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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Ian Boddy: Modulations (2020)

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Modulations sails between the heavy England School resonant of fear and the sound textures of an imagination that has no limits, but the will of ours

1 Prague #1 13:45

2 Sound it Out 33:51

3 Fascinating Awareness 7:26

4 Data Cult 31:13

5 Prague #2 15:28

6 Defining the Instant 30:19

(DDL 132:02) (V.F.)

(Ambient, experimental, England School)

My friend Ian Boddy has a lot of merit. For a few years now, he goes in the underground of EM by toying with wires and knobs of his instruments with a creativity he has united with modular synths. Built on the improvisation performed live on different events, MODULATIONS is an album which unambiguously reaches the fans of the English musician. We are entitled here to more than 132 minutes of tonal experiences where this brilliant musician from Newcastle extracts from his case some sound textures bordering on tonal landscapes still immaculate. Let's say at the outset that the boss of DiN surpasses himself here with an EM highly stylized by a sound basin not only inexhaustible, but also in constant search of this ultimate tone which would rock the music in a universe where the hits of the Beatles would be considered as anti-music. Available only in downloadable format and in limited vinyl edition, MODULATIONS sails between the heavy England School resonant of fear and the sound textures of an imagination that has no limits, but the will of ours.

Improvised on his Make Noise 7U Eurorack, the two parts of Prague are linked to an invitation for a seminar at the Synth Library. Everything that can come out of this box, which is at the origin of all the titles on this double-album, is simply breathtaking. Breezes and rustles of nature, chirps, country church bells, a revival of a more modern city and high winds are on the menu for the first 3 minutes of Prague # 1. We cannot chase Ian Boddy's Arc nature in this heavy and whirring rhythmic framework which zigzags while collecting chords twirling with hesitation. Sonic graffiti, making the link between the Cosmos and the allegorical festivities of modular synths, surrounds this awkward rhythm that subtle typing errors make it even more attractive. The bass line is huge in this track, even giving it the attributes of a radioactive spectrum wanting to communicate with our emotions. Prague # 2 is more lively and just as delicious in its premature tone formulas. It's like Arc that would make Psybient in an EDM envelope slowed down by a high level of tonal design. I would compare the opening of Sound it Out to a very tormented phase of a paranoid schizophrenic. Distorted sounds, whispers, and keyboard chords dying in Jell-O are causing sonic curiosity, just to hear where Ian Boddy can go in his creativity. And the process is as attractive as it's crazy with centipedes running with fright and with their tap shoes. A low-pulsation line redirects the rhythm while the And the process is as attractive as it's crazy with centipedes running with fright and with their tap shoes. A low-pulsation line redirects the rhythm while the centipedes now have slippers and dance with muffled steps. If we push the investigation further in this universe of convoluted tones, I will dare to say that it's a Psybient-Electronica played in slow motion while its psybient decor scrolls too quickly for the rhythm. Loops of sounds roll on this rhythmic canvas without itinerary. The structure slows down to match an unexpected down-tempo which is painted with the artifices of the Psybient. The cooing in loops always spring from the wires and switches from the modular box with this little ghostly side that settles in and amplifies its presence with a reverberant sound mass. The second rhythmic life of Sound it Out resuscitates with more vigor in a heavy and vibrant Berlin School vision up to the limit of 22 minutes. The last 12 minutes are intended for an approach of very psychedelic ambiences where the beast with threads and knobs purrs heavily in a setting that our ears haven't dare to imagine yet.

Static and white noises feed the moods of Fascinating Awareness where a second attempt at dialogue pierces the filters of our imagination. The sounds roar as clicks distort the grandeur of things in a fusion of chthonian orchestrations and atmospheres from horror films of the Hellraiser genre. These are the harshest atmospheric parts of MODULATIONS. Data Cult and Defining the Instant are monuments! Monuments that require love and patience. The overture of Data Cult is sewn of frayed silk, of which the shreds make vibrate the winds that become rumbles of machinery. Spectral waves whisper a language of intergalactic whales while making their presence felt by secret deaf impulses imagined in the ocean floors. Clinking chains or machinery gears? We are not near a sonic contradiction in the imagination of Ian Boddy. In fact, it's a whole work of construction of sounds that are all linked by a thread of unrealism that the brilliant English musician performs live as part of the web show, Data Cult Audio. This long title takes us as much in a complex universe as in meditation with a concert of gongs and bells whose reverberations attract serenity. A sneaky pulse comes around the 11th minute. There where Data Cult goes up the current of darkness to hide in a Luciferian area. If we were impressed by the palette of tones and of sound effects, we are ten times more so in this phase where the organism side of the modular nibbles on tones that become non-comestible. It's the Tower of Babel of Sounds! A rhythm settles with these tramplings which turn in circles in this tornado of distorted sounds which burns the paint on the walls of my listening room. My wife Lise came down to see what was going on ... In short, a monument that requires love and patience! Defining the Instant opens with a drill and its dead batteries. Its 30 minutes and dust are explained by a feeder of sounds that decorate an exhibition of paintings at the Frederick Street Gallery. Voices are modulated with sounds in this opening filled with cosmic sound effects. An ambient rhythm structure takes place. Its ascending vision built around series of arrhythmic pulses which come and go, like secret guests meandering a sound buffet of the style you hear as much as you want, adopts a setting of ambient style Berlin School. The tones range from this drill to misshapen groans in a tonal jungle filled with wild beasts, specters, voodoo and misshapen beasts that defy the will of my imagination.

MODULATIONS is not that kind of album for general audience. Lovers of improbable tones will find their account there, ditto for those who like the EM of Ian Boddy. Not everything is deformed here. On the contrary! Ian succeeds in baiting his sounds which attract others and so on, to form tonal symphonies where one ends up understanding and grasping the threads of the modulations which form a whole. There are unique moments in this album where the genius of Ian Boddy is no longer to be explained. Brilliant and daring!

Sylvain Lupari (June 23rd, 2020) ****½*

Available at DiN Bandcamp

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