encircles the music around the 10 minutes, breaking the pinnacle of this title which concludes with an unexpected serenity. Remnants ends ALTAIR with a phase of sibylline atmospheres which reaches an emotional and intense point before returning to the limbo of Ian Boddy's ambiospherical symphonies.
Ian Boddy was at the height of his inspiration during his two performances in Philadelphia. The videos on YouTube are as much the proof as these two concerts which give off an excellent communion with the spectators and the night listeners. For his fans, ALTAIR is a must! We have here all the facets of this excellent sculptor of atmospheres who succeeds, album after album, to astonish and to touch us. Available in CD manufactured with a 6-panel digipack packaging, as well as in a downloadable format, ALTAIR is not just for Ian Boddy's fans, but for those who like when EM crosses other borders.
Sylvain Lupari (May 13th, 2019) ****¼*
Available at DiN's Bandcamp