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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Ian Boddy & Erik Wollo: Frontiers (2012)

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

“Boddy/Wollo demonstrates a surprising complicity and weaves a wonderful musical universe”

1 Vista 3:59 2 Trek 5:45 3 Undergrowth 4:37 4 Steppe 6:05 5 Migration 3:29 6 Reverie 4:25 7 Searching 7:13 8 Shelter 7:32 9 Frontiers 7:57 10 Ascension 5:25 DiN39 

(CD 56:33) (V.F.)

(Ambient Berlin School)

FRONTIERS is the meeting point between two musicians and exceptional composers who left their imprints in their respective fields of creativity. If Ian Boddy is the chameleon par excellence of modern EM, Erik Wollo specializes himself to create musical patterns which exude some unknown mystic landscapes. Together the build an extremely poetic work where the guitar layers caress the fluty synths and the Martenot waves that Ian Boddy had slipped so well in our ears on Strange Attractors. The rhythms are soft and fluids. Weaved on a skilful mixture of sequences and percussions they are carried by moderate winds which structure surprising landscapes where Berlin School embraces the poetry of an ambient music filled by emotivity.

Atmospheric, Vista spreads its exploratory wings and opens this musical soundscape with a breath of Eole which lifts a thick cloud of prism which float on the undulating and piercing winds of the Martenot waves, feeding a light crescendo that ends its crusade in a finale imprint of serenity. A finale of gust of the winds which throws into the intro of Trek, there where the first sequenced stammerings are shaking the grounds of FRONTIERS. Sequences finely drummed skip and flutter among breaths of flutes while the percussions are clicking at random, some remain wrapped up in wadding, and shape a delicate chaotic rhythm. A rhythm which quarrel between the tenderness of the fluty lines and the sinister reverberations on a canvas of heterogeneous percussions before forking towards a short ambient passage, giving a second breath to Trek which becomes heavier and more incisive. After the morphic layers of Undergrowth which soak into the silence of the prismatic singings of frosty whales and galactic mermaids, Steppe transports us with a very soft ascending rhythmic movement. An upward spiral drawn by shimmered arpeggios which swirl with lightness on a delicate bass line, before being gobbled up by percussions which hammer with fineness an increasing procession under the angelic layers of a dreamlike guitar. Between the tribal universes of Steve Roach and the Scandinavian world of Erik Wollo, Steppe progresses on a meshing of sequences and percussions to which are adding flitted jingles, shaping marvellously a difficult ascension under a sky of azure where the guitar strata merge with beauty with those of a discreet synth but oh so much effective. One would believe being at the time of Steve Roach's Western Spaces or Desert Solitaire. With its bells of ewe which ring in the increasing winds of plains, Migration is an atmospheric passage where the breaths of synths lift the anger of Eole and its northern winds which resound through the huge Tibetan horns.

Reverie is a jewel in this marvellous album! Fine guitar riffs sculpt delicate harmonies of which the chords roll in loops on the echo of percussions which slam in a dense vaporous mist. The harmonies of the guitar go astray into the tears of the Martenot waves which slide and caress the thoughts while drawing the dreams on shimmering arpeggios which dance and sparkle under a superb canvas of paradisiacal musical waves. It's a wonderful title of an infinite tenderness which evaporates in the sequenced tams-tams which shake the introductory morphic vapors of Searching. These sequences shape a quivering rhythm which grasps onto a heavy bass line while the percussions fall to embrace a rhythm supported by a fusion of sequences and arpeggios which crisscross and pulsate in a kind of triturated resonance, hiccupping of a strange spasmodic fury where the rhythm seethes with a static friction. It's an evolving rhythm which hooks to its meshing of sequences and percussions, to which are grafted jingles which clink beneath the philharmonic breaths of synths filled by fragrances of TD. Moreover, the growth of the rhythm reminds me the metallic rhythms of Tangerine Dream, particularly the Logos years. It's very good! But wait until the title-track before being excited! Shelter unveils the wings of its darkness with a shower which crackles on a dome covered with iridescent breezes. Ambient and dark Shelter mystifies the moon with its heavy loner bass line of which the oblong elastics chords modulate arcs of resonances to criss-cross a dark landscape fed by foggy synth layers It's a very solitary title of which the arid winds throw themselves into the intro of Frontiers and its strummed sequences which tinkle and emerge out from the singing winds. A bass line with pulsating steps watches in wait for the rhythm to take shape while another line of more crystal-clear sequences is outlined and that percussions wait for the bite of an elastic note from the bass to go in the sequenced whirlwind of Frontiers. And the magic takes place in our ears! On an oscillatory rhythm stuffed by chiselled and crisscrossed sequences as well as sober percussions, the breaths of synth with warm philharmonic harmonies awaken our memories and fill our ears of fine musical nectar with this soft perfume of Tangerine Dream and of the Stratosfear era. Erik Wollo's guitar comes to add a breeze of nostalgia with floating solos while that Ian Boddy affixes the seal of the electronic poetry with singings solo from a synth which wrap a rhythmic structure that makes no compromise in regard of its influences. Ascension comes closing this wonderful album with Martenot waves and guitar layers crying in the solitude of astral winds.

FRONTIERS is a superb album! It's a musical tale on unknown territories told with the strength of the compositions and influences that are the know-how of these two icons of contemporary EM. As a first musical communion, the duo Boddy/Wollo demonstrates a surprising complicity and weaves a wonderful musical universe where the celestial ambiances are skilfully measured to suave rhythms which flow with a dreamlike sweetness. If synths and guitars are sculpting horizons without borders, which transcend any forms of imaginations, the sequences and percussions are rocking their delicate poetic approaches; sign that our ears deal with two artists who understood each other from the beginning. Making of FRONTIERS an album that we discover even more at each new listening.

Sylvain Lupari (March 24th, 2012) *****

Available at DiN Bandcamp

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