Ian Boddy: Modulations II (2021)
Updated: Sep 20, 2022
“An album from an artist who doesn't cease climbing the steps of the excellence in EM”
1 Enceladus 14:02
2 Putney 6:55
3 Zephyr 8:10
4 Proteus 12:49
Bonus Tracks 49:47
5 Livestream 191220 32:36
6 Phoenix Synthfest 17:11
(DDL 91:34) (V.F.)
(Ambient, VCS3, England School)
The first synthesizer that Ian Boddy played on was the VCS3. Known for its rich and powerful sound effects, just think of Pink Floyd's documentary on the making of On the Run, it was used extensively in the 70's progressive music scene. This modular synth has a noises generator that are familiar especially to EM aficionados. Its only drawback is that the oscillators tend to drift. On the other hand, it has a different sound, clear and magical. It is said to be the purity of sound! It's thus from the VCS3 that the boss of DiN decided to build his new album entitled MODULATIONS II. A logical sequel to Modulations but played entirely from a synthesizer that has been long forgotten.
The perfection of the sounds already obnubilate our ears with a nice assortment of the reserves of the VCS3 noises generator. The opening of Enceladus is sewn in mystery and apprehension with mooing sounds comparable to astral whale chants. These sound waves emit a level of radiation that propels a series of waves whose tones now flirt with dread. There are lycanthropes that are now mooing in the cosmic plains. One crosses a plain of twisted reverberations that shoot to the heavens as a vibration stretches the language of its engine over a short distance. Sounds on top of sounds feed the introduction until beats and oscillations clash around the 5-minute mark. The result is a static rhythm that rolls under a field of electromagnetic oscillations.Video game effects, including a series of machine gun shots, invade the walls of our listening room, bouncing around to create a tonal overload. Calmness settles down a little before the 11th minute. Winds blowing on sound particles create a dormant breeze that undulates in a lyrical vision. Here again, the sounds sign strange and fascinating paranormal specimens in this quietude where the specters communicate in analog language. Putney is the sobriquet of VCS3. Here it offers one of those rhythms ignited by dozens of innocent steps, running in all directions on a bed of pulses that has become its rhythmic pillar. If you are familiar with Arc's style, we are close. But more in psybient mode than Mark Shreeve's heavy style. A very good track!
Winds pushed by a trembling hand bring us Zephyr. A track as ambient and sonic as Enceladus, it exploits a series of sound drops that bounce without ever crashing. Big soft springs make tonal choreographies that bring us to the border of another imagination. Towards a ballet of Chinese shadows dancing with limp partners. Let's say that after a title like Putney, the excitement level is still looking for its bearings. It's in a very sci-fi atmosphere that Proteus draws an ambient procession with distorted oscillations that unite in order to create a compact sound mass moving limply. Organic noises ooze from it as distant beats close in to form a heavy, slow rhythm that accelerates into a powerful England School wandering like a vampire. Tinklings and other subjective tones adorn this sinister march that fascinates more than it staggers the senses. The bass line is hallucinating, and the strange murmurs of false African trumpets are so many elements that invite this Luciferian dance to haunt our charms after the 5th minute. In its canvas of almost 13 minutes, Proteus has fun playing with the intensity of its rhythmic structure as well as its ambiences that extend a delicious ascending movement over a distance of more than 7 minutes. A huge track that confirms that our friend Ian still has that sense of rhythm that makes all his causes noble. Ambient and tonal, the finale embraces the prevailing winds of Zephyr.
This first 42 minutes of MODULATIONS II was released in a vinyl version, released in only 100 copies, by the Greek label Kinetik Records. The digital version offers 2 bonus tracks that Ian played live for Internet events. Livestream 191220 was performed on this date during a session held at DiN studios. We can feel a rhythm taking shape in the 5 minutes of the introductory ambiences of the track. It sounds like a train with a set of pulses and metal sticks tap-dancing on hazy shapes. More like a typist hitting almost the same letter! Such as a game of tonal colors, like a spirograph, round and oblong shapes wrap themselves around this rhythmic movement that maintains its cadence under dark winds blowing under the moon. A superb movement which plays with its intensity, as much rhythmic as on the level of the atmospheres, reaching strong moments as well as more ethereal points where the art of the modular is painted of tenebrous vibes. It's more than 30 minutes of pure delight that Ian Boddy has put on video, the music only, on You Tube. The same goes with Phoenix Synthfest which was played at the Phoenix Synthesiser Festival 2021. A big festival that took place in streaming where Ian played on his Serge Modular and a Eurorack system. You can hear it on You Tube too. An equally diverse tonal flora awaits our ears for a good 5 minutes before the rhythm takes shape from little. A bouncy rhythm sets with dozens of percussive elements that clash and crumble into mechanical chirps in a color and ambience that becomes more and more diabolical. A track designed for curious ears, and which completes the digital version of an album proposed by an artist who does not cease to climb the steps of the excellence in contemporary EM.
Sylvain Lupari (November 12th, 2021) *****